The President told a journalist in a secret recording that he knew COVID-19 was dire, well before publicly saying it.
The President has landed in hot water again for his handling of the Coronavirus crisis. This time, the public uproar has come after recordings of conversations between Trump and famed Washington Post Journalist, Bob Woodward, were shared. In a recording from February 7th, 2020, Trump says he had been well aware of the threat Coronavirus posed to American well-being.
Woodward is a legendary author, best known for covering Richard Nixon's 1972-1974 Watergate Scandal. While researching materials for his second book about the Trump Administration, Woodward interviewed the President about his conversation with Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Trump reportedly disclosed that they conversed about the then-emerging Coronavirus.
Said Trump, "It's also more deadly than your, you know, you, even your strenuous flus. You know, people don't realize, we lose 25,000, 30,000 people a year here. Who would ever think that, right?" He continued, "...This is more deadly. This is five per, you know, this is five percent versus one percent and less than one percent. You know? So, this is deadly stuff."
This strikes a glaring contradiction against his minimal public recognition for the COVID-19 crisis from the time of the recording onward. He famously made optimistic statements in both a professional and personal capacity about the virus.
On February 26th, he tweeted from his personal account, “Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!”
While the opposition to media outlets and Democratic lawmakers is nothing new for him, the basis of his complaint is largely undermined by his own words. Such was also the case as he held an in-person rally on February 28th in Charleston, South Carolina. At the rally, he famously stated the Coronavirus was a "hoax" staged by Democrats.
In a follow-up conversation with Woodward, dated March 19th, 2020, Trump stated “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create panic.”