President Trump Admits to Downplaying COVID-19

Valentina Caceres, Senior Multimedia Editor

National outrage broke out on Wednesday, Sept. 9  due to a leaked audio of a Feb.7 phone call between investigative journalist Bob Woodward, known for his reporting of the Watergate scandal, and President Donald Trump, in which the president admits to downplaying the danger of COVID-19 to the American public.

In the audio — recorded in conjunction with Woodward’s upcoming book, “Rage,” about President Trump’s time in the White House —Trump tells Woodward, “It’s more deadly than your…even your strenuous flus… this is deadly stuff,” as he acknowledges that the virus is airborne. An additional audio reveals a Mar. 19 conversation between the two, in which the president tells Woodward that he planned to lie to the American public, as he “wanted to always play it down… I still like playing it down.”

When news broke that the President failed to inform the country of the information he held about the virus, “Twitter” feeds flooded as #TrumpLiedPeopleDied trended on the social media platform. California Congressman Eric Swalwell tweeted on Thursday, Sept. 10: “Today: 6.3 million Americans have confirmed cases and more than 190,000 Americans have DIED. These cases — these deaths could have been prevented if the President had done his job. #TrumpLiedPeopleDied.”

Trump attempted to take control of the situation at a White House press briefing on Thursday. When a Fox News reporter questioned his motives for lying to the public, Trump responded by telling the reporter that he did not lie, but instead expressed that Americans have to remain calm and not panic. He then brought up Woodward, and said that the “Rage” author would have turned in the tapes if he thought they would have put American lives at risk. 

The book also includes statements from many of Trump’s former national security officials and current health officials, such as top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who strongly criticized Trump’s abilities as America’s leader, CNN reports.