cloudyn.png
Sunday January 24th, 2021 8:41PM

'Deadly stuff': Trump's own words bring focus back to virus

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Try as he might to change the subject, President Donald Trump can’t escape the coronavirus.

In April, the president tried to shift the public's focus to the economy. In July, to defending the country's “heritage.” In September, to enforcing “law and order.” But all along the way, the death toll from the coronavirus continued to mount.

And now, Trump’s own words are redirecting attention to his handling of the pandemic when he can least afford it — less than two months before Election Day.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said of the threat from the virus. That was in a private conversation with journalist Bob Woodward last March that became public on Wednesday with the publication of excerpts from Woodward's upcoming book “Rage."

In taped conversations released along with the excerpts, Trump insisted he didn’t want to create “panic.” But his comments also raised fresh questions about how he has managed the defining crisis of his presidency, one that has killed more than 190,000 Americans so far, with no end in sight.

Trump’s team would much rather center the November vote around the economy, cracking down on protests spawned by racial injustice, and the president's promise that he could appoint more conservative justices to the Supreme Court.

Trump released a list of 20 potential nominees for the high court, part of an effort to animate conservative and evangelical voters. But his announcement was overshadowed by a cascade of unwelcome developments, including Woodward's revelations, a move by Nevada officials to cancel upcoming Trump rallies in the state because of the virus, and a whistleblower’s charge that Trump aides had pressured him to cover up intelligence reports about Russian election interference on the president's behalf.

The president unleashed a barrage of tweets Thursday morning, some in an effort to change the subject, and others taking on the Woodward book head-on, defending his comments and charging the media with conspiring against him.

“Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months," Trump wrote. “If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!"

Woodward has defended his decision to hold off by saying he needed time to make sure Trump’s private comments were true.

Revelations from the Woodward book emerged just as Trump's campaign was beginning to feel that the virus was receding from public view. The president himself has been thumbing his nose at public health experts' warning against the sort of large gatherings — with few people wearing masks — that his campaign has been staging around the country.

For all of that, Trump has faced devastating revelations of his own creation before and survived them. They stretch back to his 2015 comments questioning the heroism of Sen. John McCain, a decorated Vietnam prisoner of war, or the notorious “Access Hollywood” tape that emerged just before the 2016 election in which Trump described sexually assaulting women.

On Wednesday, Trump didn't deny his remarks playing down the virus, he sought to justify them.

“The fact is I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country and I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic,” Trump told reporters. “Certainly, I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy. We want to show confidence. We want to show strength.”

Yet Trump’s own explanation suggested he was steering people away from the reality of the coming storm. Woodward’s account details dire warnings from top Trump national security officials to the president in late January that the virus that causes COVID-19 could be as bad as the devastating influenza pandemic of 1918.

On Feb. 25, just weeks before much of the country was forced to shut down because of the pandemic, Trump declared the virus “very well under control in our country.”

Democratic nominee Joe Biden pounced on the Woodward revelations, declaring that Trump “lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.”

“While a deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job — on purpose. It was a life or death betrayal of the American people,” Biden said.

By evening, Trump's own words, captured on the Woodward tapes, had popped up in a Biden campaign ad. The ad includes audio of Trump privately acknowledging to Woodward the severity of COVID-19, and ends with a narrator pronouncing: “Trump knew it all along.”

In a taped Feb. 7 call with Woodward, Trump said of the virus, “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” Trump said.

“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.

Just three days later, Trump struck a far rosier tone in public, in an interview with Fox Business: “I think the virus is going to be — it’s going to be fine.”

The Washington Post, where Woodward serves as associate editor, reported excerpts of the book on Wednesday, as did CNN. The book also covers race relations, diplomacy with North Korea and a range of other issues that have arisen during the past two years.

The book is based in part on 18 interviews that Woodward conducted with Trump between December and July.

“Trump never did seem willing to fully mobilize the federal government and continually seemed to push problems off on the states,” Woodward writes of the pandemic. “There was no real management theory of the case or how to organize a massive enterprise to deal with one of the most complex emergencies the United States had ever faced.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Supreme Court News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trump drilling reversal could boost coastal GOP senators
President Donald Trump's decision to extend a ban on offshore drilling could give a boost to Republican senators in tough reelection races
12:17AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Book: Kim Jong Un told Trump about killing his uncle
President Donald Trump’s comments about the threat from the novel coronavirus have attracted widespread attention after excerpts of journalist Bob Woodward’s book “Rage” were released
12:15AM ( 5 minutes ago )
'Deadly stuff': Trump's own words bring focus back to virus
President Donald Trump is acknowledging he played down the projected impact of the deadly coronavrius early this year and says he meant to avoid creating a panic
12:13AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
High alert: Deadly Northwest fires burn hundreds of homes
Deadly windblown wildfires raging across the Pacific Northwest destroyed hundreds of homes in Oregon, prompting the governor to say it could be the greatest loss of life and property from wildfire in state history
10:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
Book: Trump said of virus, 'I wanted to always play it down'
A new book reveals that President Donald Trump seemed to understand the severity of the coronavirus threat even as he was telling the nation it was no worse than the flu and insisting the government had it totally under control
10:18PM ( 2 hours ago )
Justice Dept. push into Trump case could prompt dismissal
Attorney General William Barr is defending the Justice Department’s move to intervene in a defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump
10:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Luxury goods giant LVMH cancels $14.5B deal for Tiffany
Luxury goods giant LVMH is ending its monthslong pursuit of jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. The Paris-based conglomerate said that the French government requested a delay, saying it needs more time to assess the impact of proposed U.S. tariffs
6:26PM ( 5 hours ago )
Trump and Biden run vastly different pandemic campaigns
President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are taking diametrically opposite approaches to campaigning during a pandemic
6:14PM ( 6 hours ago )
Vaccine by Nov. 3? Halted study explains just how unlikely
The National Institutes of Health director is telling Congress that AstraZeneca's suspension of its COVID-19 vaccine study shows there will be “no compromises” on safety in developing the shots
6:13PM ( 6 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
No virus aid before election? Pessimism before Senate vote
Top Republicans senators are making pessimistic predictions about securing a bipartisan coronavirus relief package before the November election
8:55PM ( 3 hours ago )
Trump releases list of 20 new possible Supreme Court picks
President Donald Trump has announced he is adding 20 names to the list of Supreme Court candidates that he’s pledged to choose from if he has future vacancies to fill
8:16PM ( 4 hours ago )
House panel approves bill to combat doping in horse racing
A key House committee has given bipartisan approval to legislation to create national standards for the horse racing industry to prevent fatalities and discourage illegal medication practices
8:05PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Trump readying potential Supreme Court nominee list
President Donald Trump is preparing to release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees
12:12AM ( 1 day ago )
No 7th trial for Mississippi man freed from prison in 2019
A Mississippi man freed from prison last year after 22 years will not be tried a seventh time in a quadruple murder case
7:22PM ( 5 days ago )
Nevada governor mulls church changes as court battle resumes
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak says he's pursuing the possibility of easing COVID-19 restrictions on religious gatherings as a rural church pushes forward with its legal effort to strike down the current 50-person cap as unconstitutional
9:49PM ( 6 days ago )
AP Online Supreme Court News
Trump drilling reversal could boost coastal GOP senators
President Donald Trump's decision to extend a ban on offshore drilling could give a boost to Republican senators in tough reelection races
12:17AM ( 4 minutes ago )
3 dead as wildfire explodes in Northern California
Three people died in a wind-whipped Northern California wildfire that has forced thousands of people from their homes while carving a 25-mile path of destruction through mountainous terrain and parched foothills
12:04AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Chiefs nix headdresses, face paint to start NFL season
Kansas City Chiefs fans who file into Arrowhead stadium for a masked and socially distanced start to the NFL season won’t be wearing headdresses or face paint amid a nationwide push for racial justice following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis
11:55PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Smoke from nearby wildfires creates eerie baseball scene
The Oakland Coliseum lights shone brightly for miles through a sunless, smoky sky in the middle of the afternoon _ hours before they usually would be on for a night baseball game
11:46PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Kucherov scores late; Lightning take 2-0 lead over Islanders
Nikita Kucherov scored with 8.8 seconds left to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night and a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference final
11:44PM ( 37 minutes ago )