President Trump publicly downplayed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to prevent widespread panic from gripping the nation, he told Washington Post editor Bob Woodward for his upcoming book.
“To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said in a March 19 interview, an audio clip of which was released Wednesday by the broadsheet. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
The snippet was one of several published by the paper featuring highlights of the 18 on-the-record interviews Woodward conducted of Trump for his new book, “Rage.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday disputed Trump’s own choice of words, insisting to reporters, “The president never downplayed the virus. The president expressed calm.”
The president did so — publicly likening the coronavirus to the flu — even as he acknowledged to Woodward just how grave the situation was.
“You just breathe the air,