October 31, 2020
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Bob Woodward releases tapes suggesting Trump downplayed virus

By Jibran Abbasi
Staff Writer 

Transcribed interviews between President Trump and journalist Bob Woodward revealed that Trump knew that Covid-19 was “deadly,” even as he publicly downplayed its threat.

Numerous interviews between Woodward and Trump were published by CNN on Sept. 9, days ahead of the release of Woodward’s book “Rage,” that details the relationships between certain staffers and Trump during his administration. 

A Feb. 8 telephone interview between Woodward and Trump, according to one tape released by CNN, suggested Trump had knowledge that Covid-19 “‘goes through the air,’” and that it was “more deadly than even your strenuous flus.’”

“‘I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,’” Trump said to Woodward in another interview, found on a recording dated March 19 and obtained by CNN.

Trump defended himself after the release by implying Chinese President Xi Jinping promised him that the virus was under control and would not spread to the West, according to The Guardian, which Trump later said was “‘not true.’” 

Woodward himself also faced criticism, according to NBC News, for not releasing the tapes earlier in the pandemic, with those arguing the information could have saved lives.

The Tapes are part of Bob Woodward’s book, “Rage” which documents the administration’s inner workings during the pandemic. (NYT/ Simon & Schuster)

According to the Washington Post, Trump did not act independently in his decision to downplay Covid-19, and affirmed his stance after receiving counsel from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and former head of the Domestic Policy Council Joe Grogan.

In addition to Trump receiving approval from members of his administration, many members of the G.O.P. have defended his position. Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel claimed Trump was “‘calm and steady in his methodical response,’” according to the New York Daily News, while senior Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller suggested former Vice President and democratic nominee Joe Biden wanted everyone “‘to stay locked in their basement forever.’”

Other republican politicians, especially those in the Senate, according to Forbes, also defended the president, including Louisiana Senator John Kennedy. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham suggested the president didn’t need to go on TV and scream “‘we’re all going to die.’”

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, has further questioned Trump’s integrity and leadership abilities in light of the revelation.

Many members have voiced their concerns, as reported by CNBC, on whether Trump should be trusted with the lives of the American people since he failed to mount a proper response despite being in the possession of time-sensitive information. 

Biden has been vocal about Trump’s Covid-19 response on his road to election day.

“‘He had the information. He knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose,’” Biden said, according to CNBC.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi also commented on the tapes, as reported by CNBC, accusing the President of hiding facts and information that left the country “‘exposed and unprepared.’”

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