Donald Trump in conferenza al Flight 93 National Memorial a Shanksville (La Presse)

Woodward’s New Book and the Most Dangerous Trump “Lie”

New revelations show how President Trump is altering the truth to score politically, with dramatic consequences for the American people.

Trump in February on COVID: ‘This is Deadly Stuff’

“This is deadly stuff. You just breathe the air, and that’s how it’s passed,” said Donald Trump on February 7 regarding the coronavirus in an interview with journalist legend Bob Woodward.

Woodward interviewed the president for his new book Rage. The US media has now published excerpts in advance. Unlike with other books, recordings exist to verify Woodward’s claims.

Sure, it is not uncommon for politicians to be untruthful and to even deal in utter falsehoods. In this particular case, however, the president’s lies have had lethal consequences. Trump wanted to persuade the public after the virus outbreak that everything was not that bad. All while he had told Woodward that COVID was “more deadly than even the worst flu.”

At one point, Trump even claimed publicly that the virus was a “trick by the Democratic” and that it was “very well under control.”

Trump Weeks Later: ‘It’s a Bit Like the Regular Flu’

Weeks after telling Woodward that the novel coronavirus was worse than the flu, he said publicly, “It’s a bit like the regular flu that we have vaccinations for. And we’ll have a vaccine for it pretty quickly. ”

Then, in another interview with Woodward in March, Trump openly admitted what he had done. “I always wanted to downplay it. I still like to downplay it because I don’t want to panic,” while reiterating to Woodward that COVID-19 was “deadly stuff.”

As Woodward reports, Trump’s national security advisor had warned the president of the coronavirus’ enormous danger at the end of January, stating, “this will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” said Robert O’Brien to Trump on January 28, according to Woodward.

Why Did Trump Give Woodward Such Extended Access?

The degree of insight of his cover-up Trump provides Woodward with is borderline incredulous. The president provided him with 18 interviews between December 2019 and July 2020, despite Woodward’s first book about the Trump administration, Fear, not presenting the administration in a good light – to put it mildly.

One can only assume that Trump hoped to present the White House in a better light via direct access to him – which is important so close to the election. It is a plan that appears to have failed. Now, the president is facing the backlash over his conduct. However, due to the recordings, the White House’s modus operandi of negation will not work.

Instead, the public is now aware that not only did the president lie about the most significant US crisis in modern times, but that he has also admitted it.

Fatal Consequences

The consequences have been fatal. Nearly 190,000 Americans have now died from the virus. Trump’s poor crisis management has contributed to making the virus a much more significant issue than other countries. Trump not only suggested to the population for a long time that the situation was not that serious, and thus sunk them into a false sense of security, which has undoubtedly led to people not taking the virus seriously, but his initial denial of the crisis had also paralyzed the relevant authorities, which should have responded swiftly and forcefully.

“Trump never did seem willing to fully mobilize the federal government and continually seemed to push problems off on the states,” Woodward writes. “There was no idea how this case could be managed or how a massive undertaking could be organized to deal with one of the most complex emergencies the United States has ever faced.”

Fauci: Trump ‘Only Interested in His Reelection’

According to Woodward’s book, Trump’s national disease chief Anthony Fauci said of Trump’s crisis management that the president had an attention span that “a minus number” and was “only interested in his reelection” while his leadership was “directionless.”

Woodward’s revelations should come as little surprise. After all, the president has been known for his numerous lies and his tendency to distort reality. What is extraordinary is that Trump was careless enough to expose himself and to a journalist who famously brought down the Nixon presidency. Ironically, unlike with the Watergate tapes, however, the here, the president himself has provided the explosive material.

Most importantly, however, it is a reminder that Trump’s lies are not merely an ethical issue, but that, in the case of the pandemic, they have had fatal consequences for Americans all across the country.