As CNN reports, Woodward’s book has Trump saying "This is deadly stuff," on Feb. 7. But there was still a solid month of golfing and Trump rallies ahead before Trump would even begin to pretend that COVID-19 was something that demanded his attention. Trump has underplayed the disease at every turn, constantly insisting that it would “be down to zero” cases or go away “like magic.”
But in a discussion with Woodward on March 19, Trump made it clear that he knew he was lying to the public, and intended to keep right on lying. "I wanted to always play it down," said Trump. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic." In a call on that date, Trump showed that he knew the truth—even though he has continued to lie. And Woodward has these conversations recorded.
“Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob. Just today and yesterday some … some startling facts came out. It’s not just old … older. It’s young people, plenty of young people.
That’s Donald Trump, on March 19. And still, here’s Donald Trump on Aug. 11.
“if you look at children, they’re able to throw it off very easily. … for whatever reason, the China virus, children handle it very well.”
Trump knew that the virus was far deadlier than the flu when he was telling people it was less deadly than the flu. Trump knew that the virus affected people regardless of age, months before he insisted that it was safe for children to go back to school. Months before he insisted that college athletes should be playing.
Again, this is Donald Trump openly admitting that he knew the real threat posed by COVID-19 and deliberately played it down. His March 19 conversation with Woodward came one week after Trump held a news conference with CEOs of big box stores across the country and declared that there would be a national testing and case tracing strategy. But Trump then decided to kill that plan, because, as a White House source said: “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy.”
The COVID-19 disaster in the United States—a disaster that will top 200,000 dead this week—was not an accident. It didn’t come from a failure to grasp the seriousness of the issue, the deadliness of the virus, or the urgent need for coordinated federal action. Everything that has happened, from the deaths to the economic disaster, has been the direct result of strategic decisions by the man who bankrupted a whole series of casinos.
Trump did this on purpose. It’s not an accident. It’s murder.