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'Play it down': Trump admits to concealing the true threat of coronavirus in new Woodward book

September 9, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

President Donald Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and "more deadly than even your strenuous flus," and that he repeatedly played it down publicly, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward in his new book "Rage."

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and "more deadly than even your strenuous flus," and that he repeatedly played it down publicly, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward in his new book "Rage. "

"This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7.

In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known.

In "Rage," Trump says the job of a president is "to keep our country safe. " But in early February, Trump told Woodward he knew how deadly the virus was, and in March, admitted he kept that knowledge hidden from the public.

"I wanted to always play it down," Trump told Woodward on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier.

Trump's head "popped up," Woodward writes.

Asked by Woodward in May if he remembered O'Brien's January 28 warning that the virus would be the biggest national security threat of his presidency, Trump equivocated.

"The virus has nothing to do with me," Trump told Woodward in their final interview in July.

At the same time that Trump and his public health officials were saying the virus was "low risk," Trump divulged to Woodward that the night before he'd spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the virus.

Woodward quotes Trump as saying, "We've got a little bit of an interesting setback with the virus going in China. "

By March 19, when Trump told Woodward he was purposely downplaying the dangers to avoid creating a panic, he also acknowledged the threat to young people.

Yet two days later on April 5, Trump again told Woodward, "It's a horrible thing.

-- Woodward writes that Coats and his top staff members "examined the intelligence as carefully as possible," and that Coats still questions the relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Woodward's book includes an anecdote where an aide to Mattis heard Trump say in a meeting, "my f---ing generals are a bunch of pussies" because they cared more about alliances than trade deals.

-- Woodward obtained the 27 "love letters" Trump exchanged with Kim Jong Un, 25 of which have not been reported publicly.

-- Trump insulted his predecessors, saying Woodward made former President George W.

"Rage" is a follow-up to Woodward's 2018 bestselling book "Fear," which portrayed a chaotic White House in which aides hid papers from Trump to protect the country from what they viewed as his most dangerous impulses.

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