Trump deliberately downplayed coronavirus to Americans, Woodward says in new book

"You just breathe the air, and that's how it's passed," Woodward says Trump told him about the virus.

Updated: September 9, 2020 - 4:30pm

President Trump knew from the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak that the contagion would be more deadly than he let on to Americans, says Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward, in his new book. 

Woodward said Trump revealed to him after a Jan. 28 Oval Office intelligence briefing that the situation was far worse than he had been telling the American public, according to excerpts of the book, "Rage," published Wednesday by The Post. 

"You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed," Woodward says Trump told him in a Feb. 7 call. "And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flu."

To be sure, Trump has over the course of the nearly six-month-long pandemic expressed optimism that the virus would "disappear," but has also warned the public that the number of infections and deaths could increase before they decrease. 

Woodward says Trump admitted March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. 

"I wanted to always play it down," the president said, according to the Post excerpts. 



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