"The fact is, I’m a cheerleader for this country, I love our country, and I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say. And certainly, I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy."

Pres. Trump responding to allegations he misled Americans by publicly downplaying the severity of the COVID-19 earlier this year.

  • BACKGROUND: For his upcoming book Rage, Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward interviewed the President 18 times between December and July. In the book, Woodward reports the President knew how dangerous COVID-19 was in February and that the President admitted to downplaying COVID-19 in March in order to quell panic. Woodward also released some audio recordings of Pres. Trump supporting his claims to news outlets.
    • Woodward writes that Pres. Trump told him on February 17: “This is deadly stuff… You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
    • Woodward writes that Pres. Trump told him on March 19 “I wanted to always play it down…I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
  • LATEST: When questioned about the upcoming book and audio recordings on Wednesday, Pres. Trump was asked whether he thinks more lives could have been saved if he were more forthright, the President responded saying:

“So, I think if we didn’t do what we did, we would have had millions of people die.  We closed up our country.  We closed it up very, very quickly, very effectively.  We did a job.  We learned about this horrible disease, along with the rest of the world, which had to learn about it.  And then we opened it up.  And now we know the vulnerable; we know who it attacks, who it’s so vicious against.  And I think we’ve done, from every standpoint, a — a incredible job.”

  • WORTH NOTING: Woodward has come under fire for not releasing the President’s statements earlier. As noted by the Associated Press, “The issue of daily journalists presenting newsworthy information in books isn’t new. The competition for attention is intense, and headlines help boost sales and guest shots for interviews.”