President Trump defended comments he made earlier this year about the coronavirus pandemic in interviews with reporter Bob Woodward, telling Fox News’ “Hannity” on Wednesday that he wanted to “be calm” .
“I’m the leader of the country, I can’t jump up and down and scare people,” Trump told host Sean Hannity. “I don’t want to scare people. I want people not to panic, and that’s exactly what I did. “
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Excerpts from some of the interviews, which form the basis of Woodward’s upcoming book, “Rage,” were published by the Washington Post earlier Wednesday. In early February, Trump told Woodward that the coronavirus was a “deadly substance” while publicly comparing it to seasonal flu. Over a month later, on March 19, Trump admitted to Woodward that he “still wanted to play [the virus] down.
“I always like to play it down, because I don’t want to cause panic,” Trump added at the time.
On Wednesday evening, the president condemned Woodward as the author of “hit jobs”.
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“He hit jobs with everyone, he even did it on Obama… consistently successful jobs. [George W.] Bush, I guess, they did three pounds, they were all terrible, ”Trump said. So I was like, you know, “Let’s try it out, I’ll talk to her.” It was okay, I talk to him and let’s see. I don’t know if the book is good or bad, I have no idea. I probably won’t read it because I don’t have time to read it. But I gave it a little kick, looks like it’s not going to be good. ”
Trump has also defended his early response to the pandemic, citing his decision in late January to limit flights to the United States from China, a move Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called consistent with what he said. called Trump’s “record of hysteria, xenophobia and fear”. . ”
“If you look at Joe Biden’s reps, you see what they were saying. They were saying “no problem,” “it won’t be a problem,” Trump told Hannity. “He didn’t think it was going to be a problem until months later. He was very late. ”
The president also recalled that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California visited Chintown in San Francisco in late February in an apparent attempt to allay fears about the virus.
“No one wanted me to ban China and, as you know, soon after I [instituted] a ban on [travel from] Europe, and it was even more controversial, and it was good, because I saw what was going on in Italy, Spain and France, and we made a ban there, ”Trump said. What if we don’t do that. bans, we would have had numbers that were many, many [worse]. »
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Trump also criticized Democratic governors for keeping their states locked, citing the swing states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
“If you look at some of the states like North Carolina and Pennsylvania – you look at what they’re doing – they’re closed, they’re still closed,” the president said, adding, “It’s a shame – They I don’t. don’t know what they’re doing, frankly. ”