President Donald Trump was reportedly warned by his national security advisor in January that the virus outbreak emerging in China would be the “roughest thing” he would face during his time in the Oval Office. However, he allegedly tried to play the seriousness down in public rather than addressing it head-on.
As a new report from The Washington Post revealed, both Robert O’Brien and deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger briefed the president on the novel coronavirus, saying that it would be similar to the 1918 pandemic that killed 50 million people.
In public, Trump told the nation that he thought it would be no worse than the seasonal flu and would fade away on its own. Behind closed doors, however, he reportedly had a good idea of just how bad things might get. He allegedly called Bob Woodward, an editor for The Washington Post, and informed him he’d been downplaying the situation.
“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump was quoted as saying. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
“This is deadly stuff.”
A few weeks later, Trump acknowledged to the country that the virus was deadlier than the flu. On March 19, he reportedly told Woodward that he had chosen to downplay the situation as he always does.
The surprising claim comes from Woodward’s new book Rage, which is expected to hit bookshelves on September 15. The account is based on conversations that Trump and the author had between December 2019 and July 2020. To supplement those interviews, he also spoke with unnamed sources within the White House.
“Trump never did seem willing to fully mobilize the federal government and continually seemed to push problems off on the states,” Woodward wrote. “There was no real management theory of the case or how to organize a massive enterprise to deal with one of the most complex emergencies the United States had ever faced.”
Trump has long faced criticism for his handling of the coronavirus along with his continued attempts to suggest that it is not as serious as some reports indicate, or that it is gradually fading on its own.
He has also frequently appeared to put blame on China for failing to initially address the emerging disease better. Most recently, he blamed his campaign financing woes on what he calls the “China virus” and the media’s coverage of it, as The Inquisitr previously reported.