Donald Trump told reporter Bob Woodward in April that he was “just not” worried about contracting coronavirus, despite a busy schedule and frequent travel that seemingly put him at high risk.
The interview was released Friday by CNN, just hours after the president announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had both tested positive for COVID-19. The newly released interview showed that he had not been worried about his potential to contract the deadly virus. Woodward noted that his frequent meetings and movement seemed to put him in danger, asking if he was worried about it.
“No, I’m not. I don’t know why I’m not. I’m not,” he said.
“Why?” Woodward asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I’m just not.”
The legendary journalist had interviewed the president as part of the research for his book, Rage, which also detailed statements from Trump in February that appeared to acknowledge the severity of the pandemic at the same time he was downplaying it publicly. Trump was recorded in March saying that he liked to play down the severity of the virus.
“I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down,” Trump said, via NPR.
The White House defended the statement, saying that Trump did not want to cause panic, but he has faced sharp scrutiny for what critics see as a failure to properly respond to the threat. Critics have also said that Trump has put those around him at risk by failing to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
He has held a number of campaign events that included large crowds and no requirements for wearing masks or keeping distance between attendees, and Trump this week appeared to mock Democratic candidate Joe Biden at the first presidential debate for his penchant for wearing masks.
A number of others close to Trump have contracted the virus in recent days, including key White House figures Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks. As The Inquisitr reported, many of the cases appear to be connected to a reception held last week at the White House for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Pictures and video from the reception showed rows of people seated close together, many of them not wearing masks.
Others who have been in close contact with the president have been tested, including Biden and his wife, along with others who were near them at Tuesday’s first presidential debate. Both the Democratic candidate and his wife tested negative.