Administration officials claimed Donald Trump never downplayed the risks.
In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, Donald Trump publicly downplayed the threat of the virus, saying numerous times that it was no more deadly than the "common flu" and that it would just "go away."
However, Trump admitted to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward on a Feb. 7 call that he knew how deadly and contagious the virus was and, he said, "I wanted to always play it down."
"You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed," Trump said in an interview for Woodward's forthcoming book, "Rage." "And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flus."
As Trump publicly downplayed the threat, administration officials praised his response to the virus. And Mike Pence denied that Trump had ever undersold the seriousness of the virus.
"I don't believe the president has ever belittled the threat of the coronavirus," Pence said in an April 1 interview on CNN.
In fact, Trump surrogates said as recently as July that he never downplayed the pandemic.
"That is so false," senior Trump campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp told CNN on July 19. "He never downplayed it."
Public health experts have said Trump's denial of the virus' potency and his slow response to containing it contributed to the out-of-control pandemic the United States currently faces.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.