The tapes from Bob Woodward’s interview with President Trump are damning. It’s clear the president knew about the inherent danger of COVID-19 and purposely played it down to save his own ass.
It’s an earth-shattering revelation—and one that we already knew.
Of course Trump was aware of COVID-19’s potential devastation. He received at least two memos about it from his economic advisor Peter Navarro, which were eventually published by Axios back in April. The first memo, from late January—predating Trump’s conversation with Woodward—said that the virus could claim two million American lives. And if that weren’t enough, two Republican senators dumped millions of dollars worth of stock after they were briefed on COVID-19. That meeting surely didn’t include information Trump hadn’t heard before, since by mid-March he’d be downplaying the effects of the virus and its spread.
This isn’t some harebrained mixup—Trump had plenty of information about just how bad COVID-19 could be and still worked to downplay it. Woodward’s interview simply confirms reports that have been widely available for six months.
Trump will try to downplay this as he does with everything and his media stooges will help him. His current defense is that he’s a “cheerleader” for the United States, didn’t want to create a panic among Americans, and wanted to keep PPE prices down.
The president’s excuses are absurd for a few reasons, chief among them being plain wrongness. Public servants—which, despite appearances, Trump is one—are beholden to their constituents. Their job is to tell them the truth and keep them safe. Trump isn’t much different from most politicians in this regard, even if he’s a far more brazen liar and lacks any shred of human empathy. But when you’re the president and you know a pandemic has the potential to kill hundreds of thousands (or millions) of your citizens, you should probably say something about it. What you shouldn’t do is stay quiet, discourage people to wear masks or socially distance, and to falsely claim everything is fine and for everyone to continue on with their daily lives and let the governors take care of it.
Trump saying he didn’t want to incite “panic” about the virus is equally ridiculous. He must’ve been saving his panic incitement for Black Lives Matter protestors and Antifa thugs who he claims are destroying America and its beautiful suburbs. And thank goodness Trump kept PPE costs down—we know there’s no way the government would’ve been able to find the money.
Woodward’s interview with Trump is nothing short of revelatory, even if his ethics regarding sitting on this audio as nearly 200,000 Americans died of coronavirus are sketchy at best. However, even asking the most basic questions about the tapes’ efficacy leads us to the same conclusions we should’ve come to months ago.