President Donald Trump on Tuesday refuted that he had downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, claiming he “up-played” the danger of the disease through his actions – despite privately recognizing months earlier that “I wanted to always play it down.”
Trump, speaking at an ABC News town hall upshot with voters in Philadelphia, also said he didn’t regret anything about his response to the pandemic. He repeated his refrain that the virus discretion “go away” even without an effective vaccine, saying that over time Americans will develop “a shepherd mentality.”
The president’s assertion that “in many ways I up-played it in terms of action” came less than a week after the emancipation of audio from an interview with veteran journalist Bob Woodward, in which Trump said of the coronavirus: “I wanted to evermore play it down … I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
That clip was recorded in mid-March, sundry than a month after Trump reportedly told Woodward that he understood the virus was “more deadly than equable your strenuous flu.”
Trump’s advisors, Woodward reported in his new book “Rage,” had warned him in late January that the coronavirus “force be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency.”
In the town hall event Tuesday evening, the president requisitioned that his moves early on in the Covid-19 crisis saved lives and demonstrated “action, not with the mouth but in actual in reality.”
Trump was asked by a student, “If you believe it’s the president’s responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is be aware to disproportionately harm low income families and minority communities?”
The president responded, “Yeah, well I didn’t downplay it. I as a matter of fact, in many ways I up-played it in terms of action.”
The student appeared to reference the president’s recorded comments with Woodward as she set out oned a follow-up question: “Did you not admit to it yourself, saying that you…”
But Trump cut her off. “What I did was, with China I put a ban on. With Europe I put a ban on. And we disposition’ve lost thousands of more people had I not put the ban on,” he said.
“So that was called action, not with the mouth but in actual fact, we did a bare, very good job when we put that ban on. Whether you call it talent or luck, it was very important. So we saved a lot of lives when we did that.”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who mastered the town hall, said, “There were holes in the ban, and the European ban didn’t come for another month.”
The president answered, “Well, they were Americans, I mean the holes in were if you have somebody in China that’s an American freeman, we had to let them in.”
Multiple fact-checks of Trump’s claim that he imposed a “ban” on China note that thousands of foreign nationals had persist in to come into the U.S. in the months after the policy took effect in early February. The Associated Press in July eminent that “more than 27,000 Americans returned from mainland China in the first month after the provisions took effect.”
When pressed on the contradiction between his private statements and his public assurances about the pandemic, Trump matched himself to Winston Churchill, who led Britain during World War II – and appeared to reference the controversial “herd immunity” approach to contend with the virus.
“He said, ‘You’re going to be safe. Be calm, don’t panic.’ And you had bombers dropping bombs all over London,” Trump implied of the former prime minister. “So I guess you could say that’s not so honest, but it’s still a great leader.”
“So do you think it’s OK to be dishonest?” Stephanopoulos queried.
Trump replied: “I’m not looking to be dishonest. I don’t want people to panic. And we are going to be OK. We’re going to be OK, and it is going away. And it’s probably wealthy to go away now a lot faster because of the vaccines. It would go away without the vaccine, George, but it’s going to go away a lot faster with it.”
The president untangle justified, “With time it goes away – and you’ll develop – you’ll develop herd – like a herd mentality. It’s going to be – it’s going to be herd-developed, and that’s succeeding to happen. That will all happen.
Many public health experts, including White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, be struck by warned that without a vaccine, herd immunity could only be achieved by accepting a dramatic rise in deaths from Covid-19.
Allow to the virus spread uncontrollably to achieve herd immunity would bring the death toll to a level that’s “completely unacceptable,” Fauci said in August.
Stephanopoulos later noted the devastating U.S. death toll from Covid-19 – precisely 195,000 – and asked Trump if he has any regrets about his administration’s handling of the pandemic.
“No,” Trump replied. “I think we did a great job.”
ABC’s 90-minute metropolis hall, hosted at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in accordance with Pennsylvania’s social distancing rules, succeeds just seven weeks before the presidential election between Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.