In a sign of his reelection desperation, President Trump on Thursday held his fourth press conference in a week as he continued fielding questions following reports on legendary journalist Bob Woodward’s book, which revealed that Trump purposefully downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic in its early stages.
During a press conference at the White House on Thursday, Trump echoed his admission from the day before that he intentionally downplayed the severity of COVID-19 early this year because he is “a cheerleader for this country.”
In the three questions that Trump took during the press conference, the first went to ABC News reporter Jon Karl who bluntly asked the President: “Why did you lie to the American people? And why should we trust what you have to say now?”
Trump hit back at Karl by telling him “that’s a terrible question and the phraseology” because he “didn’t lie.”
“What I said is we have to be calm,” Trump said. “We can’t be panicked.”
The President would go on to blame Woodward after being asked by Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker about why he didn’t go public about his COVID-19 concerns, given that he told Woodward on Feb. 7 that he knew that the novel coronavirus was airborne and deadly.
Trump pointed to China’s early assertion that COVID-19 was an airborne disease “earlier than the statements I made,” before going on to argue that “there has to be a calmness.”
“You don’t want me jumping up and down screaming there’s going to be great death and really causing serious problems for the country,” Trump said.
Trump then suggested that Woodward should’ve taken it upon himself to alert authorities after stating his private concerns on COVID-19 to the legendary journalist.
After Rucker attempted to interject by mentioning that “Bob Woodward is not the President,” Trump rambled on by insisting that Woodward “said he didn’t think it was bad” before reiterating that the journalist should’ve gone public with the President’s COVID-19 concerns sooner.
“He actually said he didn’t think it was bad. The only one that said its bad were the fake news media because they take it and they try and put it a certain way,” Trump said. “If Bob Woodward thought it was bad, then he should have immediately gone out publicly, not wait four months. He’s had that statement for four months, maybe five months. He’s had it for a long time.”
The President then added that he did a series of “quick” interviews with Woodward on the phone “out of curiosity because I do have respect.”
“I wonder whether or not somebody like that can write good,” Trump said. “I don’t think he can, but let’s see what happens.”
Trump’s latest remarks come a day after Woodward responded to criticism he is facing for taking months into the COVID-19 pandemic to reveal that President Trump privately acknowledged that it was “deadly stuff” earlier this year.
In a phone interview with the AP on Wednesday, Woodward said that he needed time to ensure the accuracy of the President’s private comments from February.
“He tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?” Woodward told the AP.
Woodward told the AP that only in May that he felt assured in reporting Trump’s comments as the country experienced surges of COVID-19 cases nationwide.
“If I had done the story at that time about what he knew in February, that’s not telling us anything we didn’t know,” Woodward told the AP.
Watch Trump’s remarks below:
Trump: "If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad then he should have immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities so they can prepare."
Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker: "Bob Woodward is not the President." pic.twitter.com/JjgMS2TVSK
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) September 10, 2020