Donald Trump deliberately minimized the pandemic: ‘I wanted to always play it down’

Anti-Trump protesters gather in Jupiter

As soon as Bob Woodward’s Rage was announced a few weeks back, I knew it would end up being a big deal. Woodward doesn’t rush to publish his many exclusives, and he always gets tons of access to the worst people. People always want to talk to Woodward because none of these a–holes want to be blamed for any of this. Too bad. Anyway, Rage will be published next week, and the Washington Post published some exclusive excerpts. The big talking point is that Trump admitted, on the record, to purposefully downplaying and minimizing the pandemic. But holy sh-t, there’s so much dumbf–kery in these excerpts. Some highlights:

Trump was warned about the seriousness of the virus on Jan. 28: “This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien told Trump. “This is going to be the roughest thing you face.” Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, agreed. He told the president that after reaching contacts in China, it was evident that the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

Trump decided quickly to downplay it & lie about it: Ten days later, Trump called Woodward and revealed that he thought the situation was far more dire than what he had been saying publicly. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus. This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis. At that time, Trump was telling the nation that the virus was no worse than a seasonal flu, predicting it would soon disappear and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control. It would be several weeks before he would publicly acknowledge that the virus was no ordinary flu and that it could be transmitted through the air.

He admits his intention on the record: Trump admitted to Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

On the incident in June when he gassed kids & clergy for a photo-op. On June 3, two days after federal agents forcibly removed peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square to make way for Trump to stage a photo opportunity outside St. John’s Church, Trump called Woodward to boast about his “law and order” stance. “We’re going to get ready to send in the military slash National Guard to some of these poor bastards that don’t know what they’re doing, these poor radical lefts,” Trump said.

On white privilege: In another conversation, on June 19, Woodward asked the president about White privilege, noting that they were both White men of the same generation who had privileged upbringings. Woodward suggested that they had a responsibility to better “understand the anger and pain” felt by Black Americans. “No,” Trump replied, his voice described by Woodward as mocking and incredulous. “You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.”

On Obama: “I don’t think Obama’s smart,” Trump told Woodward. “I think he’s highly overrated. And I don’t think he’s a great speaker.” Trump added that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un thought Obama was “an a–hole.”

[From The Washington Post]

I can feel Trump’s baby fists clenching and imagine him openly seething with jealousy as he said “I don’t think Obama’s smart. I think he’s highly overrated. And I don’t think he’s a great speaker.” Dipsh-t. As for the information about the pandemic… the only thing that’s really news to me is that privately, Trump did take the reports out of China seriously in January and February. I always assumed that he was in those meetings, actively ignoring the reports and playing it down privately too. Nope. Turns out he did know how bad it would be and he didn’t give a sh-t. Of course Kayleigh McEnany claimed that Woodward was lying, and that Trump never said that. Then hours later on Wednesday, Trump said Woodward got it right.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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60 Responses to “Donald Trump deliberately minimized the pandemic: ‘I wanted to always play it down’”

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  1. Lara says:

    I know this is off topic but the picture of Trump in the car – it’s like the next step on from the Brad Pitt car photo.

    • B n A fn says:

      Sorry, but how can you think of Brad Pitt at this time when hundred of thousand of people have died needlessly because of this conman in the White House. Please take seriously what he has done to us, all of us. He lied to us from day one and is still doing it even today. Btw, I have family member who died because of covid 19.

      • Lara says:

        I know this but you are on a gossip site…

      • Lady D says:

        …and short of voting, no one can or will do anything about him.

      • Lady D says:

        B n A fn, I’m sorry about your loss. I wish so bad there was something I could do for you and every other decent American going through this hell. It’s kind of hard to grasp how a country could go from leading the free world to burning unchecked, because of its leader. I couldn’t imagine living it.

  2. Becks1 says:

    These quotes are so disturbing. I honestly did think that Trump was just dumb, that he didn’t realize the potential disaster of covid and that he thought everyone who said it was serious was just full of BS. apparently no. He actually understood something that his advisors were telling him, for once. And still, 200,000 Americans died on his watch.

    • FHMom says:

      Yeah. I equate this to a parent teaching a toddler that a stove isn’t hot, and that’s it’s ok to touch it. Negligence and apathy are worse than stupidity.

    • Mac says:

      It’s so unethical that Woodward sat on this. I have no idea how he can live with himself.

      • B n A fn says:

        Don’t blame Woodward, blame the man who lied to us and cause the death of thousands through his incompetence, he is the president, don’t blame the messenger, blame the incompetent president.

      • Mac says:

        I blame Trump and his willing accomplices (Azar, Redfield, Brix), but Woodward is a journalist. It is literally his job to inform the public.

      • Micky says:

        Even if Woodward had informed everyone, I don’t think it would have mattered to Trump’s base. Especially after Trump referred to the virus as a Democrat hoax. Once he said those words, his base and others were determined not to comply with mask wearing and social distancing. That fact is that those words, “Democrat hoax,” caused a lot of people to lose their lives. He knew good and well it was not a Democrat hoax. This is on Trump.

    • AnnaKist says:

      Well, Becks, you’re right; he is dumb, but here’s the proof that he’s also dangerous, irresponsible and cares nought for the health, safety and well-being of the American people. He’s been able to bluff his way out of many thing, and thought he could do the same with COVID-19. Not only did he ignore expert advice on how to best deal with C-19, but he actually fed Americans a lot of garbage regarding the virus, such as it being like a cold or seasonal flu.
      Remember the doctor who asserted that vaccinations caused Autism? His claim was tested and debunked countless times, and even the research debunking that claim was put through rigorous meta-analyses. His claim was proved false. He eas even stripped of his license to practise. How many years has that been now? Yet his claim is still the go-to reason used by anti-vaxxers as to why they refuse to vaccinate their children. This really is no different. Trumpo spouted crap about C-19, and despite there being a wealth of information freely available for people to fact-check, nup. The PRESIDENT said it, so it’s fact. No wonder people won’t do such simple things as washing hands or wearing a mask. Mind you, there are quite a few idiot Australians who arc up about wearing masks, so you’re not on your own in this.
      It makes no difference what he says or does. His loyal followers are nothing, if not tenacious. They will not desert him. Dumbarses.

    • Nic919 says:

      It was premeditated murder and if he was a CEO of a private company he would be criminally charged at this point.

      He’s killed 200,000 Americans to date and does not actually care. He is a monster.

    • holly hobby says:

      Those tapes just showed his brain hasn’t completely rotted yet. That, yes, he know what the virus would do. So he can’t fall back on dementia when they nail him.

  3. Darla says:

    Am I the only one who’s shocked? I listened to the Feb 7th recording and I was shocked. Trump seemed to have a very good grasp on covid. Also, he knew it was airborne. No one including Fauci bothered telling us that. In fact, a month later, Fauci went on 60 minutes and told us we shouldn’t be wearing masks.

    Anyway, I though trump was too sick (and I mean in the head) to really understand this, and that he engaged in magical thinking not just magical speaking. But he’s not. Isn’t that shocking? It’s also premeditated murder.

    • 10KTurtle says:

      It was bad enough when we thought he was too stupid to take it seriously- now we know he WILLFULLY endangered us and he is STILL doing it by holding his Klan rallies and trying to bully everybody into packing into schools and football stadiums.

    • Christin says:

      That is exactly what I’m getting from hearing the actual taped conversation. He clearly grasps how serious the virus is, and sounds far more coherent than I would have expected.

      And supposedly Fauci was defending Orange yesterday? More proof that no human being is infallible and undeserving of following blindly.

    • Betsy says:

      I still think Trump has dementia; it develops over time and watching him speak now vs in 2016, his decline is apparent.

    • Pusspants says:

      @ Darla I was also shocked that Trump listened to & believed what he was being told by experts In February. Sadly, I’m not surprised he lied to Americans though because he is an awful human. However, I had been aware that the virus was airborne (just like other coronaviruses). But I have the luxury of having time to read a lot of news & scientific sources. I get your surprise & anger that you could not trust our president to be truthful about something so consequential as this. We shouldn’t have to search for this info, the POTUS should be informing the public about this stuff FFS!

  4. ABritGuest says:

    Tomorrow will be 9/11 and people will say never forget but more Americans died in this pandemic & Trump could have stopped that but these revelations wont make a difference to his base. He was calling coronavirus a hoax and had those ridiculous theories Like injecting bleach. Heart breaking for those who have lost loved ones.

    Also it’s sick that Woodward waited until his book was published to reveal this

    • Izzy says:

      The CDC is projecting that we could be seeing 3,000 deaths a DAY by December. That’s a 9/11 EVERY SINGLE DAY. My mind is still boggling.

  5. damejudi says:

    Lock. him. up.

  6. Ohlala says:

    I think the most of you still do not fully understand how narcissist operates hence some shocking reactions. He was/is fully aware what was going on he just CHOSE to behave this way. This is always about control and authority. This is why it makes them so dangerous. They are not stupid or dumb. They are aware but chosing evil and malicious way to play “God”

    • Marjorie says:

      Correct. He saw this information in the same way he would have treated asbestos in a building he was trying to sell you. Covered it up, nothing to see here, get the money.

      200,000 dead American citizens. Not his problem, run for reelection.

      I am grieving for the United States of America.

    • Sophie says:

      The term “magical thinking” really pisses me off. It romanticizes what he does and makes it sound like he’s a mystic or something. He is a malignant and evil liar. Everything is done deliberately and with full knowledge. To say that he’s off in some fantasyland totally minimizes his destructive narcissism.

      • Darla says:

        I meant magical thinking as in he’s a head case, not romantically. Certainly nothing mystic about it.

        And no, I don’t know much about actual, clinical narcissism. I have no personal experience with it, nor expertise in that field. I am a designer, a writer, and a marketer. I am not a master of psychiatry.

        I apologize for my shortcomings.

    • lobstah says:

      Yeah he knew how bad this was going to be, he just tried to tuck it under his flaky comb-over for a few months, knowing it would hurt his campaign.

      I think what shocks me more isn’t how selfish or narcissistic this man is, it’s how stupid he is.

      • Mel M says:

        Exactly. He biggest fear was shutting down the country/economy and not being able to ride on his economic record that he’s been bragging about for four years and that his worshipers believe is a genius at.

    • FHMom says:

      It’s toxic positivity, making people believe that all is good when the complete opposite is true. Supposedly, Trump learned it from his father.

  7. alwaysannarun says:

    The sad thing is that when Kayleigh disputes his actual words, his base nods their heads with their tongues hanging out like dogs. They believe everything that comes out of this administration’s mouth because they are too dumb to comprehend otherwise.

    • Scal says:

      What I appreciated was the press corp finally calling her out when she kept saying “allegedly”. He’s on tape Kaleigh. It’s been released on tape.

      Same thing with senators who were trying to spin as “oh it’s a gotcha book”-but it’s on tape. It’s the presidents own words on tape. Can’t use that excuse of anonymous sources this time eh?

  8. Alissa says:

    I’m seething. Tuesday night I helped work the polls and one of the women next to me lost both of her parents to Covid in June. It was devastating to her. I wish he recognized that there are hundreds of thousands of families who are feeling the same way. because of his inaction.

    also, he can keep Obama’s name out of his fucking mouth now and forever. and to say he’s not that great of a speaker, when he is the best orator I’ve had in my lifetime and Trump can barely string together a coherent sentence… ugh.

  9. Sierra says:

    And yet, his supporters and the Republicans won’t care.

    • Nic919 says:

      How there can still be around 40% support for him is astounding. He’s a monster who doesn’t care if you live or die. Party doesn’t matter here. He simply doesn’t care. He is no different than a serial killer.

  10. Aang says:

    What I’m seeing is his bases claiming he is such a great leader that he wanted to protect us from worry. He took all that anxiety and responsibility on himself because he cares so much about other people. They truly think he is some kind of Christ figure. Idk what they are going to do if he looses the election.

  11. grabbyhands says:

    I’m not shocked that he willfully lied about it – he already knew that it didn’t matter if it came out. And it hasn’t – this isn’t going to affect him negatively in any meaningful way. His hardcore cultists are still ride or die insisting he was misunderstood or misquoted or that Woodward lied despite 45 admitting he lied, and the still (for some bizarre reason) undecided voters STILL might go his way come election night. Nothing is going to stick to this monster.

    The thing I find more alarming are the number of people on the left leaning side of the aisle that can hear this and still sit there and self righteously insist that there’s no difference between he and Biden and that they still might vote third party if they vote at all. I’m more pissed about that. I’ve lost my ability to be shocked/angry by 45’s lies being exposed and nothing coming of it.

    We have a bigger worry to focus on right now – the Supreme Court. If something happens to RBG or someone “decides” to retire before Election Day, he and McConnell are going to cram someone into that space and all of his candidates are horrifying. It won’t matter if he’s re-elected then. They are completely capable of engineering this and will do so if they think it will distract from the Woodward book.

    • Scal says:

      He immediately tried to distract by releasing a short list of 20 names of people he would replace RBG with. Including ted Cruz and Tom cotton.

      Both of whom immediately tweeted about getting rid of roe v wade and pushing through their agenda. So all those progressive “oh Biden is as bad as trump I’m voting third party” can miss me with their nonsense. If you aren’t actively working to get trump out by voting for the person that can actually beat him then they are just as bad as MAGAs. Sorry not sorry.

  12. Miranda says:

    “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one.”

    I love (and by love, I mean I fucking hate it so much that trying to suppress it gives me a facial tic) when he says stuff like that. Like he just now figured out germ theory and acts like WE’RE the assholes who need it explained to us. And he has the best words. And also his uncle was super smart.

  13. Cate says:

    It’s so disgusting, all the lies. Even when we have the recorded receipts Kayley still spewing her lies. I’m so tired of all the deception and lies. He doesn’t give an eff about anyone but himself. I can’t even stand looking at his pig face talk anymore. Please vote people, your life literally depends on it.

  14. KellyRyan says:

    I’ve had a few days of feeling Drumpf burnout. No interest in Woodward’s book. I have four others to read. I’ve been angry with the Dem’s for their endless repetition, (It’s blank number of days and we don’t have a testing program.) STFU and get him out of office now, is my response. And the other repetitious statement which angers me is, “I’m working across the aisle.” With who, criminals? Rant over. :) Times are tense. Fear of fire in California.

  15. Edna says:

    Not surprised or shocked at anything that’s been revealed and said. Trump is the apex of white male privilege and supremacy. He doesn’t give a shit about anything or anyone. He’s only out for himself. And still, these revelations won’t make a difference to his cult of supporters because they’re so far gone in their denial and refusal to see the truth. There’s absolutely no reason to vote for Trump except one. You’re a fucking racist and want to maintain white supremacy.

  16. AmyB says:

    What saddens me the most, and also enrages me even more, is that I am pretty sure his supporters won’t give a s**t about this!! I wish I was wrong, believe me! But time and time again we have seen him lie, manipulate, insult, go on Twitter rampages against anyone and everyone, and behave like a racist, sexist, misogynistic and narcissistic asshole. Before the 2016 election he was caught on tape IN HIS OWN WORDS and said “grab em by the pussy” in reference to how he feels about and treats women. Yet he won the election for President of the United States. Think about that. I know I do.

    And now he is even admitting he “downplayed” the virus in reference to the leaks of these Woodward interviews. Yet in public, he declared it a “Democratic Hoax”, he refused to issue a Federal Mandate for masks (knowing full well how deadly this virus was airborne) and allowed his supporters to gather at rallies without masks. This man is literally criminal and is responsible for the deaths of some 190,000 Americans now who have died of Covid-19.

    How the F**K can anyone support this POS???

  17. Jojo says:

    I cried when I heard him tell Woodward that COVID-19 was 5 times more deadlier than the flu and that he knew we lose 30-40K people to the flu annually.So if we lose 40K to the flu he knew we could lose 200K to COVID if we didn’t take preventative measures.He didn’t give AF.

    I cried because one of those people who maybe didn’t have to die was my Aunt Pam.She died in alone in May in a hospital three days after she was removed from a ventilator.Mother’s Day weekend we had a graveside funeral that lasted about 15 minutes for her because regular funerals weren’t allowed at that time.

    I saw an expert on the news who said if we had shutdown this country in a month earlier we probably would have had over 80% fewer cases and deaths.

    I hope Trump burns in Hell.

    • Darla says:

      I’m so sorry. I really am.

    • Imogene says:

      I am so sorry Jojo.

    • B n A fn says:

      I cried 2 jojo because my sister-in-law died from covid 19 and was in good health until she attended a church function. This should not have happened.

    • HoofRat says:

      I’m so sorry you are having to experience this loss and pain. Can some genius please develop an empathy pill for Trump and his syncophants that would make them feel, however briefly, the collective grief and fury of the families of those who have needlessly lost loved ones? What is is about these people that makes them impervious to basic human decency?

      • BnLurkN4eva says:

        They’ve been brainwashed by Fox news for 3 decades and this is the end result of that experiment. The trouble is the whole world is going down in flames along with them. It’s a giant boat that we are all on together and they keep punching holes in it, so down we all go.

        Jojo, I’m really sorry about your family member. I can literally feel your pain and feel how unjust this all is. I wish there was something I could say to make it better, but I don’t think those words exist. Peace be with you.

    • Nic919 says:

      I am very sorry for your loss. He’s a monster and so are the people who enable him. There needs to be a purge of the GOP and Nuremberg style trial. So many criminals at this point

  18. B n A fn says:

    Is there any 45 supporters who still believe him or will vote for him after having the proof that he knew this was deadly and he deliberately lied to us and called covid 19 Hoax.

    • BnLurkN4eva says:

      They are likely not on this site, but they are out there, trust! They are all around me, thank goodness not in my family, or a part of my friends group. Make no mistake, they’ll vote for him no matter what.

  19. JennyJenny says:

    I’m curious, are the tapes allowed to be played?
    Or is there something binding that they cannot be played, but can be used to transcribe into a book.

  20. Meg says:

    ‘Trump added that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un thought Obama was “an a–hole.”
    If a dictator doesn’t think the leader of the free world is an a-hole then the president isnt being hard enough of dictators
    Denying a problem exists thinking that would prevent panic, all that means is people wont be afraid or knowledgeable of the severity of this until theyre already dead from this
    He doesn’t want to lead, to work on solving this so he lies that there is no problem to solve so theres no work for him to do
    People loved andrew Cuomo’s response in NY because he seemed on top of it, not sugar coating it so you felt, ok this guy is on top of it -that helps the public feel less panic knowing the leader of our area is on top of this

  21. Annaloo. says:


  22. Liz version 700 says:

    To me this takes Trump from a plain malignant narcissistic a hole to criminally negligent sociopathic malignant narcissistic A hole in Nuremberg Trials territory. Thinking about it makes my blood pressure go crazy.

  23. Tiffany says:

    Let us not forget that thousands of people, many of whom were BIPOC and Casino and Ken Doll reject were stealing PPE and ventilators that State government was taking care of on their own, died from this virus and Woodward still did not come forward.

    Everything in between, he still did not release the tapes and that is unforgivable and I will shrug when his eulogy is announced.

    Casino is a coward and would have rolled over on something to prevent these deaths.

  24. Rapunzel says:

    And Trump tweeted Woodward’s book is boring… which is such a self own. It’s based on interviews with you, Donny boy. If it’s boring, that’s cause you are.