The attacks on Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic continued from both ends of the political spectrum on Thursday with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying ‘people died’ under his watch and John Bolton claiming the president ‘just wanted it to go away.’
Both were responding to excerpts from Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book ‘Rage,’ where Trump, in recorded interviews, gave a frank assessment of the dangers of COVID while publicly saying the disease was under control.
‘Trump lied, people died. We’re in a very sad situation here because it’s about the role of government to protect the American people,’ Speaker Pelosi said at her press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
‘The fact that the President knew he had been saying for a long time, the whole thing was a hoax is delayed denial and distortion of what was happening is caused many deaths,’ she said.
‘This is a tragedy beyond words. What the president did show, yes, in those comments, showed his contempt, contempt for the American people and their health, contempt for science, contempt for any real effort to crush the virus,’ she concluded.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of President Trump’s response to the COVID pandemic: ‘Trump lied, people died’
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton said the president just wanted the virus to go away
The speaker’s words came shortly before Senate Republicans’ failed to pass their plan for a ‘skinny’ coronavirus relief measure. The legislation was a scaled-back version of a $1 trillion plan the GOP tried to push through earlier this summer, which also failed.
The outcome of the vote was not in doubt. Republicans needed support from some Democrats to get the necessary 60 votes to move the measure through the legislative process and Democrats, en mass, opposed it, saying it didn’t do enough to help those suffering from the effects of the pandemic.
Negotiations for another round of relief are in limbo after Democrats made it clear they were not backing down from their $2 trillion measure.
Meanwhile, more details are expected to emerge over the next few days. Woodward is scheduled to be on CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ on Sunday night where the author will play some of the recordings he made of the president during their 18 interviews for the book.
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, a staunch conservative who wrote ‘The Room Where It Happened’ – a book critical of Trump, said the president’s failure to be upfront about the severity of COVID ‘almost certainly’ cost lives and ‘will affect him politically.’
‘He never developed a strategy,’ Bolton told Yahoo News ‘Skullduggery’ podcast. ‘He doesn’t develop strategies, he doesn’t think in strategic terms, he doesn’t think in philosophical terms, he doesn’t think in policy terms. Everything is a day-to-day decision.’
He dismissed Trump’s claim that he wasn’t candid in public because he didn’t want to cause a panic over the disease.
‘A real leader knows how to communicate ‘We’ve got a serious problem here and we’re going to address it seriously,’ Bolton said. ‘That doesn’t cause a panic among the American people. They’re not children. But Trump knew that if he were truly candid about the nature of the threat we faced and what might have to happen that he would bear negative consequences.’
Bolton also blamed Trump’s close relationship with Chinese leader Xi Jinping for the president’s initial handling of the disease.
‘It was very clear to me that Trump didn’t want to hear anything bad about this disease, didn’t want to hear anything bad about his friend Xi Jinping, didn’t want to draw any conclusions about China covering up or conducting a disinformation campaign,’ Bolton said. ‘And he particularly did not want to hear that something bad might happen to the economy here in the United States that he saw as his ticket for reelection. Trump just wanted it to go away.’
Details from Woodward’s book, which were excerpted Wednesday in The Washington Post and from CNN, showed Trump, in private, had a different view of the virus than he was offering in public.
President Trump admitted he downplayed the threat of the coronavirus in order not to cause panic
In this White House photo from December 2019 provided by Bob Woodward, President Donald Trump is seen speaking to Woodward in the Oval Office, surrounded by some aides and advisers, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, then acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, then-White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and then-deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley. On Trump’s desk is a large picture of Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
‘This is deadly stuff,’ Trump told the author in February during one of their 18 interviews.
‘You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,’ he said. ‘And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.’
But while Trump admitted privately to the dangers of COVID less than two weeks later he said publicly that ‘we have it very much under control in this country.’
The president admitted on Wednesday he downplayed the threat of the coronavirus in order not to cause panic.
‘I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love this country. I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic,’ he told reporters at the White House.
‘Certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy. We want to show confidence. We want to show strength, we want to show strength as a nation. That’s what I’ve done,’ he added
Bob Woodward’s new book’Rage’ comes out September 15
‘Leadership is about confidence. Confidence is confidence in our country,’ he noted.
Trump didn’t deny the comments – he has previously blasted stories he doesn’t like as ‘fake news’ – but offered an explanation instead.
‘We don’t want to instill panic. We don’t want to jump up and down and start shouting that we have a problem that is a tremendous problem, scare everybody,’ the president explained when asked about the discrepancy between the remarks he made to Woodward and the remarks he made in public at the time.
And when asked by DailyMail.com how the American people could trust what he says going forward, Trump said: ‘It’s a big part of trust. We have to have leadership, show leadership. The last thing you want to do is create a panic.’
He said repeatedly his public statements in February downplaying the threat of the coronavirus, which has taken 200,000 American lives to date and counting, was to avoid causing chaos and confusion.
‘We don’t want to have to show panic. We’re not going to show panic. That’s what I did,’ he said.
And he called the book – the latest in a series of books painting his administration in a poor light ‘another political hit job.’
‘Whether it was Woodward or anybody else, you cannot show a sense of panic or you’re going to have bigger problems,’ the president said.
WHAT DONALD TRUMP TOLD BOB WOODWARD
Tape recordings and extracts from the veteran Watergate reporter’s forthcoming bok Rage make a series of bombshell revelations.
Trump told Woodward o February 7 that coronavirus was ‘deadly.’
‘You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. 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,’ he said – but did not tell the public what he knew
On January 28, Robert O’Brien told Trump coronavirus ‘will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,’ and said: ‘This is going to be the roughest thing you face.’ Trump then told Americans it was ‘under control’ and would ‘go away.’
And on March 19 Trump said: ‘I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.’
Trump says Kim is ‘far beyond smart,’ and says that the dictator told him ‘everything,’ boasting about how he described the brutal execution of his uncle in a power struggle.
Woodward reveals Kim Jong-Un’s ‘love letters’ to Trump gushing to ‘Your Excellency’ about ‘holding your hand’ and calling their summit ‘a fantasy film.’
But Woodward also reveals that when Trump was tweeting about ‘Little Rocket Man’ Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was so concerned about escalation that he slept in his clothes.
TRUMP ON THE MILITARY
‘My f***ing generals are a bunch of p***ies,’ Trump ranted in the Oval Office, and said their backing for NATO and an alliance with South Korea was ‘stupid. Costs us $10 billion. We’re suckers.’
…AND HIS PREDECESSORS
Trump said Woodward made George W Bush ‘look like a stupid moron, which he was.’ Of Obama he ranted: ‘I don’t think Obama’s smart … I think he’s highly overrated. And I don’t think he’s a great speaker.’ And he added that Kim Jong-Un called Obama ‘an a**hol.’
WHAT AIDES SAID ABOUT HIM
Jim Mattis called him ‘dangerous’ and ‘unfit,’ went to pray in Washington National Cathedral, left government because he was ‘basically directed to do something that I thought went beyond stupid to felony stupid’ in reference to pulling troops from Syria, and suggested ‘collective action’ after leaving.
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, had ‘deep suspicions’ that Putin had something on him and ‘could not shake them.’
Dr. Tony Fauci called his leadership ‘rudderless,’ his attention span ‘like a minus number’ and said: ‘His sole purpose is to get re-elected.’
Jared Kushner – his son-in-law – said Alice In Wonderland is the key to Trump, saying: ‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.’
Trump described the term ‘white privilege’ as ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’ and repeated his claim he had done more for black Americans than Lincoln, adding: ‘And, honestly, I’m not feeling any love.’
Trump used his private cellphone for late-night calls and revealed he had a ‘weapons system’ which Putin and Xi did not know about.