On September 9, some media released parts of the interviews between the president and the journalist, revealing his reported remarks on the outbreak as well as race and other issues.
Here are some of the key quotes so far from Rage, which will be released on September 15.
President Trump indicated that he knew more about the severity of the illness than he had said publicly.
According to a tape of the call, President Trump told Bob Woodward in February that the coronavirus was deadlier than the flu.
“It goes through the air,” President Trump told the author on February 7.
“That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, 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.”
Later that month, President Trump promised the virus was “very much under control”, and that the case count would soon be close to zero. He also publicly implied the flu was more dangerous than Covid-19.
Speaking on Capitol Hill on March 10, President Trump said: “Just stay calm. It will go away.”
Nine days later, days after the White House declared the pandemic a national emergency, the president told Bob Woodward: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Speaking from the White House on September 9, President Trump told reporters: “I don’t want people to be frightened, I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and 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.”
President Trump – who is running for re-election in November – said the Bob Woodward book was “a political hit job”.
Responding to reporters’ questions on the book, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “The president never downplayed the virus, once again. The president expressed calm. The president was serious about this.”
In a tweet, Joe Biden said that “while a deadly disease ripped through our nation, [President Trump] failed to do his job – on purpose. It was a life or death betrayal of the American people”.
A $1 trillion aid package would be larger than the US response to the 2008
financial crisis, amounting to nearly a quarter of what the federal government
spent last year.
In addition to the $250 billion in cheques for families, the plan includes a
bailout for airlines and hotels, among other measures. The proposal must be
approved by Congress to move forward.
Separate from the $1 trillion package, Steve Mnuchin said the government
would also allow companies and individuals to delay their tax payments for 90
He said: “We look forward to
having bipartisan support to pass this legislation very quickly.”
President Donald Trump initially proposed a payroll tax cut, which would
reduce the money the government automatically withholds from worker pay to pay
for social programs.
However, critics said that relief would come too slowly and leave out those
without jobs. Several high-profile economists had urged more direct assistance,
including $1,000 payments, winning support from lawmakers such as Republican
Senator Mitt Romney.
President Trump said he had come round to the view that faster, more direct
relief is necessary.
He said: “With this invisible
enemy, we don’t want people losing their jobs and not having money to live.”
The president added that he wanted to target the relief to those who need
Steven Mnuchin said he hoped to send the cheques within two weeks.
He said: “Americans need cash now and the president wants to give cash now and I mean now, in the next two weeks.”
Asked how long the emergency will
last, President Trump said: “People
are talking about July, August, something like that, so it could be right in
that period of time where I say, it washes through.”
The president continued: “They think August, could be July,
could be longer than that.”
He said he was not considering a
national curfew or lockdown, though added:
“We may look at certain areas, certain hot spots as they call them.”
President Trump said he had not yet
decided to close the US-Canada border, but told reporters it was something the
administration was considering.
He also addressed issues of testing,
as the US has been criticized for lagging far behind smaller countries in
getting tests out to the states.
Officials said on March 16 that a
million tests were currently available and more would be coming this week.
“A lot of testing has been going on,” President Trump said, though he also noted that those
without symptoms should not get the test.
“Not everybody should run out and get the test, but
we’re able to handle tremendous numbers.”
Health officials also said they are
due to add 30 million masks to the US supply and are shipping out gear and
health workers to bolster local testing efforts.
Asked how he would score his
administration’s response to the crisis on a scale of one to 10, President
Trump said: “I’d rate it a 10. I
think we’ve done a great job.”
White House coronavirus response coordinator
Dr. Deborah Birx, who joined the president, issued an appeal directly to
millennials, asking them to limit social contact.
She said: “They are the core people that will stop this virus.
“We really want people to be separated.”
Dr. Birx also warned against
socializing even if people feel well.
She said: “We know that there is a large group of infected people who are
asymptomatic, who continue to spread the virus.”
VP Mike Pence, who is leading the
coronavirus taskforce, told reporters he had not been tested yet.
He said: “I’m in regular consultation with the White House physician and he said I’ve not been exposed to anyone for any period of time that has had the coronavirus and that my wife and I have had no symptoms.”
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