The election is still two months away, but Donald Trump may be facing his most serious hurdle to reelection yet: his own statements. In a new book from respected journalist Bob Woodward, Trump is quoted as early as February admitting how dangerous COVID-19 is. He then tells Woodward in a later interview that he is taking steps to downplay the virus to the public.
In Woodward’s book, titled “Rage,” Trump is implicitly shown to be misleading the public about the pandemic. While the death toll escalates through the Spring, Trump dismisses wearing masks.
He floats hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the disease, despite the CDC revoking its emergency approval. He even suggests shining lights inside the body and ingesting disinfectant. However, Woodward’s interviews show Trump is well aware of how serious and dangerous the virus is.
Media Excoriates Trump
Following previews of Woodward’s book, and the release of audio of the interviews, members of the press began excoriating Trump. On social media, opponents of the president left scathing comments, accusing Trump of being accountable for thousands of COVID-related deaths. Following the release of the interviews, Trump’s public favorability has taken a hit.
In Woodward’s book, he quotes Dan Coats, a former director of National Intelligence for Trump. “To him, a lie is not a lie,” Coats once said, speaking of the president. Woodward quotes him, “It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”
Woodward’s book is the latest of many scathing books about Trump. His niece, Mary Trump, wrote a tell-all describing the Trump family’s alleged dysfunction. Michel Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, wrote a memoir about his time working for Trump. All of these, and more, are adding up a grim picture of the president.
Trump Willfully Manipulates Truth in Woodward Book
In Woodward’s book, Trump is not shown to be ignorant or bumbling, as some of his critics have assumed. Instead, Woodward shows a shrewd, tactical man who uses truth and misinformation as a weapon.
Trump knows the true danger of the pandemic, but he also knows the danger of allowing it to define his presidency. So, he moves quickly, spinning a narrative that has the virus as a non-issue.
Trump wants to shift the focus to the economy, to jobs, to riots and civil unrest. But Woodward’s book stays focused on Trump’s lies about the coronavirus. While Trump has lied, continuously, throughout his presidency, Woodward’s book has shown that Trump is aware of the truth in this case.
He simply chose to hide it from the public in order to calm financial markets and encourage economic growth.