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Trump defends downplaying of COVID-19, says comments ‘proper’

Washington DC, Sep 10 (efe-epa).- US President Donald Trump defended Thursday his downplaying of the risks of COVID-19, saying his comments to a journalist were “good and proper.”

Bob Woodward interviewed Trump 18 times for his upcoming book about the president, titled “Rage,” which claims that Trump knew more about the severity of the virus than he told the public.

Trump argued on his Twitter account that if his decision to deliberately mislead Americans about the severity of the new coronavirus were “so bad,” journalist Bob Woodward would have reported it earlier.

“Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president thus fueled the controversy generated not only by his statements, but by the fact that Woodward withheld until Wednesday the news that Trump knew since February that COVID-19 was “more deadly” than the seasonal flu, but he decided to downplay its seriousness in his public speeches.

The prestigious journalist, who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, has received criticism for keeping the information for his new book, which will go on sale Tuesday, instead of reporting it immediately.

Woodward defended himself in statements to The Washington Post, assuring that when Trump told him in an interview on Feb. 7 that he considered COVID-19 “more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” he did not know where Trump had gotten that information from.

According to the reporter, it was not until May that he was able to confirm that Trump was briefed on the extraordinary seriousness of the new coronavirus during an intelligence meeting on Jan. 28, and despite that, it took many weeks for the president to publicly acknowledge the severity of the problem.

“The biggest problem I had, which is always a problem with Trump, is I didn’t know if it was true,” Woodward told the Post.

The journalist said his goal was not to bring individual revelations to light on a daily basis, but to work early to give a bigger picture and provide a deeper context than a newspaper article can provide, to help Americans decide whether they want to re-elect Trump.

“The demarcation is the election” on Nov. 3, he stressed.

The revelation provoked strong condemnation on Wednesday from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who accused Trump of lying to the American people about the risk of a disease that has already left more than 190,000 dead in the US.

“It’s almost criminal,” Biden said in an interview with CNN on Thursday. EFE-EPA


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