The president knew and didn’t tell you.
During Nixon’s impeachment the question was asked by GOP senator Howard Baker: “What did the president know and when did he know it?” With the release of Bob Woodward’s Trump tapes, we are again asking that same question about what the president knew and when he knew it. The Woodward tapes make one thing resoundingly clear: The president knew everything, all of it. And he knew it on Feb. 7. We now know unequivocally that the president knew and did nothing, and now almost 200,000 Americans are dead and millions more are suffering from long-haul symptoms.
On Feb. 7, the day after Trump had a conversation with President Xi of China, the president of the United States told journalist Bob Woodward that COVID-19 was “more deadly than your, you know, your—even your strenuous flus.” And then he continued saying, “This is five per—you know, this is 5 percent versus 1 percent and less than 1 percent, you know. So, this is deadly stuff.”
Two days later in New Hampshire, Trump told a group of his supporters, “By April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, (the coronavirus) miraculously goes away.” Trump lied to his supporters. Trump lied, and now the American people have the Woodward tapes to prove it. It’s funny because I personally believed that the president was more stupid than malicious about coronavirus but if the Woodward tapes prove anything, it’s that the president understood what he was doing, understood the risks and the death that was likely to rain down on the American people. But did it anyway.
The next three months were a tragedy of errors and fuckups. In February, South Korea was testing tens of thousands of people and America was testing between three and four hundred people a day. As of today, 344 people have died of coronavirus in South Korea. Compare that to America, which has lost 193,000 Americans from the virus. And we now know definitively that the president knew what was coming and did nothing.
The president also knew how the virus was spread. He told Woodward during that same Feb. 7 conversation, “It goes through air, Bob. That's always tougher than the touch. You know, 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.” The president continued to hold rallies, six more, including the Tulsa rally where Herman Cain may have gotten the coronavirus that killed him. If the president knew that the virus had a 5 percent death rate and was airborne and still held rallies, isn’t he culpable, isn’t this criminal negligence?
The president defended himself by saying he's a “cheerleader for the country”and didn't “want people to be frightened” or “create panic.” This is a particularly lame excuse considering that creating panic is pretty much the main thing Trump loves to do. For the last month, Trump has run completely on the lie that Democratic cities are burning hellscapes filled with rioting looters.
In fact, the Trump Republican Party has been pretty committed to fearmongering in the worst way. A few minutes watching Tucker Carlson would make you think that New York City is actually Mogadishu in 1993. In 2018, Trump tweeted that “Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the Midterms!”
Trump’s message is mostly fear. Remember when Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
This is not a person who cares about upsetting or frightening people. If anything Trump won on fear, fear of immigrants, fear of the other. Even Trump’s defense of himself is a total and complete lie. If there was a real-life panic he didn’t want to create, it wasn’t among actual living Americans. It was at the stock market, because that would have been bad for his re-election chances.
Will voters care that the president killed nearly 200,000 Americans? Trump has a very sticky, very masochistic base so maybe those people don’t care that their president is literally killing them. But there have to be a few sane people left in the Republican Party? Right? It’s impossible to know, but historically, killing tens of thousands of people has been bad for an incumbent’s re-election.