White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday laughably claimed that President Donald Trump has “never downplayed” the coronavirus, despite his repeated and very public minimization of the virus and the new tapes revealing he admitted to having “wanted to always play it down.”
Shortly after CNN published audio recordings from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward, in which Trump acknowledged the deadliness of the virus weeks before America’s first confirmed COVID-19 death (months later, the current U.S. death toll is now more than 190,000), McEnany was grilled by White House reporters on the bombshell.
In the on-record comments for Woodward’s upcoming book Rage, Trump said on Feb. 7 that the coronavirus was “more deadly than even your strenuous flus” while noting it was highly contagious and airborne. The president, meanwhile, has repeatedly and publicly minimized the virus to the public, comparing it to the seasonal flu and saying it would soon “disappear” and “go away.”
Pressed on whether Trump misled the American people about the threat of the virus, McEnany replied “absolutely not,” claiming the president was merely trying to “express confidence and express calm.”
“This president does what leaders do,” she added. “Stay calm and resolute at a time when you face a challenge.”
She also insisted that the president “never lied to the American public” about COVID-19, repeating her mantra that the president wanted to keep the country calm during the early days of the crisis. She also took shots at top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, claiming he downplayed the threat early on by comparing it to the seasonal flu in February.
“How can the president bear no responsibility for the 200,000 lives lost when he downplayed the virus initially and knew how deadly it was?” one reported eventually asked. “I don’t understand that.”
McEnany then apparently dismissed the president’s own words over the past few months as well as what he directly said in his interview with Woodward.
“The president never downplayed the virus,” she confidently declared. “The president expressed calm and he was serious about this when Democrats were pursuing their sham impeachment. He was taking early action.”
Besides the president outright telling Woodward that he “wanted to always play it down,” Trump has also said that coronavirus cases would be “close to zero,” everything was “under control” in February, that children were virtually “immune” to the disease, that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless,” and that the virus “will go away in April” with the “heat.”