President Donald Trump lashed out Thursday when he was asked by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl why he lied to the American people about the coronavirus pandemic, as the fallout from Trump owning up to downplaying the deadly virus continued.
“That’s a terrible question and the phraseology,” Trump said during a White House press briefing. “I didn’t lie, what I said is we have to be calm, we can't be panicked.” Trump continued, “The way you phrased that is such a disgrace. It’s a disgrace to ABC television network. It’s a disgrace to your employer and that’s the answer.”
Karl said Trump had conceded to journalist Bob Woodward in a February recording that the coronavirus was deadlier than the flu, but then publicly said it was no worse than the flu. Trump declared that he “wanted to show a level of confidence and I want to show strength as a leader and I want to show that our country is going to be fine, one way or the other.” He later added, “There was no lie here.”
The president’s own recorded words about the coronavirus pandemic ignited a firestorm this week. In audio obtained by CNN of a March 19 interview between Trump and Woodward, Trump said “I wanted to always play [the coronavirus] down” and “I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”