‘In Many Ways, I Up-Played It’: Trump Now Denying He Downplayed COVID Threat
Fielding questions at a town hall in Philadelphia on Tuesday, President Donald Trump reversed last week's admission that he did play down the severity of the pandemic to the public in the early months, despite recently released audio recordings. He also made comments related to masks, herd immunity and racial justice issues.
The New York Times:
Trump, In Philadelphia, Says He ‘Up-Played’ The Virus, Then Downplays It
President Trump denied on Tuesday that he downplayed the threat of the coronavirus that has taken more than 195,000 lives in the United States, directly contradicting his own recorded words in which he admitted doing exactly that. And then he proceeded to downplay the pandemic even further. Appearing at a town-hall-style event in Philadelphia, Mr. Trump presented a view of the pandemic radically at odds with the view of public health officials, insisting again that the virus would disappear on its own and contending that “we’re rounding the corner” of the crisis. He cast doubt on the value of wearing masks, citing the wisdom of restaurant waiters over the counsel of his own medical advisers. (Baker, 9/15)
Trump, Pressed During ABC Town Hall On Downplaying Pandemic Threat, Says Instead He 'Up-Played It'
As evidence of his claim that he "up-played" the disease "in terms of action," Trump cited a pair of travel bans imposed against China and Europe in February and March. But pressed by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, who moderated the town hall, about "his own words" about the pandemic threat, Trump said, "We did a very, very good job when we put that ban on." "Whether you call it 'talent' or 'luck,' it was very important," Trump continued, "so we saved a lot of lives when we did that."(Bruggeman, 9/15)
Trump Denies Downplaying Virus, Casts Doubt On Mask Usage
Face-to-face with everyday voters for the first time in months, Trump was defensive but resisted agitation as he was pressed on his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and why he doesn’t more aggressively promote the use of masks to reduce the spread of the disease. “There are people that don’t think masks are good,” Trump said, though his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly urges their use. (Miller and Freking, 9/15)
The Washington Post:
Trump, In Town Hall, Says He Wouldn’t Have Done Anything Differently On Pandemic
Trump often praised his own performance and said problems were the fault of others. Trump blamed cities and states run by Democrats for any problems with the response to coronavirus, as well as for any crime or violence in the country, not accepting responsibility for problems that he sees as happening under political rivals. (Itkowitz, Dawsey, Sonmez and Wagner, 9/15)
'Herd Mentality': Trump Again Asserts Coronavirus Will 'Disappear'
ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Trump whether the coronavirus "would go away without the vaccine?" "Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time it goes away --" Trump responded. Stephanopoulos interjected: "--And many deaths." "And you'll develop, you'll develop herd -- like a herd mentality. It's going to be -- it's going to be herd developed - and that's going to happen. That will all happen," Trump said. (Behrmann, 9/15)
Trump Tells Town Hall He ‘Up-Played’ The Coronavirus Pandemic
Another town hall participant confronted Trump on his “Make America Great Again” motto, pointing out that for many African Americans who have historically faced injustices because of racism, “we cannot identify with such greatness.” He confronted the president for declining to acknowledge that there is a “race problem in America,” a remark that caused the president to pause. “Well, I hope there’s not a race problem,” Trump said. “I can tell you there’s none with me, because I have great respect for all races.” (Choi, 9/15 )
Trump Says He Doesn't Think He Could've Done More To Stop Virus Spread
The president was asked by one prospective voter what the most difficult challenge of his presidency has been, and what he learned from it. "I learned that life is very fragile. I knew people that were powerful people, strong people, good people, and they got knocked out by this, and died -- six people," Trump said. ... "And it wasn’t their fault. It was the fault of a country that could have stopped it." (Samuels, 9/15)
In related news —
The Washington Post:
Woodward Says There Was ‘Denial Across The Board’ In White House About Severity Of Coronavirus
Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward said Tuesday that there was “denial across the board” among White House staffers about the severity of the coronavirus, and blamed President Trump for being a “bulldozer” who rejects opposing views. Woodward, whose new book, “Rage,” is based in part on 18 on-the-record interviews with Trump, made the comments in a Washington Post Live interview. (Sonmez, 9/15)