White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Wednesday that President Donald Trump ‘never lied to the American public’ on the coronavirus pandemic.
‘The president has never lied to the American public on COVID. He was expressing calm,’ she said in her press briefing as she batted away question after question about allegations in Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book ‘Rage.’
‘This president does what leaders do. Stay calm and resolute at a time when you face a challenge,’ she said.
McEnany’s 25-minute briefing was dominated with questions about President Trump’s comments to Woodward on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 6.35 million Americans and killed more than 190,000 people.
Her briefing began shortly after 1 p.m. more than an hour after its scheduled noon start. The first excerpts from Woodward’s forthcoming book dropped shortly before noon.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said President Donald Trump ‘never lied to the American public’ on the coronavirus pandemic
President Trump gave 18 interviews to Bob Woodward for his upcoming book ‘Fear’
Trump, in recorded phone interviews with the author in February, gave a starkly different assessment of COVID in private than he was giving to the public as the virus was spreading from China to other parts of the world.
‘You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,’ Trump told him in a Feb. 7 call. ‘And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.’
But he told reporters on that same date, as he was traveling to North Carolina, that he thought China was ‘doing a very good job’ handling the virus.
And he tweeted on the same day that China ‘will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.’
McEnany said Wednesday that President Trump never ‘down played the virus’ and argued he was handling the situation while impeachment proceedings were happening on Capitol Hill.
‘The president never down played the virus. The president expressed calm and he was serious about this when Democrats were pursuing their sham impeachment,’ she said.
She argued President Trump took the virus seriously from the start, repeating the often used White House argument about implementing the travel ban from China on January 31. But the ban was just on foreign nationals who had been in China and was not a total ban on travel to the and from the country.
Trump himself told the nation Jan. 30: ‘We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five. And those people are all recuperating successfully.’
Trump sat down for 18 interviews with Woodward, the legendary Washington Post reporter who broke the news of the Watergate break-in and has interviewed every president since Richard Nixon.
Bob Woodward’s new book’Rage’ comes out September 15
He told Woodward in a March 19 interview of his public comments on COVID: ‘I wanted to always play it down.’
‘I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,’ he said.
‘Rage’ comes out September 15. Woodward will be on ’60 Minutes’ on Sunday to talk about his interviews withe president.
His first book on the Trump presidency, ‘Fear,’ revealed aides hid papers from the president to keep him from signing things and that former White House chief of staff John Kelly though Trump was ‘unhinged.’
Trump complained at the time he was not interviewed for the book.
McEnany said he sat down with Woodward for this book ‘because he is the most transparent president in history.’
Woodward conducted 18 interviews with Trump between December and July, according to the Post.
As in his prior work, he relies on anonymous sourcing and ‘deep background’ information.