Trump misled public about Covid, blamed China, now Woodward

Donald Trump has been exposed yet again for misleading the public, this time about the severity of Covid. He blamed China for doing what he did (blame diversion is typical of Trump), and now he is trying to blame Bob Woodward for not revealing his misinformation sooner.

Back in April Trump warns of consequences ‘if China responsible’

US President Donald Trump has warned China that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus pandemic, as he ratcheted up criticism of Beijing over its handling of the outbreak.

“It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it,” Trump told a daily White House briefing.

It could have been far less worse in the US if Trump had been transparent and honest about the severity of Covid, and had acted faster and more decisively. Instead he fostered a culture of Covid denial in the US, and this affected how many states dealt with the virus – inadequately until it had already spread and killed many people.

Trump and senior aides have accused China of a lack of transparency after the coronavirus broke out late last year in its city of Wuhan. 

Bob Woodward has just revealed that Trump was far from transparent about what he knew.

Trump also again cast doubt on China’s death toll, which was revised up on Friday. China said 1,300 people who died of the coronavirus in Wuhan – half the total – were not counted, but dismissed allegations of a cover-up.

The United States has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 720,000 infections and over 37,000 deaths.

In May Trump harshly blames China for pandemic; a lab ‘mistake’?

In recent days the Trump administration has sharpened its rhetoric on China, accusing the geopolitical foe and vital trading partner of failing to act swiftly enough to sound the alarm about the outbreak or to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

That pretty much describes how Trump mishandled it in the US.

US officials have said the Chinese government should “pay a price“ for its handling of the pandemic

The US has paid a huge price – they now total 6.6 million cases and have had nearly 200,000 deaths attributed to Covid.

Now from NPR: Woodward Book Casts New Light On Trump’s Fight With WHO

President Trump has publicly blamed the World Health Organization for being slow to sound alarm bells about the coronavirus.

“On March 3, 2020, the World Health Organization cited official Chinese data to downplay the very serious risk of asymptomatic spread, telling the world that ‘COVID- 19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza.’ ” Trump wrote, in a May 18 letter addressed to WHO leadership. “It is now clear that China’s assertions, repeated to the world by the World Health Organization, were wildly inaccurate.”

“Many lives could have been saved” had WHO warned the world earlier, Trump wrote. Later that month, he announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the global health agency.

Now, taped conversations between the president and journalist Bob Woodward, as reported in the forthcoming book Rage, indicate that in early February, Trump was well aware of the dangers of the coronavirus and chose to downplay the public health threat to Americans.

“This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward in a Feb. 7 conversation. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

For public health expert Jeremy Konydyk, the conversations clearly demonstrate that the president has been scapegoating WHO for failures of his administration. “These tapes make clear that the very things that the president was accusing WHO of failing to share, specifically the lethality and the transmissibility of this virus, were things he was already well aware of,” says Konyndyk.

Scapegoating WHO, scapegoating China, while Trump was making the mistakes he was accusing them of.

Trump told Woodward in a subsequent interview in March that he was downplaying the virus’s severity to avoid panic — a point he reiterated at a news conference September 10. “I don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming, ‘Death! Death!'” the president said.

But public health experts say the president’s attempts to reassure the public have had the opposite effect. “If you want the public to remain reasonably calm, if you want them not to be confused and uncertain, you tell them the truth,” says Lawrence Gostin, head of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and director of a WHO collaborating center on global health law.

Gostin believes that public trust is gained when “you level with the American population” and tell what’s known about a situation, what’s still unclear and when and how the uncertainties will be resolved. Instead, when “the World Health Organization said it was serious and Trump downplayed it — that’s a recipe for fear and panic,” he says.

Trump fomented and encouraged and promoted an anti-Covid movement in the US.

And typically Trump denies lying about risks of coronavirus

He tweeted on Thursday that Woodward did not report his quotes for months. “He knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!”

Later he told reporters he never lied, when they suggested he deliberately misled the American public on how dangerous the virus was.

In a White House news conference on Thursday afternoon, he said in response to a reporter’s question: “I didn’t lie, what I said is we have to be calm, we can’t be panicked.”

That’s not what he said. He deliberately downplayed the severity of Covid, which encouraged many people to downplay the severity including to deny it was a problem aat all and should be virtually ignored.

He added: “I don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming, ‘death, death’, because that’s not what it’s about.”

That’s a stupid statement.

“Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?” Mr Trump said.

“Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!”

And true to form, when challenged on his bullshitting, he blamed the messenger, and also claimed Woodward supported his bull.

This won’t stop people devoutly supporting Trump while stoutly disputing the severity of Covid.

Woodward has been criticised by others as well.

Woodward has been criticised for withholding the president’s remarks on the pandemic, with some saying it was an unethical decision.

The journalist offered a defence in the Washington Post and Associated Press on Wednesday, saying he needed to check whether what Mr Trump told him was accurate.

“The biggest problem I had, which is always a problem with Trump, is I didn’t know if it was true,” Woodward told The Post.

That’s always been a problem with Trump. People tend to just believe what they want to believe because Trump lies and distorts the truth so much.

Woodward’s book, Rage, will be released on 15 September.

Bob Woodward on Donald Trump – Fear and Crazytown

Bob Woodward has been a reporter and editor since 1971. he shot to prominence in 1972 when with Carl Bernstein did a lot of reporting that led to Watergate and the eventual resignation of Richard Nixon.

A number of parallels have been suggested between Nixon and Donald Trump, but there are also significant differences.

Woodward has written a book on Trump called fear. The Washington Post reports: Bob Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency

…“Fear,” a forthcoming book by Bob Woodward that paints a harrowing portrait of the Trump presidency, based on in-depth interviews with administration officials and other principals.

Woodward writes that his book is drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses that were conducted on “deep background,” meaning the information could be used but he would not reveal who provided it. His account is also drawn from meeting notes, personal diaries and government documents.

The president called Woodward in early August, after the manuscript had been completed, to say he wanted to participate. The president complained that it would be a “bad book,” according to an audio recording of the conversation. Woodward replied that his work would be “tough,” but factual and based on his reporting.

A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.

Woodward describes “an administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so he couldn’t see or sign them.

Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.

This is fairly credible because it’s fairly obvious that this is a fairly plausible explanation for Trump’s statements and behaviour.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly frequently lost his temper and told colleagues that he thought the president was “unhinged,” Woodward writes. In one small group meeting, Kelly said of Trump: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

Some one has to do it to try and keep the United States on the rails.

At a National Security Council meeting on Jan. 19, Trump disregarded the significance of the massive U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, including a special intelligence operation that allows the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds vs. 15 minutes from Alaska, according to Woodward. Trump questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all.

“We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him.

After Trump left the meeting, Woodward recounts, “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.’ ”

Reince Priebus, Kelly’s predecessor, fretted that he could do little to constrain Trump from sparking chaos. Woodward writes that Priebus dubbed the presidential bedroom, where Trump obsessively watched cable news and tweeted, “the devil’s workshop,” and said early mornings and Sunday evenings, when the president often set off tweetstorms, were “the witching hour.”

The devil’s workshop has been getting busier and more bizarre as time goes on. One reaction yesterday to ongoing attacks on the US Attorney General: Trump shows why he is unfit for office. From ‘Fear’:

A near-constant subject of withering presidential attacks was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump told Porter that Sessions was a “traitor” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, Woodward writes. Mocking Sessions’s accent, Trump added, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”

Trump has been a particular concern in the volatile Middle East.

After Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump said, according to Woodward.

Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.”

Other officials manipulated Trump.

Cohn, a Wall Street veteran, tried to tamp down Trump’s strident nationalism regarding trade. According to Woodward, Cohn “stole a letter off Trump’s desk” that the president was intending to sign to formally withdraw the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea. Cohn later told an associate that he removed the letter to protect national security and that Trump did not notice that it was missing.

Cohn came to regard the president as “a professional liar” and threatened to resign in August 2017 over Trump’s handling of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

Trump was sharply criticized for initially saying that “both sides” were to blame. At the urging of advisers, he then condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but almost immediately told aides,

“That was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made” and the “worst speech I’ve ever given,” according to Woodward’s account.

On North Korea:

Woodward recounts repeated episodes of anxiety inside the government over Trump’s handling of the North Korean nuclear threat. One month into his presidency, Trump asked Dunford for a plan for a preemptive military strike on North Korea, which rattled the combat veteran.

On family and advisers:

The president’s family members, while sometimes touted as his key advisers by other Trump chroniclers, are minor players in Woodward’s account, popping up occasionally in the West Wing and vexing adversaries.

Woodward recounts an expletive-laden altercation between Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and senior adviser, and Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief White House strategist.

“You’re a goddamn staffer!” Bannon screamed at her, telling her that she had to work through Priebus like other aides. “You walk around this place and act like you’re in charge, and you’re not. You’re on staff!”

Ivanka Trump, who had special access to the president and worked around Priebus, replied: “I’m not a staffer! I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter.”

The Mueller inquiry:

The book vividly recounts the ongoing debate between Trump and his lawyers about whether the president would sit for an interview with Mueller. On March 5, Dowd and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow met in Mueller’s office with the special counsel and his deputy, James Quarles.

Dowd then explained to Mueller and Quarles why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: “I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’ ”

“John, I understand,” Mueller replied, according to Woodward.

But Trump, concerned about the optics of a president refusing to testify and convinced that he could handle Mueller’s questions, had by then decided otherwise.

“I’ll be a real good witness,” Trump told Dowd, according to Woodward.

“You are not a good witness,” Dowd replied. “Mr. President, I’m afraid I just can’t help you.”

The next morning, Dowd resigned.

There will no doubt be more on Woodward’s book.

But remarkably there is little about Trump that will shock, because he has been such a train wreck that the absurd and the outlandish and the scary have become normal Trump news.

It could be that ‘Fear’ tips Trump over the edge, demanding something be done about his dysfunctional presidency, but the odds are that the White House will stagger on while Trump increasingly obsesses over Twitter. Some oof his recent tweets:

Some will applaud these tirades as Trump telling things as they are, but they are a telling indication of John Kelyu’s observations from having to deal with him:

“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown.”