The internet is furious over a new book by legendary author/journalist Bob Woodward that contains bombshell revelations about the extent to which President Donald Trump lied and misled the public about coronavirus.
In Rage, Woodward reveals that Trump was first warned about the virus during a top-secret national security briefing on Jan. 28, according to CNN, which received an advance copy of the book as well as some of Woodward's recordings of their conversations. In that briefing, national security adviser Robert O'Brien told Trump the coronavirus "could be the biggest national security threat of your presidency."
O'Brien's deputy warned that the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, could be as deadly as the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918, which killed 50 million worldwide, including 675,000 Americans, according to estimates.
On Feb. 7, Trump discussed the virus with Woodward over the phone. "This is deadly stuff," Trump said.
The president also said the virus was airborne and five times deadlier than the flu.
"It goes through the air," Trump said. "That's always tougher than the touch. You don't have to touch things. Right? But the air, 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 flus."
Yet in subsequent weeks, Trump helped spread misinformation equivocating the deadliness of the seasonal flu with the novel coronavirus.
The president also repeatedly publicly claimed that it wasn't going to be that bad and that the U.S. either had it, or would soon have it, under control.
To date the coronavirus has infected six million and killed nearly 200,000 Americans.
In mid-March, Trump admitted to Woodward that he intentionally lied.
"I wanted to always play it down," Trump said on March 19, days after he declared a national emergency over the virus. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."
Democrats rushed to issue scathing recriminations of Trump.
"[Trump] knew and purposely played it down … he failed to do his job on purpose! … It’s beyond despicable. It’s a dereliction of duty. It’s a disgrace," Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said today.
"There is damning proof that Donald Trump lied and people died … we all know Donald Trump puts himself first, but this time the consequences were deadly," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference this afternoon.
Outrage was palpable on social media.
Though much anger was directed at Trump, plenty took aim at Republicans.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said at a news conference, "This is about Donald Trump, but it is also about Senate Republicans who have for years now enabled Donald Trump.
"You just reach a point where you say 'what's wrong with these people?'"
Surprisingly, Dr. Anthony Fauci emerged as one of Trump's defenders. Woodward's book alleges that he said that Trump's attention span was "like a minus number" and the only thing he cares about is his re-election, per CNN.
In an appearance on Fox this afternoon, Fauci said he didn't recall saying those things.
"I didn't get any sense that he was distorting anything. In my discussions with him, they were always straightforward about the concerns that we had," Fauci also said.