At a White House press conference on Wednesday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly lied about Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, hours after excerpts from journalist Bob Woodward's new book, Rage, about that response were made public.
In interviews recorded by Woodward, Trump admitted that he deceived the American public in discussing the coronavirus. "I wanted to always play it down," Trump said on March 19. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."
But in a press conference on Wednesday following the release of the recordings, McEnany said, "The president has never lied to the American public on COVID."
From a Sept. 9 press conference at the White House:
REPORTER: It will now appear that the president lied to the American public about the threat posed by COVID?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: The president has never lied to the American public on COVID. The president was expressing calm, and his actions reflect that.
In fact, Trump has repeatedly lied to the American public about the coronavirus crisis. In March, Trump played down the severity of the coronavirus by comparing it to the flu, saying: "We've never closed down the country for the flu. So you say to yourself, 'What is this all about?'" In May, Trump lied about the death toll in the United States compared with that in other countries. As recently as July, Trump said that 99 percent of coronavirus cases are benign, which is another lie.
REPORTER: You quoted Dr. Fauci. Dr. Fauci is also apparently on the record saying of President Trump that his attention span 'is like a minus number,' and 'his sole purpose is to get reelected.' That's according to veteran journalist Bob Woodward.
I think the bottom line here is that the president, by his own admission in private on the record, acknowledged the depth of this crisis, and yet told the American people something very different.
How is that, at its core, not an abject betrayal of the public trust?
MCENANY: The president has always been clear-eyed with the American people. He was always clear-eyed about the lives we could lose. Again, from this podium, he acknowledged that this was serious, back in March that 100,000, 200,000 lives could be lost.
With regard to Dr. Fauci, you're referring to a quote he allegedly told Bob Woodward, and I can give you quotes that we can all play on loop and video of him saying that this response was impressive, and he can't imagine anyone under any circumstance doing anything better. Dr Fauci saying this: I can just tell you the president — the first and only time I went and said you need to do mitigation strongly, the response was yes, we will do it. The second time I went with Dr. Birx to the president and said, 15 days to slow the spread are not enough, we need to go to 30 days. Obviously there were a lot of people who had problems with that because of potential secondary effects. Nonetheless, the president went with the health recommendations.
So there's a long litany of praise from Dr. Fauci and you're referencing something he allegedly told Bob Woodward.
REPORTER: It's on tape. It's on tape, Kayleigh.
Bob Woodward recorded many of his conversations with sources, according to CNN. According to Woodward's book, Fauci told a colleague that Trump was "rudderless" during the crisis.
REPORTER: On Feb. 7, he [Trump] says, 'It's deadly stuff,' about coronavirus. In private, on the record. In public, though, Feb. 28, he says, 'One day, it's like a miracle — it will disappear.'
It's one thing as a public figure not to try to incite panic. It's a very different thing, respectfully, to lie and mislead the American people about a crisis that has claimed nearly 200,000 American lives.
MCENANY: No one is lying to the American people. One day COVID will go away. I think we can all hope for that day. We will have a vaccine because of this president tearing through bureaucracy to get a safe and effective vaccine.
One day it will go away. That is a fact. It is not inciting fear.
This president has expressed calmness from this podium, mobilized the greatest mobilization of the private sector since World War II, got more tests than any country in the world on COVID. A vaccine which by the way it will be a record for a novel pathogen, the timing of this vaccine should we get it by the end of the year or should we get it even three years, which was the timing of Ebola. This president has done an unprecedented job dealing with COVID, one that Dr. Fauci even acknowledged, and like I said, I will get you that clip to your inbox.
"The virus is not going to disappear," Fauci has said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 200,000 Americans had died and more than 6.3 million Americans had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.