Private Statements by President Trump Revealed to the Public

Quotes Reveal He Knowingly Downplayed the Coronavirus and Disparaged Fallen Soldiers

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Isaac Miller, Radio Manager

Bridgewater, Va. – With less than 50 days remaining before the United States presidential election, new reports of President Donald Trump purposefully downplaying the coronavirus and verbally degrading fallen soldiers have surfaced.

In a series of taped interviews with journalist Bob Woodward, parts of which are available on The Washington Post’s website, President Trump was candid about the threat the coronavirus posed to Americans. On Feb. 7, 2020, the president told Woodward that “you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” adding that “it’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” 

While seeming to understand the gravity of the new outbreak privately, President Trump downplayed the severity of the pandemic (which to date has killed more than 193,000 Americans) in public.

 During a White House news conference on Feb. 26, 2020, the president said the coronavirus was “a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for,” and that “we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a very quick manner.”

In March, President Trump was straightforward with Woodward about his intentions to conceal the severity of the outbreak to the public. In an interview on March 19, 2020, the president told Woodward that “I wanted to always play it down… I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

These recordings were compounded by reporting in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg on Sep. 3. 

During a trip to France in 2018, President Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery because it was “filled with losers,” and he referred to the 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Woods as “suckers” for falling in combat. Publicly, the president stated that he canceled the trip because the Secret Service would not drive him there and that “the helicopter couldn’t fly.”

President Trump publicly denied that he had made the statements quoted in The Atlantic article, telling reporters in the Oval Office the day the story broke that “it’s a fake story and it’s a disgrace that they’re allowed to do it.” 

Treasurer for the Bridgewater College Republican Club Jared Browne does not think that these comments will ultimately harm Trump’s chances of reelection. 

For many conservatives “it’s not personality traits that make a good leader, it’s what their policies actually accomplish,” Browne noted, adding that President Trump has largely succeeded in advancing conservative policy goals like energy and environmental deregulation. 

President of the Young Democrats Grace Kellar made a similar point. “I think the coronavirus comments will not bother his supporters nearly as much as those who are already not for Trump,” said Kellar arguing that his existing base of support has largely been solidified.

The views of these two student leaders have largely been supported by recent polling. According to FiveThirtyEight’s national polling averages, Joe Biden led Donald Trump in national polls by an average of 7.3 percent on Sept. 3, 2020 — the day The Atlantic article was published. As of Sept. 12, 2020, Biden led Trump by an average of 7.6 percent, meaning that the statement’s effect, if any, has been negligible.