Biden says Trump downplaying coronavirus threat was 'almost criminal'
We begin tonight with those bombshell recordings president trump giving journalist Bob Woodward, eighteen interviews, and during those interviews, the president admits to downplaying the coronavirus in the US early on telling. Woodward. He knew the virus was deadlier than the flu saying privately, it goes through the air. That's. How it's passed, the president telling Woodward an early February that the virus would be deadlier than the flu but weeks later, his words in public telling the American people that the virus was like the flu it was in March the president talks about the toll with Woodward, not just on older Americans but revealing its quote young people to plenty of young people. During interviews president trump admits to intentionally misleading the American public because he didn't want to cause a panic. Tonight how the president is now explaining those comments how different they were in public versus private at his opponent Joe Biden's response to ABC's chief White. House. Correspondent Jonathan Karl leading US off. It's all on tape president trump bluntly acknowledging the Bob Woodward he fully understood the deadly threat posed by corona virus and that he was misleading the American public about it in his book rage Woodward writes that National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. Told President Trump on January twenty eighth that Corona virus quote will be the biggest national security threat facing your presidency ten days. Later, Woodward interviewed the president and they spoke about the virus. Here's an excerpt from the audiotape obtained by CNN breathe the air 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 your. You Know Your even your strenuous lose for more deadly. This is five per you know this is five percent versus one percent less than one percent you know. So this is deadly stuff but just three weeks after that the president told the American people krona virus is like the flu directly contradicting what he told Woodward. This is a flu. This is like a flu within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That's a pretty good job we've done. You may ask about the coronavirus which is. Very well under control in our country in another interview in March, the president candidly acknowledged to Woodward he wasn't being upfront with the American people. Starting out, it's not just old people, which is today and yesterday. Some startling facts came out. It's not just old old exactly able to plenty of young people. It's clear just from what's in the public record that you went through a pivot this to Oh my God the gravity is almost inexplicable unexplainable I think bob? Really. To be honest with year I want you I wanted to I wanted to always play it down I still like playing down. Yes. Because I don't want to create a panic and the very next week the president said this America will again. And soon be open for business. very soon a lot sooner than. Three or four months at somebody was suggesting. Lot sooner we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. The president today was asked directly. If he was misleading the public in order to prevent a panic and he acknowledged again, he had been well I. Think if you said in order to reduce panicked perhaps it. So the fact is a cheerleader for this country I love country campaigning in Michigan today Joe Biden who has made the president's handling of krona virus a centerpiece of his campaign called the president's comments to Woodward, a disgrace he knew and purposely played it down worse. He lied to the American people he knowingly and willingly lied about the threat posed to the country for months he knew how dangerous it was. All this deadly disease ripped through our nation he failed to do his job on purpose. Was a life and death betrayal of the American people. And to let's bring in Giancarl, with us, tonight in the white. House was pressed on this today really in a question that many folks at home are likely asking tonight why? Why would the president offer Woodward such a detailed account of the dangers of the coronavirus yet deliver a different message to the American people didn't he know that talking with journalists that this would ultimately reported? Well David. It's extraordinary. The president did eighteen separate interviews with Bob Woodward over the course of several months as he was working on this book his National Security Adviser just a short while ago said this was the president's decision to do those interviews and that he was quote willing to go into the lions ring with Bob Woodward but I can tell you I think another factor here is that when Woodward wrote his last book. The president was upset that his staff turndown Woodward's request to get an interview with him He believes that he can talk himself out of anything and if you could talk enough to Bob Woodward's, he would have a positive portrayal in his book