President Donald Trump’s interview with leftist reporter Bob Woodward went viral this week, but one major part of it seems to have already fallen apart.
Woodward released a snippet from the interview that features Trump on tape back in March trying to downplay the severity of the coronavirus.
Almost immediately after the recorded interview went viral, White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci came to Trump’s defense.
During an interview on Fox News’ “The Daily Briefing,” Fauci — who has had a few reported spats with the president — said he “didn’t get any sense” that the president “was distorting anything” about the coronavirus pandemic.
The interview kicked off when host John Roberts asked Fauci if he thought Trump had played down the threat of the virus.
“No, I didn’t,” Fauci responded. “I didn’t get any sense that he was distorting anything. I mean in my discussions with him, they were always straightforward about the concerns that we had. We related that to him. And when he would go out, I’d hear him discussing the same sort of things. He would often say, ‘We just got through with a briefing with the group from the task force,’ and would talk about it. So it may have happened, but I have not seen that kind of distortion.”
Roberts also asked Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whether Trump broke with his advisers in trying to downplay the virus.
“You were there through that whole thing,” Roberts said. “Was that the playbook or was that the president just going his own direction?”
“I don’t think so, John,” Fauci responded. “I don’t recall anything different than in our discussions that we had with the president that he said things quite similar publicly.”
“I didn’t really go over any of the text since it just came out,” Fauci told Roberts. “But you know, in my discussions and the discussions of other task force members with the president, we’re talking about the reality of what was going on.
“And then when we would get up in front of the press conferences, which were very, very common after our discussions with the president, he really didn’t say anything different than we discussed when we were with him,” he went on. “I may not be tuned in to the right thing that they’re talking about. But, I didn’t see any discrepancies between what he told us and what we told him, and what he came out publicly and said.”
Fauci and Trump have certainly had their differences.
So, it was a big deal that Fauci appeared on Fox News to defend Trump almost immediately after the Woodward tapes were released.
Dr. Fauci says President Trump did not distort the coronavirus information they discussed pic.twitter.com/QjDdH6LPCG
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) September 9, 2020
During an interview Wednesday night on Fox News, Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that he downplayed the virus in public because he did not want to cause panic or freaking people out.
The president said he was trying to display calmness and keep everyone together, which is certainly what a president should do.
Trump said it “wasn’t a big deal” that he spoke with Woodward and that he “almost definitely” won’t read the book because he “doesn’t have time.”
Asked by reporters if he downplayed the virus or misled the public after the recordings were released, Trump told reporters, “If you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that’s so.”
“The fact is I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country,” Trump added. “I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly, I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy.”