Trump caught on tape ‘lying’ about COVID
Donald Trump has been accused of deliberately downplaying the threat of the coronavirus for more than a month after he knew how contagious and deadly it was, in a new book based on interviews with the president.
He also boasted about creating a new nuclear weapons system, according to excerpts of veteran journalist Robert Woodward's new book Rage, which also sheds new light on how close the US came to war with North Korea in 2017.
"We never knew whether it was real or whether it was a bluff," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly said.
But Woodward writes that the Trump administration's then Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis slept in his uniform in case Pyongyang launched a nuclear missile and repeatedly prayed at the National Cathedral.
The claims are among several in the book by Woodward, the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who with colleague Carl Bernstein exposed the Watergate scandal that ended Richard Nixon's presidency.
For the sequel to his 2018 bestseller Fear, Woodward interviewed Trump 18 times from last December until July, according to CNN and The Washington Post.
"I wanted to always play it down," Woodward quotes Trump as telling him on March 19.
"I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."
Three weeks later, Trump said at the White House: "I said it's going away and it is going away."
Woodward reports that the president told him Covid was going to be "deadly stuff" on February 7, the same day that he publicly said the pandemic was "going to disappear" and "all work out fine".
The book also quotes the top US infectious diseases chief Anthony Fauci of denigrating Trump, calling him "rudderless" and saying his "attention span is like a minus number".
"His sole purpose is to get re-elected," Dr Fauci is quoted as saying.
But on Fox News today, Dr Fauci said he had not seen Mr Trump playing down the virus in public while expressing concerns behind doors.
"I did not see that kind of distortion," he said.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied Trump had misled Americans about Covid, saying he had done an "unprecedented job".
"At a time when you are facing insurmountable challenges it's important to express confidence, it's important to express calm," McEnany said when asked about the contradictory messages.
When asked why the president agreed to so many interviews with Woodward she said it was because: "He's the most transparent president in history."
While the president had agreed to the on the record interviews on which the book is based, he appeared to be having some regrets last month, tweeting: "The Bob Woodward book will be a FAKE, as always, just as many of the others have been".
Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden seized on the reports, accusing Trump of a "life and death betrayal of the American people"."He lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat imposed to the country," Biden said on a campaign stop in Michigan."He failed to do his job-on purpose."
TRUMP NOMINATED FOR NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
US President Donald Trump has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize after his administration helped to broker peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Mr Trump was nominated by Norwegian politician Christian Tybring-Gjedde, who praised Mr Trump for his role in the establishment of relations between the UAE and Israel.
"For his merit, I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees," Mr Tybring-Gjedde told Fox News.
He also hailed the US President for his role in talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
"As it is expected other Middle Eastern countries will follow in the footsteps of the UAE, this agreement could be a game changer that will turn the Middle East into a region of co-operation and prosperity," he wrote in a nomination letter.
It came on the same day that the top US commander in the Middle East announced in Baghdad that 2,200 American troops will withdraw from Iraq by the end of this month.
Marine General Frank McKenzie made the announcement alongside the Iraqi Minister of Defence as a sign that the troop reduction decision was made in consultation with the government of Iraq.
"The United States has decided to reduce our troop presence in Iraq from about 5,200 to 3,000 troops during the month of September," Gen McKenzie said.
"This reduced footprint allows us to continue advising and assisting our Iraqi partners in rooting out the final remnants of ISIS in Iraq and ensuring its enduring defeat," he added.
Mr Tybring-Gjedde praised the president for withdrawing troops from the Middle East.
"Indeed, Trump has broken a 39-year-old streak of American Presidents either starting a war or bringing the United States into an international armed conflict. The last president to avoid doing so was Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter," he wrote.
The president announced the historic peace agreement that would lead to full normalisation of relations between the Israel and the UAE.
With the agreement, the UAE becomes the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to have full diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is married to first daughter Ivanka Trump, helped pushed the deal through.
Since the deal was made public, Israel signalled that it is willing to explore business opportunities with the UAE, specifically in the areas of commercial space and high tech.
Trump allies have previously suggested the possibility of a Nobel in response to his negotiations with North Korea.
The president also has grumbled about the prize, noting that his predecessor Barack Obama had won it.
"They gave it to Obama. He didn't even know what he got it for. He was there for about 15 seconds and he got the Nobel Prize. He said, 'Oh, what did I get it for?'" Trump said in February 2019. "With me, I probably will never get it."
Mr Tybring-Gjedde also submitted a Nobel nomination for Mr Trump along with another Norwegian official in 2018 after the president's Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize after receiving a request from the US government to do so, according to reports.
According to the official Nobel website, there were 318 candidates for the 2020 Peace Prize. The winner of the prize for 2021 will not be announced until October of next year.
Originally published as Trump caught on tape 'lying' about COVID