“There Is No Lie Here” – Trump Defends Early Coronavirus Comments

President Trump again insists his early comments downplaying COVID-19, which he knew to be extremely deadly at the time, were an attempt to avoid panic. NBC's Alice Barr reports.

(NBC News) — President Trump on Thursday again defended his early comments downplaying COVID-19, despite knowing the deadly potential of the virus.

“There was no lie here – what we’re doing is we’re leading – and we’re leading in a proper way,” he said.

The president is trying to reframe what he told veteran journalist Bob Woodward in early February for his upcoming book, but did not tell the American people: Coronavirus was airborne and deadly.

“You don’t want me jumping up and down, screaming ‘There’s going to be great death!’ and really causing some very serious problems for the country,” Mr. Trump said.

A month later the president told Woodward why he was intentionally downplaying the threat, saying “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Throughout February, after telling Woodward how easily the virus spread, the president continued to hold crowded campaign rallies, while telling the american public “this is a flu.”

Mr. Trump is also trying to shift the blame to Woodward.

“If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad then he should of immediately, after I said it, go out to authorities and let them know,” the president said.

Woodward says he didn’t know whether the president was telling the truth and needed time to verify the comments.

More than 190,000 Americans have died of COVID-19.

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