White House trade adviser Peter Navarro dismissed concerns on Sunday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump slams Nevada governor at rally, takes aim at mail-in voting Former NFL coach Mike Holmgren slams Trump pandemic response, throws support to Biden Watch Live: Trump rallies supporters in Nevada MORE was purposely downplaying the threat of the coronavirus earlier this year in light of recently released recordings that show Trump privately acknowledged the threat to journalist Bob Woodward in February.
CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperOvernight Defense: Trump announces new US ambassador to Afghanistan | Pentagon officially withdraws plan to end ‘Stars and Stripes’ | Biden says Trump doesn’t understand national security, intel officials ‘don’t trust’ him Biden vows to be ‘totally transparent’ on his health if elected Biden says Trump doesn’t understand national security, intel officials ‘don’t trust’ him MORE asked Navarro during a heated interview on “State of the Union” about Trump’s comments in a Feb. 7 interview with Woodward for a forthcoming book that contradicted what the president said publicly about the coronavirus a couple days later.
Recordings released last week show Trump privately told Woodward the coronavirus was five times deadlier than the flu, but during a press conference a couple of days after the president said the opposite when asked about the coronavirus.
Asked by Tapper on Sunday why the president was misleading the public, Navarro responded by noting Trump’s so-called travel ban on China imposed at the end of January and plans the White house created in early February to prepare for the virus.
“You’re not answering my question, you’re talking about what you were doing privately,” Tapper told Navarro.
Tapper pressed Navarro on the contradiction between Trump’s public comments and those to Woodward, noting that even some Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine.), called Trump out after the recording was released.
“Why wasn’t the president straightforward with the American people?” Tapper asked.
“He was straightforward,” Navarro responded, adding that Tapper was “cherry picking.”
Tapper said he was not cherry picking, and said he wanted Navarro to answer the question.
Navarro continued defending Trump’s comments, claiming that “CNN is not honest with the American people.”
Trump participated in multiple interviews with Woodward for his forthcoming book titled, “Rage,” which is the journalist’s second on the Trump presidency.
Last week, Trump said “perhaps” he misled the public to “reduce panic” about the coronavirus, when asked about the recordings.
“If you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that’s so,” Trump told reporters last Wednesday when asked if he downplayed the virus or misled the public to avoid panic.
“The fact is I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country,” Trump continued. “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.