President Donald Trump was aware of the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and its threat posed to the US ever since January, but always wanted to 'play it down', a forthcoming book 'RAGE' by investigative journalist Bob Woodward stated.
"This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency," national security adviser Robert O'Brien told Trump during an Oval Office meeting on January 28, Woodward's book as quoted by The Washington Post. "This is going to be the roughest thing you face," O'Brien had added.
Trump had later called Woodward and said in an on-record interview: "You just breathe the air and 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 even your strenuous flu. This is deadly stuff," he said in the interview, excerpts of which were released by Woodward on Wednesday.
But the message conveyed to the public was contradictory. He had said that the threat to the US from the coronavirus was ephemeral and will be over soon, the media reported.
"I wanted to always play it down," Trump had told Woodward in another interview on March 19.
The President has been condemned for the handling of the pandemic in the country, alleged of deliberately ignoring the advice given time and again by health experts, possibly to avoid any negative impact on his re-election chances, the media stated.
Woodward's book is based on several on-record interviews with the president, from covering his response to the anti-racism protests, meetings with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, Nuclear programs and so forth.
The book also talks about 25 never-seen personal letters exchanged between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, obtained by Woodward.