Donald Trump claims he ‘played UP’ the coronavirus at town hall

Donald Trump claims he ‘played UP’ the coronavirus after bombshell admission he ‘played it down’ – and claims it would ‘go away WITHOUT a vaccine’ as diabetic man challenges him at town hall: ‘Why did you throw people like me under the bus?’

  • President Trump flew to Philadelphia for a town hall broadcast on ABC where he faced difficult questions from voters 
  • Pittsburgh man said he was conservative and pro-life – then said he was diabetic and had to dodge people not wearing masks and asked: ‘Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?’ 
  • Trump was pressed on mask-wearing and his coronavirus response with Julie Bart, from Gibsonia, saying: ‘Why don’t you wear a mask more often?’
  • Moderator George Stephanopoulos pushed Trump on his statements that the coronavirus will ‘go away’ 
  • He also shrugged off revelations in Bob Woodward’s book that he privately admitted he downplayed the virus, saying he didn’t want to cause ‘panic’  
  • Town hall was first of its kind since the start of the pandemic and first time Trump has come face to face with ordinary voters in this election cycle
  • He flew back and forth from Washington and enjoyed a Philly cheese steak on the way home aboard Air Force One 

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President Donald Trump defended his handling of the coronavirus during a town hall meeting that aired Tuesday night – including from a former supporter who asked him why he threw ‘people like me under the bus.’

‘Yeah, well I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways I up-played it in terms of action,’ Trump said early in the town hall program broadcast on ABC. 

Trump was responding to a direct question from a voter at the event in Philadelphia, where a series of uncommitted voters challenged him with pointed questions on the virus, race, policing and immigration. 

The primetime special was the first of its kind in this election cycle and the first time in many months that Trump has come into contact with undecided voters. It was held in a virtually empty venue, with the small number of questioners the only audience, some of whom kept their masks on when they spoke.

It was moderated by George Stephanopoulos and saw Trump pressed repeatedly – both by questioners and by the GMA anchor – on his handling of the pandemic, race relations, and crime.

‘If you believe it’s the president’s responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities,’ the voter, Ajani Powell, a woman from Pittsburgh asked. 

Later, asked if he had any regrets, he said: ‘No, I think we did a great job.’

Trump’s response came days after Bob Woodward’s book ‘Rage’ revealed Trump telling the author in a March 19 that he played down the virus to avoid ‘panic.’

‘I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic,’ the president told Woodward, in an interview captured on tape.  

President Donald Trump faced tough questions from voters at an ABC town hall in Philadelphia that aired Tuesday night

President Donald Trump faced tough questions from voters at an ABC town hall in Philadelphia that aired Tuesday night

Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?' asked Paul Tubiana, who said he voted for Trump in 2016

Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?’ asked Paul Tubiana, who said he voted for Trump in 2016

Moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his statements that the coronavirus will 'go away'

Moderator George Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his statements that the coronavirus will ‘go away’

Host George Stephanopoulos challenged Trump on his administration's legal efforts to throw out Obamacare and his claim last year that he would produce a health care plan

Host George Stephanopoulos challenged Trump on his administration’s legal efforts to throw out Obamacare and his claim last year that he would produce a health care plan

Trump faced tough questions on his handling of the pandemic in a key battleground state he won in 2016

Trump faced some tough questions from the get-go, including from a man named Paul Tubiana who said he voted for him in 2016. 

‘I’m a conservative, pro-life and diabetic. I’ve had to dodge people who don’t care about social distancing and wearing face masks,’ he said – after Trump held rallies with mask-less supporters in the West.

‘I thought you were doing a good job with the pandemic response until about May 1st. Then you took your foot off the gas pedal. Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?’ he asked. 

‘Well, we really didn’t, Paul,’ Trump responded.

‘We’ve worked very hard on the pandemic. We’ve worked very hard. It came off from China. They should have never let it happen,’ he said. 

Interviewer George Stephanopoulos challenged Trump on past statements that the virus would ‘go away.’

‘It would go away without the vaccine, George, but it’s going to go away a lot faster with it,’ Trump told him.

‘It would go away without the vaccine?’ Stephanopoulos asked him.

‘Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time it goes away,’ Trump responded.

‘And many deaths,’ Stephanopoulos told him, as the nation approached 200,000 of them due to the coronavirus. 

‘And you’ll develop – you’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality,’ Trump said. ‘It’s going to be – it’s going to be herd-developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen,’ he said. 

'If you believe it's the president's responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities,' Ajani Powell, a voter from Pittsburgh, asked.

‘If you believe it’s the president’s responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities,’ Ajani Powell, a voter from Pittsburgh, asked.

Participant Laura Galvas asks about police brutality

Participant Laura Galvas asks about police brutality

Key quotes from Trump’s Philadelphia town hall 

On coronavirus: ‘Yeah, well I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways I up-played it in terms of action.’ 

From a Pittsburgh voter: ”Why did you throw vulnerable people like me under the bus?’ 

On coronavirus ‘going away’: ‘It would go away without the vaccine, George, but it’s going to go away a lot faster with it.’

Asked what people think masks are not good: ‘I’ll tell you who those people are – waiters.’ 

President Trump and George Stephanopoulos

President Trump and George Stephanopoulos

Blaming Joe Biden for lack of a national mask mandate: ‘Well no, but he didn’t do it. I mean, he never did it.’ 

On his long-delayed health care plan: ‘I have it all ready – I have it all ready.’

What he learned from the pandemic: ‘I learned that life is very fragile. I knew people that were powerful people, strong people, good people, and they got knocked out by this, and died – six people. It was five until about two weeks ago, now it’s six.’

On any regrets for handling the virus: ‘No, I think we did a great job.’

To grief-stricken questioner Flor Cruceta: ‘Just take your time, that’s fine. George has plenty of time, I hope, right?’

After Cruceta mentioned her cancer-stricken mom was from the Dominican Republic: ‘Did you say your mom got COVID?’ 

On cancelled trip to cemetery for fallen troops in France: ‘I said let me just go separately in a car in disguise, I don’t care. I wanted to be there so badly.’

Pastor Carl Day on Trump’s MAGA slogan: ‘Are you aware of how tone deaf that comes off the African American community?’

On report he called fallen U.S. troops ‘suckers’ and losers: ‘But the statements never happened, they were lies.’ 

On Winston Churchill. ‘He said, you’re going to be safe. Be calm, don’t panic. And you had bombers dropping bombs all over London. So I guess you could say that’s not so honest, but it’s still a great leader.’  

On dignified transfers of remains of U.S. soldiers: ”You know, I go to Dover and I greet, oftentimes, soldiers coming in, and they’re dead’ 

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In other remarks, Trump quoted comments from disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci early in the pandemic amid a shortage of protective gear – then noted that ‘some people’ say not to shut down businesses to spread disease transmission.

‘But whether it’s Dr. Fauci or anybody else, a lot of people got it wrong. They talked about don’t wear masks, and now they say wear masks. Although some people say don’t wear masks,’ Trump said.

‘I mean you have a lot of different ideas. Some people say just leave it the way it is and don’t do any shutdowns, and other people say do shutdowns,’ he said. 

Another questioner told him: ‘The wearing of masks has proven to lessen the spread of COVID. Why don’t you support a mandate for national mask wearing?’  

‘And a good question is, you ask why Joe Biden — they said we’re going to do a national mandate on masks,’ Trump said, referencing a comment Biden made weeks ago about what he might do once in office after consulting experts.

‘He’s called on all governors to have them. There’s a state responsibility,’ said Stephanopoulos. 

‘Well no, but he didn’t do it. I mean, he never did it,’ Trump said. 

‘I don’t want to drive our nation into a panic. I’m a cheerleader for this nation. I’m the one that closed up our country. I closed it up long before any of the experts thought I should — and saved hundreds of thousands of lives,’ Trump claimed. 

Trump also fielded a question from a woman who has sarcoidosis and said each year she pays $7,000 plus copays. 

‘From the day I was born, I was considerable uninsurable. That disease started in my skin, moved to my eyes, into my optic nerves, and when I went to graduate school, into my brain,’ she said.

She told the president: ‘And should preexisting conditions — which ObamaCare brought into — brought to fruition be removed  … within a 36 to 72-hour period, without my medication, I will be dead.’

When Trump tried to interject to say it would not be removed, she told him: ‘Please stop and let me finish my question, sir.’

‘We are not going to hurt anything having to do with preexisting conditions. We’re not going to hurt preexisting conditions. And — in fact, just the opposite,’ Trump said.

‘If you look at what they want to do, where they have socialized medicine, they will get rid of preexisting conditions,’ Trump claimed. He did not note, as the questioner did, that Obamacare established protections for those with preexisting conditions. 

Stephanopoulos jumped in to confront him: ‘Number one, Joe Biden … ran against Medicare for All in the primaries,’ Stephanopoulos said.

‘But much more importantly, Obamacare guaranteed people with preexisting conditions could buy insurance, guaranteed they could buy it at the same price as everyone else, guaranteed a package of essential benefits, guaranteed that insurance companies couldn’t put a lifetime limit on those benefits,’ Stephanopoulos said.

He also noted that the Trump administration was in court seeking  to strike down the Obamacare law, which includes the preexisting conditions protections. 

Trump pushed back claiming that he had a plan, after Stephanopoulos reminded him: ‘I interviewed you in June of last year, you said the healthcare plan would come in two weeks.

‘I have it all ready – I have it all ready,’ Trump said.

‘You’ve been trying to strike down preexisting conditions,’ Stephanopoulos said.

‘It doesn’t matter, I have it all ready, and it’s a much better plan for you – and it’s a much better plan,’ Trump responded, in reference to the woman. 

Trump flew back and forth from Washington for the event and enjoyed a Philly cheese steak on the way home aboard Air Force One. Trump posted an image of the meal, reminiscent of his famous taco bowl image from his 2016 campaign. 

The meal came from Philadelphia shop D’Allesandro’s, a source told DailyMail.com Tuesday.  

Black voter tells Donald Trump his Make America Great Again slogan is ‘TONE DEAF’ and tells him ‘you haven’t acknowledged there’s a race problem in this country’ – with president replying: ‘There’s none with me’

A Philadelphia-based black pastor confronted President Donald Trump at Tuesday night’s ABC News town hall telling him that the ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan is ‘tone deaf.’

‘When has America been great for African Americans in the ghetto of America? Are you aware of how tone deaf that comes off the African American community?’ Pastor Carl Day told Trump. 

He also pointed out that Trump hadn’t acknowledged America’s race problem, to which the president replied, ‘Well I hope there’s not a race problem.’ 

‘I can tell you, there’s none with me,’ Trump said. 

The town hall, pre-taped in Philadelphia and then broadcast several hours later, had undecided voters pose questions to Trump, with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos there to moderate the Q&A.  

President Donald Trump (left) was told by Philadelphia-based pastor Carl Day (right) that 'Make America Great Again' was 'tone deaf' toward black Americans

President Donald Trump (left) was told by Philadelphia-based pastor Carl Day (right) that ‘Make America Great Again’ was ‘tone deaf’ toward black Americans 

President Trump (left) took questions from audience members in Philadelphia and the discussion was moderated by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos (right)

President Trump (left) took questions from audience members in Philadelphia and the discussion was moderated by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos (right) 

The studio set-up for Trump's town hall with undecided Pennsylvania voters moderated by George Stephanopoulos

The studio set-up for Trump’s town hall with undecided Pennsylvania voters moderated by George Stephanopoulos 

Day was identified as an undecided voter who voted for third party hopeful Jill Stein in 2016. After his interaction with Trump he went on CNN and said, ‘I’m definitely not voting Trump, I will say that.’

Day wanted to hear Democrat Joe Biden’s plans for black America before casting a vote that way.  

When Day first called MAGA ‘tone deaf,’ Trump pointed to public opinion polls – which generally show him underwater with black voters compared to Democrat Joe Biden.

‘Well, I can say this, we have tremendous African-American support,’ Trump said. ‘You’ve probably seen it in the polls. We’ve done extremely well with African-American, Hispanic-American at levels that you’ve rarely seen a Republican have.’ 

Recent polls in Florida show Biden in a slightly weaker position than Hillary Clinton did in 2016 among Latino voters.   

‘You look just prior to this horrible situation coming in from China, when the virus came in, that was the – probably the highest point, home ownership for the black community, home ownership, lower crime, the best jobs they’ve ever had, highest income, the best employment numbers they’ve ever had,’ Trump continued.  

Trump boasted that if Day went back six or seven months ‘that was the best single moment in the history of the African-American people in this country, I think – I would say.’ 

Day again questioned why Trump would use Make America Great ‘Again,’ and then described the conditions of the ‘ghettos,’ with drugs and guns, which black Americans have historically been red-lined into.      

‘And we have not been seeing a change, quite frankly under your administration,’ Day said. ‘Under the Obama administration, under the Bush, under the Clinton, the very same thing happening.’ 

Day then pointed out that while Trump had talked about police officers ‘choking’ – often his explanation for why unarmed black Americans are being shot at a disproportionate rate – ‘you have yet to address and acknowledge that there’s been a race problem in America.’ 

Trump said he hoped there wasn’t a race problem ‘because I have great respect for all races, for everybody.’ 

‘This country is great because of it,’ Trump said.   

 

Trump says WAITERS don’t like wearing masks as voter asks him at town hall: ‘Why don’t you wear a mask more often?’

President Donald Trump claimed ‘waiters’ do not like wearing masks as he was pressed on his own lack of mask-wearing – and asked to explain what he meant when he said there are people who don’t like covering up.

He offered the claim after a voter asked him why he did not support a nationwide mask mandate and why he is so seldom seen in one.

At an ABC News town hall in Philadelphia with undecided voters, he was asked by Julie Bart, a former Hillary Clinton voter from Gibsonia: ‘Why don’t you support a mandate for national mask wearing? And why don’t you wear a mask more often?’

Trump replied by first claiming that Joe Biden ‘said we’re going to do a national mandate on masks’ and ‘they never did’ although Biden is not president.

Then he said: ‘A lot of people don’t want to wear masks. There are a lot of people think that masks are not good.’

Question: Donald Trump faced former Hillary Clinton voter Julie Bart who asked why he did not wear a mask more often himself and issue a nationwide mask mandate

Pressed by ordinary voter - then by anchor: When Donald Trump told Julie Bart that people did not like wearing masks, George Stephanopoulos interrupted to ask who, prompting Trump to reply: 'Waiters'

Pressed by ordinary voter – then by anchor: When Donald Trump told Julie Bart that people did not like wearing masks, George Stephanopoulos interrupted to ask who, prompting Trump to reply: ‘Waiters’

He was interrupted by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, who asked: ‘Who are those people?’

Trump replied: ‘I’ll tell you who those people are – waiters. They come over and they serve you, and they have a mask. 

‘And I saw it the other day where they were serving me, and they’re playing with the mask — I’m not blaming them – I’m just saying what happens. They’re playing with the mask, so the mask is over, and they’re touching it, and then they’re touching the plate. That can’t be good.’

It is unclear when Trump met, although he spent the weekend at his Las Vegas hotel. At the White House he is served by the staff of the East Wing and by military aides.

Trump went on to cite Dr. Tony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control’s change in their guidance earlier this year. 

In April public health experts urged mask wearing, having earlier been against, partly because they feared that telling people to cover up would mean hospitals would be unable to provide masks to their own staff. 

Fauci and other experts have since repeatedly urged everyone to wear a mask and said it is critical to beating the virus. They have also attributed falling infection rates to mask wearing.

But Trump said: ‘There are a lot of people, if you look at Dr. Fauci’s original statement, you look at a lot of people, CDC, you look at a lot of people’s original statement, they said very strongly, George, don’t wear masks.

‘Then all of a sudden they went to wear masks. The concept of a mask is good, but it also does, you’re constantly touching it, you’re touching your face, you’re touching plates.’

Questions on masks have grown since Trump resumed holding rallies – including an indoor one this weekend in Henderson, Nevada,  

The masks claims came as he defended his handling of the coronavirus – including from a former supporter who asked him why he threw ‘people like me under the bus.’

‘Yeah, well I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways I up-played it in terms of action,’ Trump said early in the town hall program broadcast on ABC. 

Trump was responding to a direct question from a voter at the event in Philadelphia.  

I hate to say it but I'm what you need,' President Trump told a cheering crowd of a few thousand supporters in Henderson, Nevada, at the weekend, where hardly any were wearing masks

I hate to say it but I’m what you need,’ President Trump told a cheering crowd of a few thousand supporters in Henderson, Nevada, at the weekend, where hardly any were wearing masks

‘If you believe it’s the president’s responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities,’ the voter, a woman from Pittsburgh asked. 

 Trump’s response came days after Bob Woodward’s book ‘Rage’ revealed Trump telling the author in a March 19 that he played down the virus to avoid ‘panic.’

‘I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic,’ the president told Woodward, in an interview captured on tape.      

Churchill was ‘not so honest’ claims president as he tries to fight his corner on ‘downplaying’ virus 

Donald Trump claimed Tuesday that Winston Churchill was ‘not so honest’ in what he told the people of Britain about Nazi bombings during World War II.

The president seized on the British prime minister’s leadership again as he tried to defend his private admission that he ‘downplayed’ the coronavirus crisis, claiming he did not want to cause ‘panic.’

Trump, at an ABC News town hall with undecided voters in Philadelphia, claimed Churchill told the people of London ‘everyone’s going to be safe,’ adding: ‘I don’t think that’s being necessarily honest, and yet I think it’s being a great leader.’

In fact Churchill, as soon as he became prime minister, warned the British people of ‘struggle and suffering’ and went on to warn the nation there was a ‘cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombing of London’ and said Hitler’s campaign was ‘killing large numbers of women and children.’

‘When Churchill was on the top of a building, and he said everything’s going to be good, everything’s going to be – be calm, and you have the Nazis dropping bombs all over London, he was very brave because he was at the top of a building,’ Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

Churchill was not honest: Donald Trump launched a new defense of his handling of coronavirus by saying that he did not want panic - and claimed, wrongly, that the wartime British leader misled people during the Nazi bombardment of London

Churchill was not honest: Donald Trump launched a new defense of his handling of coronavirus by saying that he did not want panic – and claimed, wrongly, that the wartime British leader misled people during the Nazi bombardment of London

'Blitz.' The bombing of London by Hitler's forces in 1940 tested the leadership of Winston Churchill. Swathes of the city were destroyed, and St Paul's Cathedral, its most famous building was surrounded by fire on December 29. The picture by Daily Mail photographer Herbert Mason was taken from the roof of the newspaper's offices and became one of the enduring images of what London faced - and which Churchill said: 'We can take it!'

‘Blitz.’ The bombing of London by Hitler’s forces in 1940 tested the leadership of Winston Churchill. Swathes of the city were destroyed, and St Paul’s Cathedral, its most famous building was surrounded by fire on December 29. The picture by Daily Mail photographer Herbert Mason was taken from the roof of the newspaper’s offices and became one of the enduring images of what London faced – and which Churchill said: ‘We can take it!’

Trump has long sought to compare himself to Winston Churchill, the prime minister who led the United Kingdom during World War II

Trump has long sought to compare himself to Winston Churchill, the prime minister who led the United Kingdom during World War II

HE DIDN’T SAY KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON –  HE DID TELL THE TRUTH: CHURCHILL’S WAR 

Winston Churchill did take to the rooftops of London during World War II to watch bombing raids but he never gave a speech from there. The famous Keep Calm and Carry On poster was not what he preached – in fact it dated from before the war, was never distributed and rediscovered in 2000.

Churchill’s message was not to keep calm – it was to brace for the worst and to sacrifice to fight back.

‘We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering,’ he warned the British people in May 1940, when the country stood alone as France crumbled. 

The next month, after the British army retreated from Dunkirk, France, in an improvised evacuation on civilian boats, he warned Nazi invasion was a real danger, summoning a fighting spirit with the words: ‘We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.’

Hitler began pounding Britain from the air in September in raids known as the Blitz, with London the worst hit but almost every British city suffering too. Churchill toured bomb sites with his trademark cigar, rather than hiding from the damage. He flashed his V for victory sign to keep up morale but he did not sugarcoat what was happening.  On September 11 he told the nation there was a ‘cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombing of London’ and warning Hitler’s campaign was ‘killing large numbers of women and children.’ 

Historians say there had been signs of cracked nerves among the public but Churchill would not relent: ‘We can take it!’ 

Morale-raising messages did not shy away from the truth: ‘All the world that is still free marvels at the composure and fortitude with which the citizens of London are facing and surmounting the great ordeal to which they are subjected, the end of which or the severity of which cannot yet be foreseen.’

London took it; so did the country and by December Roosevelt was also leading a nation at war, with the UK no longer standing alone. 

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‘It was very well known that he was standing on buildings, and they were bombing. And he says everyone’s going to be safe.’ 

Trump appeared to be suggesting that Churchill broadcast from London’s rooftops during the bombing, known as the Blitz, which he did not.

Churchill did watch bombings from rooftops close to his underground bunker, but he did not broadcast from them. The fact was not in common circulation at the time and it appears unlikely to have been known by the Nazis at the time.

‘I don’t think that’s being necessarily honest, and yet I think it’s being a great leader. 

‘But he said, you’re going to be safe. Be calm, don’t panic. And you had bombers dropping bombs all over London.

‘So I guess you could say that’s not so honest, but it’s still a great leader,’ Trump said.

It was the second time in less than a week that Trump had compared his downplaying of the coronavirus to the actions of the great leaders of World War II, although this time he did not mention Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  

Trump has argued he was trying not to cause panic, which he repeated at the town hall.

After he compared himself to Churchill, Stephanopoulos said: ‘So do you think it’s OK to be dishonest?’

Trump replied: ‘I’m not looking to be dishonest. I don’t want people to panic. And we are going to be OK.’

Trump had first made the comparison to Churchill – and to Franklin Delano Roosevelt –  last week on the day of the revelation from Woodward’s book that Trump knew coronavirus was ‘lethal’ and told the Watergate reporter he ‘liked to play it down.’ 

His first outing for the defense was at a rally.

‘As the British government advised the British people in the face of World War II, ‘Keep calm and carry on.’ That’s what I did,’ Trump told the crowd in Freeland, Michigan, airport – a claim which was itself untrue; the phrase was never deployed by Churchill and only a handful of posters with the logo were displayed in wartime.

‘When Hitler was bombing London, Churchill, great leader, would oftentimes go to a roof in London and speak. 

‘And he always spoke with calmness. He said, ‘We have to show calmness.’ No we did it the right way,’ he said. 

The president also repeated his argument that the United States has done the ‘best job, certainly of any major country’ on the pandemic. And invoked Roosevelt in his argument.

‘America will prevail over the China virus. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ That’s it. We’re doing well,’ the president said.

Last week historian Jon Meacham, in response to Trump’s remarks, pointed to this Churchill quote, tweeting it out: ‘The British people can face any misfortune w/ fortitude & buoyancy as long as they are convinced that those in charge of their affairs are not deceiving them, or are not dwelling in a fool’s paradise.’ 

And FDR’s quote about ‘nothing to fear’ came from his inaugural address, when he went on to list the country’s woes: mass unemployment, those in jobs struggling to survive, a banking crisis and a government with no money.

President Trump also quoted FDR's famous line: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself

President Trump also quoted FDR’s famous line: the only thing we have to fear is fear itself

‘Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment,’ he said, setting the tone for the fireside chats which went on to define his presidency.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS… 

WHAT WINSTON CHURCHILL TOLD THE BRITISH PEOPLE

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalog of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.’ 

May 13, 1940 

WHAT TRUMP TOLD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE 

‘It’s going to be fine’

February 10

‘We have very few people with it. They’re all getting better.’

February 25 

‘It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.’

February 28 

‘We’ve stopped it.’ 

March 12

‘It will go away, and we’re going to have a great victory’

March 30 

‘Coronavirus numbers are looking MUCH better, going down almost everywhere. Big progress being made!’

May 11 2020

AND WHAT HE TOLD BOB WOODWARD

‘It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu. This is deadly stuff.’

February 7 

 I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic

March 19 

‘Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob. But just today, and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older. Young people, too, plenty of young people.’

March 19 

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In contrast Trump has defended himself for ‘downplaying’ the virus, not denying what he told Woodward but instead arguing he was trying not to cause a panic. 

‘The fact is, there has to be a calmness. You don’t want me jumping up and down screaming there’s going to be great death. Really causing serious problems for the country,’ he said at a White House press conference on Thursday before his rally.

Trump also denied he lied to the American people when asked about discrepancies in his conversations with Woodward and what he was saying in public at the time.

‘This is deadly stuff,’ the president told Woodward in February during one of their 18 interviews.

‘You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,’ he said. ‘And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.’

But while Trump admitted privately to the dangers of COVID, just three days later, he struck a far rosier tone in an interview with Fox Business: ‘I think the virus is going to be – it’s going to be fine.’

Trump said his public words were not a lie. 

‘There is no lie here. What we’re doing is leading,’ he said at his press conference.  

But the phrase Trump cited during his rally – ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ – while popular today was never used during World War II.

Trump, a longtime Anglophile whose mother was a British citizen, has long sought to tie his presidency to Churchill’s tenure as prime minister. 

One of his first acts as president was to restore the bust of Churchill to the Oval Office after President Barack Obama replaced it with a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Obama moved the Churchill bust to a place outside the Treaty Room of the White House, a move that sparked outrage from the British across the pond and from many conservatives in America. 

Churchill was given an honorary American citizenship, only one of eight people to receive one. 

Trump brought the Churchill bust back to the Oval, placing it on the table near his desk and moving the King bust to a side table. 

Additionally, White House staff have tied the president to the prime minister at other points in his presidency.

When Trump was criticized, during Black Lives Matter protests in June, for walking across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Episcopal Church to hold up a bible in front of it as a photo-op, the White House said it was something Churchill would do. 

The square was damaged during the protests that sprung up in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and there was a small fire in the church basement ahead of Trump’s visit. The church, which sits across from the White House, is known as the church of presidents. 

President Trump and his family toured the Churchill War Rooms during the June 2019 state visit to London

President Trump and his family toured the Churchill War Rooms during the June 2019 state visit to London

‘Through all of time, we’ve seen presidents and leaders across the world who have had leadership moments and very powerful symbols that were important for our nation to see at any given time to show a message of resilience and determination,’ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at the time.

‘Like Churchill, we saw him inspecting the bombing damage and it sent a powerful message of leadership to the British people,’ she said. 

Additionally, during his June 2019 state visit to London, Trump toured the Churchill War Rooms with his family.

It was in the labyrinthine bunker that Churchill and his war cabinet plotted war strategy that ultimately led to the Allies’ victory. The underground location kept them safe from German bombing raids. 

Donald Trump angrily slams report he called dead troops ‘suckers and losers’ as ‘LIES’ as he is challenged over the military at town hall with voters – but calls Jim Mattis ‘disgruntled’ and attacks John McCain again

President Donald Trump angrily slammed The Atlantic’s report that said he called dead American soldiers ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’ after a voter at ABC News’ Tuesday night town hall asked how he’d win back military support.  

‘It’s easy,’ he declared. ‘Because I never made those statements. They were never made by me.’ 

The president also gave new information about one of the most memorable anecdotes from the piece – which claimed he skipped visiting an American cemetery in France because he didn’t want to get his hair wet. 

‘I wanted to go anyway. I said let me just go separately in a car in disguise, I don’t care. I wanted to be there so badly,’ Trump went on. ‘But the statements never happened. They were lies.’ 

President Donald Trump angrily slammed The Atlantic's report that said he called dead American soldiers 'losers' and 'suckers' and told a town hall audience he didn't need to build back support of military members 'because I never made those statements'

President Donald Trump angrily slammed The Atlantic’s report that said he called dead American soldiers ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’ and told a town hall audience he didn’t need to build back support of military members ‘because I never made those statements’ 

Alexandra Stehman asked Trump about the comments he reportedly made about American war dead and servicemembers, along with things he's said publicly about the late Sen. John McCain

Alexandra Stehman asked Trump about the comments he reportedly made about American war dead and servicemembers, along with things he’s said publicly about the late Sen. John McCain 

The late Sen. John McCain

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

Trump said his feelings about the late Sen. John McCain (left) were well known, while also blasting his former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (right), saying Mattis was among the ‘disgruntled former employees’ who lied about him 

The president tried to suggest it was a Democratic conspiracy. 

‘This magazine came up. They made up this quote. It was a made up quote and you know, the gloves are off with Biden – who I’ve never respected greatly – I’ve never respected him greatly,’ Trump said, inserting the name of his Democratic opponent. 

He asked the woman who posed the question, a Pennsylvania voter named Alexandra Stehman, ‘Do you know what disinformation is?’

‘That’s what it was. They made up a phony quote, and then they went with it. It was a phony deal. And then one who started it was a big friend of President Obama and Clinton,’ Trump continued. ‘And it was a phony deal from a very – not very successful magazine.’   

Trump added that both ’25 people’ and also ’26 people’ vouched for him.  

When moderator George Stephanopoulos pointed out that former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly didn’t come to Trump’s defense after the article was published, Trump referred to them as ‘people that I let go.’ 

‘These are disgruntled former employees,’ Trump said. 

Stehman had also asked Trump about previous statements he’s made about the late Sen. John McCain, which the president admitted to doing. 

‘As far as John McCain, I was never a fan of John McCain. I never thought he treated our vets well, he didn’t do the job,’ Trump said. ‘I was never a fan of his. But – and I think that’s fine and everybody knows that, and I said it to his face.’   

The president then pointed to the peace deals the U.S. brokered as part of his commitment to get the country out of endless wars.  

‘You know, I go to Dover and I greet, oftentimes, soldiers coming in, and they’re dead,’ Trump said. ‘And there’s no sadder thing than to sit with a widow or a mother, and watch these big massive cargo planes, and that back opens up and these incredible Marines are walking off a casket and they were killed in the Middle East.’ 

‘And in many ways nobody even knows why,’ Trump said. 

He called going into the Middle East the country’s ‘worst decision.’ 

‘And, by the way, Iraq did not – you know, Saddam Hussein did not knock down the World Trade Center, in case you don’t know and I’m sure you do know that,’ the president said. 

The president turned his attention back to Mattis before the end of his rant. 

Mattis had been a source for journalist Bob Woodward’s new book that came out this week.

Trump suggested that had Mattis remained at the Pentagon there would be no peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. 

‘A guy like Jim Mattis could have never done it because they were all doing it the old-fashioned way,’ Trump said. ‘They were going in the wrong outlets and the wrong doors.’    

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