President Donald Trump said he didn’t lie when asked about his statements on tape about downplaying the coronavirus.
Trump said Thursday during a news conference at the White House that the way the question — in which a reporter asked why he lied to the American people — was asked was disgraceful.
Above video: President Trump gives opening remarks on coronavirus response
The president said he wanted to show strength as a leader and a level of confidence.
Trump also suggested that his travel restrictions on China outwardly showed the seriousness of the problem.
"I don't want to jump up and down and start screaming 'Death, death,'" Trump said, adding that doing so would have caused panic.
Though he restricted travel from China in January, Trump did not begin to devote extensive federal resources to procuring vital personal protective equipment, including face masks, or expand the production of ventilators until March. In fact, U.S. officials recommended against widespread mask wearing until April in part because of a shortage of protective masks required by front-line medical workers.
Trump aides and allies said at the time that he was aiming to prop up the economy with his rosy take on the virus throughout February, even as his administration took few concrete steps to prepare for the coming pandemic.
The president said Woodward also agreed at the time of the taping that he didn’t think the coronavirus was “bad.”
Trump, according to the book, acknowledged being alarmed by the virus, even as he was telling the nation that it would swiftly disappear.
Trump told Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said.
The response comes after a campaign ad from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has suggested otherwise and audio with the president came forward from journalist Bob Woodward.
Biden said Wednesday the book shows Trump “lied to the American people. He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.”
“While a deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job — on purpose. It was a life or death betrayal of the American people," Biden said at a campaign event in Michigan.
Biden's campaign pounced, releasing an ad late Wednesday featuring the audiotapes of Trump's remarks.