Editorial: Trump lied and Americans died

President  Trump speaks during an event on judicial appointments Sept. 9 in the  White House
President Trump speaks during an event on judicial appointments Sept. 9 in the White House.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

So now we have irrefutable proof that President Trump lied to the American people virtually from the start about the threat of the coronavirus.

Sadly, this is no great surprise. Trump lies so much, and with such astonishing abandon, that it’s safe to doubt the veracity of anything that comes out of his mouth.

Even so, it’s profoundly disturbing to hear him cavalierly admitting that he knew he wasn’t telling the truth when he was assuring the public early in the pandemic that the coronavirus was no big deal. In an excerpt from recorded interviews with journalist Bob Woodward that were released this week in advance of Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” Trump said on Feb. 7 that he knew the virus was deadly, airborne and much worse than the flu, but he decided not to share that information with the public.


“I wanted to always play it down,” the president said in another interview on March 19. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

In his twisted, narcissistic mind, Trump no doubt believes this admission casts him in a positive light. Here’s the concerned national patriarch risking his own credibility to keep Americans from freaking out and doing who knows what. Maybe making a run on the grocery stores, canceling vacations and pulling kids out of school? Well, good thing that didn’t happen. Oh, wait — it did.

We suspect even his excuse for lying to the American people is less than truthful, and that it was the stock market he was really trying to keep calm. It’s been well-documented that in the early months of the pandemic, the president was frantic about how the disease would affect the economy. He raged about how the news media and the Democrats were exaggerating the dangers to scare the markets and make him look bad.

If Trump was motivated purely by a desire to protect people, as he claims, he would have followed his deception with fast action. After his sieve-like China travel ban (it’s not a real ban if tens of thousands of travelers from China continued to enter the U.S.), he would have ordered a mobilization of mass COVID-19 testing and tracing programs. He would have supported the sensible recommendations of his own health experts, rather than repeatedly trying to muzzle and sideline them while pushing unproven miracle cures. He would have donned a face mask the minute researchers made it clear that wearing one would protect people from infection. And he most certainly wouldn’t have urged states to lift lockdown orders prematurely.

Trump’s main job as president is to protect the U.S. from serious threats, be it foreign interference, civil unrest, economic calamity or infectious disease. He has failed on all counts, and people have died as a consequence. That’s no lie.