Donald Trump claims he ‘played UP’ the coronavirus after bombshell admission he ‘played it down’

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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.  

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

“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.  

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

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’

‘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. 

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