BROWNSVILLE, Texas – U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela says that with is on-the-record, taped conversations with journalist Bob Woodward, President Trump has admitted to mass murder.

In interviews for Woodward’s new book, Rage, the president said he knew the novel coronavirus was deadly but did not want to tell the general public for fear of causing panic. 

In January, Trump told the famed Washington Post reporter that the coronavirus was far worse than the regular flu. However, in the days and weeks afterwards he downplayed its danger in his speeches to the nation.

 Bob Woodward

Vela, a Democrat from Brownsville, said: “The President of the United States of America has admitted to mass murder. In his own words, Donald Trump has unveiled the alarming truth that he was fully aware of the deadly nature of the coronavirus but chose to hide the facts and refused to take the threat seriously for purely political reasons.”

By ignoring the advice and warnings of countless medical doctors and scientists, Vela said, “Trump left our entire country exposed and unprepared. The blood of thousands of Americans are on his hands.”

Vela said this amounted to betrayal.

“Because of his betrayal to our nation, more than six million Americans have been infected, 190,000 have died and tens of millions are jobless and at risk of hunger and homelessness,” Vela said.

“All of this pain could have been avoided, but President Trump chose politics over lives. The growing horrifying toll of Trump’s deadly disinformation and negligence deepens the pain for grieving families and those suffering most from our failing economy.”

Vela added: “Donald Trump has failed the American people and the nearly 200,000 Americans that lost their lives to this deadly virus.” 

At a press briefing at the White House on Wednesday, Trump acknowledged he had kept the seriousness of COVID-19 away from Americans. He denied that he had mislead the public.

“We don’t want to instill panic. We don’t want to jump up and down and start shouting that we have a problem, that is a tremendous problem and scare everybody,” Trump said.

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela

By not saying anything, the United States was able to buying masks and gowns at the best price, the president said. If he had told the public COVID-19 was deadly, the price of such items would have gone up, he said.

Trump’s conversations with Woodward were revealed in a Washington Post story posted Wednesday titled, “Woodward book: Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ and worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans.”

Reporters Robert Costa and Philip Rucker said Trump had been briefed on the deadly nature of COVID-19 in January by national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien and Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser.

Pottinger is reported to have told Trump that, with the outbreak of the coronavirus, the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

“Ten days later, Trump called Woodward and revealed that he thought the situation was far more dire than what he had been saying publicly.

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.

Publicly, Trump was saying the coronavirus was no worse than the seasonal flu and that it would soon disappear. He insisted the administration had the virus totally under control.

Trump admitted to Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, A Democrat from McAllen, issued this statement:

“How can we trust the president to lead us out of this crisis when he knowingly downplayed the gravity of COVID-19 to boost his own re-election bid? The economy has taken a massive hit, people are struggling, and almost 200,000 Americans are dead as a result. The United States desperately needs a commander-in-chief that is ready, willing, and able to unite this country and steer us back on course.”

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the Costa/Rucker story in The Washington Post and listen to some of President Trump’s remarks to Woodward.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows President Trump speaking to reporters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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