Mr. Trump now says he was trying to keep people from panicking. And given his preoccupation with marketing, we believe him. We also know the President understood the virus was deadly, even if the risks weren’t fully clear, because he barred arrivals from China on Jan. 31 and Europe on March 11.
His Administration’s Covid-19 record has also been better than he makes it sound—in mobilizing private-public efforts for testing, PPE and vaccines, and preventing a financial meltdown in March. His main failing has been inconstant rhetorical leadership. He has undersold the virus risks and oversold his own achievements when what the public has wanted all along is the candid reality. This is no small failing in a crisis.
But we know all this because it is on the public record. This may be the most transparent Presidency in history, for better or worse. His faults and mistakes are on constant display, whether in his own voice or leaks to a press that wants him gone.