Trump has ‘forfeited’ any coronavirus trust with his compulsion to ‘shade the truth’: Ex-Defense Secretary
President Donald Trump, flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (R), US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, holds a news conference on the COVID-19 outbreak. (AFP / Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

On CNN Monday, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta had few kind words for how President Donald Trump has handled the coronavirus disaster.


"Every public health expert I speak with says that in a crisis situation, the number one ingredient for public health is public trust," said anchor John Berman. "So I guess the question is, what happens when a leader forfeits some element of public trust?"

"Well, you know, the problem is this president has had a hard time with the truth since he entered the presidency and before that," said Panetta. "The American people want to be able to trust what the president is saying to them. But in many ways, he's forfeited that trust by the fact that he continues to shade the truth. The most important thing in these crises is to present the truth to the American people, and this president so often would rather shade the truth so that everything looks fine, when, in fact, this is a crisis that we're all a part of."

"All Americans are a part of this effort to deal with this crisis," repeated Panetta emphatically. "And he should be comfortable, not uncomfortable, with telling the American people the truth about what's happening."

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