‘I want to project strength’: Trump admits downplaying coronavirus and defends his lying by calling it ‘leadership’
Donald Trump (Olivier Douliery:AFP)

Calling his recorded interview with Bob Woodward on the coronavirus a "political hit job," President Donald Trump says his stance on the pandemic – lying to the American public since the start – is "leadership."

In a Wednesday afternoon press conference he admitted to downplaying the coronavirus, while on tape as far back as February he can be heard discussing just how deadly the coronavirus is.

Veteran reporter Bob Woodward recorded his conversations with the president, 18 interviews in all.

"We had to show calm," Trump told reporters telling him if he had been truthful American lives would have been saved.

"I gave him some quotes," Trump added talking about the book, seemingly unaware his remarks are on tape.

"You didn't really think it was going to be to the point where it was," Trump continued, echoing his not infrequent remarks that "no one could have known" how bad it would have gotten – except he was repeatedly briefed, some say since late November.

"We have to show leadership, and leadership is all about confidence. Confidence is all about confidence in our country."

“I’m a cheerleader for this country. We want to show confidence. We don’t want to instill panic,” Trump added.