Trump “had tried to joke about the virus for months, sometimes even mocking people who had become ill,” according to passages from The Washington Post’s Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta’s “Nightmare Scenario” that were obtained and published by Axios on Wednesday.
Months before being hospitalized with COVID-19 himself, Trump reportedly “waved his hands in front of his face, as if to jokingly ward off any flying virus particles” after then-National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow had stifled a cough in a meeting.
Trump then reportedly cracked a smile, said he was “just kidding” because Kudlow would “never get COVID” and would “defeat it with his optimism.”
“John Bolton,” Trump reportedly continued. “Hopefully COVID takes out John.”
Trump was being serious with his comment, according to Abutaleb and Paletta’s sources for the book.
Bolton served in the Trump administration for 17 months. Relations soured with the publication of Bolton’s memoir, in which he alleged misdeeds from the ex-president. The Department of Justice sought to block the release of the book.
When asked by Axios about Trump’s reported quip, Bolton replied: “Fooled me — I thought he was relying on his lawyers.”
Bolton is now one of the former president’s staunchest critics.
However, he has faced ongoing backlash himself — for not speaking out against Trump during his time in the White House, and for not cooperating with House Democrats over Trump’s first impeachment, over the Ukraine scandal.
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