Historian predicts Trump downplaying pandemic will go down as 'the greatest dereliction of duty' in presidential history

Allan Lichtman, the historian known for accurately predicting presidential elections, said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE’s downplaying of the coronavirus pandemic will be remembered as “the greatest dereliction of duty” in presidential history. 

“This is the greatest dereliction of duty in the history of the U.S. presidency,” Lichtman, a professor of history at American University, told CTV News Channel on Thursday.

Lichtman was responding to claims made in veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book “Rage.” 

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Woodward’s book, which is set to publish on Sept. 15, builds upon 17 interviews with the president, including one in which Trump said COVID-19 was "deadly" in early February, and later told the author he intentionally minimized its seriousness in public to avoid causing panic.

"I wanted to always play it down," Trump reportedly told Woodward in a subsequent interview in March. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic.”

Lichtman said he doesn’t believe Trump didn’t want to cause panic.

“What is Trump’s whole campaign based on? Causing panic,” Lichtman said. “‘Elect Joe BidenJoe BidenMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Trump expects to nominate woman to replace Ginsburg next week Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral MORE and your streets are going to burn. The criminals will be attacking your houses. The suburbs will be abolished.’ This is a guy who’s worried about causing panic? Come on. How could you possibly believe that?”