President Donald Trump “did not give a damn” about Americans’ health and safety or their national security when he downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus because he was more interested in protecting himself and the China trade deal, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice claimed Thursday. 

“I think back in January he was trying to protect his empty trade deal with China and his, you know, loving relationship with Xi Jinping whom he praised repeatedly through much of the end of March,” Rice, who served under President Barack Obama told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “What he was really trying to do was protect himself.” 

Her claims came in response to Trump’s taped comments to journalist Bob Woodward for his new book, during which the president said he knew early that the virus was worse than the flu and that he downplayed it so Americans wouldn’t be panicked. 

Wednesday, he slammed Woodward’s new book about his presidency as “just another political hit job.” 

Rice, though, said the recordings show that all Trump wants is to be reelected at “all costs” and to “make whatever money he can in the process through whatever means necessary.”

She called that “extraordinary,” because never in the country’s history has it had a “president who really just doesn’t care and who is willing to do extraordinary damage to this country that we all love and depend on for his own personal, political benefit.”

The former NSA also said that in her opinion, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien should step down after Trump disclosed what he had told him about the coronavirus. 

“The job of the national security adviser is to tell the hard truths, and if the president is not prepared to act on the basis of dramatic threats to our national security, which the coronavirus is and to simply lie about it, to downplay it and to ignore it for his own personal benefit, then in my judgment, any national security adviser would his or herself resign and be clear about why they’re resigning.”

Rice also called Trump’s revelations about a secret nuclear weapon that had never been disclosed before “the height of dereliction of duty,” and said it came as no surprise when Trump downplayed Woodward’s questions on white privilege, as it’s “not news” that he is a “racist.”

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