White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Sunday that the president never issued such an explicit directive, and told CNN that Trump’s comments were “ironic.”
“It was a comment he made as a joke,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a press conference Monday, adding: “Any suggestion that the evidence has been reduced is not really ingrained.”
Even Pence sought to manage the political consequences, telling governors during a conference call Monday that Trump’s test remarks were simply a “passing observation,” according to a CBS News report.
But in an interview with Scripps Networks on Monday, Trump did not deny asking his administration to reduce coronavirus testing and instead argued that “if we slowed it down, we wouldn’t show as many cases.”
Pressured again Tuesday about the president’s views on coronavirus testing, McEnany refused to acknowledge that Trump’s remarks were taken seriously. “I was making a serious point, but I was using sarcasm to do that,” he told reporters.
More than 120,000 Americans have already died as a result of Covid-19, and the total number of confirmed infections across the country has increased by more than 2.3 million. Although public health experts universally agree that the United States needs more tests for coronavirus, not less, Trump held firm to his reasoning on Tuesday.
“Cases are increasing in the US. USA Because we are testing much more than any other country, and we are expanding. With smaller tests we would show fewer cases! He tweeted, and then described the evidence as a “double-edged sword” for journalists.
“In a sense, it tells you that you have cases,” Trump said. “Otherwise, you find out where the cases are and you do a good job. We are doing a great job. We have never been credited for it. We are doing the best test work anywhere in the world. “
Those comments from the President, as he prepared to leave for Arizona, came about an hour before Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, and other top health officials within the administration were scheduled to testify before Congress on the ongoing pandemic.
At a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fauci told lawmakers that, to his knowledge, no member of the White House coronavirus task force had been asked to reduce testing.
“It is the opposite,” he said. “We are going to do more tests, not less.”
Last week, Trump considered coronavirus testing “overrated” in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, and in March memorably expressed his reluctance to evacuate passengers aboard an abandoned cruise ship off the California coast that had been hit with a Covid-19 outbreak.
“I like that the numbers are where they are. I don’t need the numbers to double because a ship was not our fault, “Trump said at the time, referring to the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US. USA