US President Donald Trump proclaimed “everything we did was right” and vigorously criticized media claims that his administration had struggled to properly scale up coronavirus monitoring or produce medical supplies at a testy press conference at the White House on Monday.
Trump, who said he was annoyed by the reports challenging his administration’s response to the crisis that left more than 20,000 Americans dead and millions unemployed, played a video in campaign-style defending his record and highlighting instances where media and medical experts downplayed the coronavirus threat.
The president went on to complain that governors hadn’t done enough to prepare their states for the pandemic, and called on former vice president Joe Biden and other democrats to apologize to him for initial criticism of his decision to ban any travel between the U.S. and China.
The combative performance in the briefing room at the White House caused at least two American news networks – CNN and MSNBC – to break off from the remarks of the President.
Asked about his decision of devoting the start of his briefing to the defensive display, the president said it was justified “because we’re getting fake news and I want to correct it.”
Trump said the video was created by employees of the White House, including social media director Dan Scavino. The project “took less than two hours,” he said.
“Everything we did was right,” Trump added, labelling the federal response “a great military and beyond operation.”
In a subsequent conversation with a CBS White House correspondent, Trump aggressively ignored concerns about what behavior his administration took between implementing a travel ban in China in January and proposing strict social distancing in March.
“It’s so disgraceful the way you say that,” Trump said, calling the reporter “a fake.”
Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, also saw the opening of the president’s press conference trying to clean up remarks he made in a CNN interview on Sunday, in which he said more lives would have been saved if preventive measures had been taken earlier and “a lot of pushback” had been received early during the outbreak.
Fauci said he had mischaracterized ordinary discussion about social-distancing policies within the administration on Sunday, and credited Trump with following his advice to introduce a prevention plan and extend it to the end of April. He also said that Trump had not asked him to explain his comments, adding, “Everything that I do is voluntary.”
“The president listened to the recommendation and went to the mitigation,” Fauci said.
Trump said he knew he had retweeted someone calling for Fauci’s resignation, but denied that the promotion of the post should be seen as an endorsement.
“That’s somebody’s opinion. All that is is an opinion,” Trump said.