Despite recordings in which he admitted downplaying the seriousness of Covid-19 early on, the president defended his response to the crisis.
President Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday to have “up-played” the threat of coronavirus early in the pandemic, contradicting his own remarks to the journalist Bob Woodward that he wanted to minimize the disease to avoid panic.
Speaking at an ABC News town hall moderated by George Stephanopoulos, Trump rebutted a student who asked why he had downplayed “a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities.” Trump defended his response to the health crisis by citing an early travel ban on foreign nationals from China from entering the U.S. in order to curb the spread of the virus.
“Well, I didn’t downplay it,” the president responded. “I actually, in many ways, I up-played in terms of action. My action was very strong.”
The student interjected: “Did you not admit to it yourself?”
“With China, I put a ban on. With Europe, I put a ban on. We would have lost thousands of more people had I not put the ban on,” Trump said. “We did a very, very good job when we put that ban on — whether you call it talent or luck, it was very important.”
Trump’s pivot to his early travel ban from China and parts of Europe has become his default defense when faced with criticism of his coronavirus response. When pressed by Stephanopoulos on whether he regretted any part of his handling of the pandemic, Trump said: “No. I think we did a great job.“
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