“If I just take the words of the CDC and the president, the president is right,” Kevin McCarthy said.
President Donald Trump’s congressional allies and White House aides backed his rebuke of CDC Director Robert Redfield on Thursday, insisting they trusted the president over the nation’s top public health official on matters of face masks and vaccine development.
“If I just take the words of the CDC and the president, the president is right,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said at a news conference, pledging that the U.S. would “have a safe and effective vaccine this year.”
“If I were a betting man, I’d bet on President Trump,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows added in an interview on Fox News — saying his conclusion was “based on what I know behind the scenes [and] how quickly we are moving on the clinical trials.”
The shows of support for Trump came after the president contradicted Redfield’s testimony before a Senate committee on Wednesday, when the virologist told lawmakers that mask-wearing could be more effective than an eventual vaccine in containing the spread of the coronavirus.
Redfield also predicted that while a vaccine could become available between November and December, it would likely not be “generally available to the American public” until the late second quarter or third quarter of next year.
At a White House news briefing hours later, Trump took issue with both statements by Redfield, contending his CDC chief had “made a mistake” and that the “mask is not as important as the vaccine.”
Trump similarly dismissed Redfield’s vaccination timeline as “just incorrect information” and claimed there would be a “much faster distribution process” for the forthcoming vaccine — even telling reporters that his administration plans to distribute as many as 100 million doses by the end of the year.
Asked Thursday whether Trump’s or Redfield’s remarks were accurate, the president’s most senior aide sided with his boss.
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