On Saturday, Donald Trump once again defended his administration’s actions in the beginning days of the coronavirus epidemic. He claimed that he was way ahead of the curve in calling for a travel ban from China. He then stated that China has taken a “secretive” approach as soon as the coronavirus emerged.
“I get a lot of credit for having closed our country very early to a very heavily infected country, China,” Trump claimed during a White House press briefing. “Unfortunately, China, I wish China would have told us more about what was going on in China long prior to us reading about it.”
During the briefing, Trump was asked about a Washington Post report that came out on Friday that stated that Trump not only downplayed the virus but failed to act on early warnings that he received in early January.
“Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” one official anonymously told The Post. “The system was blinking red.”
Trump called The Post’s report a “disgrace” and “very inaccurate.”
“It’s so insulting when they write phony stories that they know are fake news because they’re not insulting me. They’re insulting everybody, these incredible people that have worked so hard, so long that are thinking about nothing other than this invisible enemy,” Trump said.
Trump then pointed to the action he took in the early days of the crisis. He singled out his decision at the beginning of February to place a travel ban on all foreign nationals from China. Trump would later put restrictions on travel from Iran and Europe as well. This week non-essential travel was restricted with Canada and Mexico.
“And I was pretty much in a very small group of people, I will tell you, it was a tiny little group. Most people even that worked in the White House disagreed with me very strongly,” Trump claimed. “Saving of those many weeks was a tremendous, tremendous thing. And when they keep talking about acting early, that was the ultimate act.”
“And then I also closed Europe early, very early,” he went on to say. “And I took a lot of heat for that, too. But that was a good thing. Now they’re doing similar things that way. So I didn’t act late. I acted early. I acted far before anybody thought I should be.”
Trump then focused on what he called China’s secretive approach to the beginnings of the virus after it emerged in Wuhan. Trump has used racist rhetoric when referring to the virus repeatedly calling it the “Chinese virus” and adding that “the world is paying a big price for what they [China] did.”
On Saturday he added that “China was very secretive. OK, very, very secretive. And that’s unfortunate with that. I have great respect for that country. I have great respect for the leader of that country,” he said. “He’s a friend of mine. But I wish they were able to. I wish they would have told us earlier.”