President Donald Trump on Wednesday doubled down on his claim he has ‘always’ treated the coronavirus seriously and then pivoted to complaining about last month’s impeachment inquiry, demanding to know ‘where’s the whistleblower.’
The president spent the morning tweeting on a variety of subjects, including his response to the coronavirus epidemic, opined on the Democratic presidential primary and complained about impeachment.
His defensive posture comes as his administration asked Congress to allocate $500 billion for two direct payments to Americans – one in April; one in May – to counter the economic affects of the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump doubled down on his claim he has ‘always’ treated the coronavirus seriously
The White House is also requesting $300 billion to help small businesses and $50 billion for the airline industry, according to Treasury Department documents being circulated.
The details were released after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned lawmakers on Tuesday that the unemployment rate in American could drop to 20 per cent.
Mnuchin met with Republican senators at the Capitol Tuesday afternoon where he posed risks the economy could face if a coronavirus stimulus package is not passed quickly, Bloomberg News reported.
But Mnuchin’s office pushed back on the report.
‘During the meeting with Senate Republicans today, Secretary Mnuchin used several mathematical examples for illustrative purposes, but he never implied this would be the case,’ Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley said in a statement.
The administration is also facing questions about whether the United States has enough hospital beds and supplies to treat those infected with the coronavirus.
A 100-page government document, issued Friday and reported on by The New York Times, warned the pandemic will last 18 months or more, could come in several waves and cause critical shortages of medicines, equipment, and staff.
‘Shortages of products may occur, impacting health care, emergency services, and other elements of critical infrastructure,’ the plan warned. ‘This includes potentially critical shortages of diagnostics, medical supplies (including PPE and pharmaceuticals), and staffing in some locations.’ P.P.E. refers to personal protective equipment.
In his Wednesday morning tweet flurry, President Trump touted his approval rating, which he claims is 53 per cent but it was 44 per cent in the latest Gallup poll and sits at 44 per cent in the RealClearPolitics average.
Trump argued his rating is ‘not bad considering I get nothing but Fake & Corrupt News, day and night. ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’, then ‘the Ukraine Scam (where’s the Whistleblower?)’, the ‘Impeachment Hoax’, and more, more, more.’
The president regularly complains that news reports he doesn’t like are ‘fake news.’
During the impeachment inquiry, Trump demanded that the whistleblower, who revealed the details of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which then sparked the impeachment process, testify in the inquiry. Trump was impeached on two articles in the House but cleared in the Senate trial.
It’s not the first time Trump has tweeted about politics as the United States battles the pandemic.
He’s been critical of governors who have criticized his administration’s response to the virus and he has blamed the Obama administration for the lack of testing kits.
Health care workers tend to patients at the drive-in center at ProHealth Care in Jericho, New York as a report warns there may not be enough supplies to treat the disease
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned lawmakers unemployment could hit 20 per cent, Bloomberg News reported, amid economic fears about the coronavirus
He said Tuesday he has the right to defend himself and would continue to do so when he saw something on the news he didn’t agree with.
‘I only do that when I have to respond,’ he said of his politically-themed tweets.
‘I will continue to do that if they’re not going to play fair. Because, you know, they have the media on their side; I don’t. I just have me,’ he said about Democrats.
‘I want it to be bipartisan and nobody’s going to be better than me,’ the president said during a briefing in the White House press room. ‘But when they attack me or these incredible people behind me – I’m not going to let them get away with that. I can’t do that.’
The president on Wednesday also pushed back at reports his response to the pandemic has taken on a more serious tone in recent days, again calling it the ‘China virus,’ a term some find racially insensitive.
‘I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the ‘borders’ from China – against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!,’ Trump wrote.
President. Trump has been criticized for minimizing the disease in its early days but told reporters on Tuesday he’s ‘always’ taken it seriously.
‘I’ve always known this is a real – this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic,’ he said during a press briefing on the virus.
Last month, on Feb. 26, the president down played the effects of the virus.
‘We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck,’ he said.