WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump called CBS White House correspondent Paula Reid "fake" and "disgraceful" after she questioned him about the administration's decisions in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reid was pressing Trump on the assertion that the federal government "bought time" when it restricted travel from China, which Trump has repeatedly touted as a decision that saved lives.
On Jan. 31, the administration declared a public health emergency for coronavirus, and announced travel restrictions from China, starting Feb. 2. The president's social distancing recommendations for Americans were rolled out in mid-March.
“The argument is that you bought yourself some time (with the travel restrictions),” Reid said Monday, as she and Trump spoke over one another. “You didn’t use it to prepare hospitals. You didn’t use it to ramp up testing. Right now, nearly 20 million people are unemployed. Tens of thousands of Americans are dead. How is this ... rant supposed to make people feel confident in an unprecedented crisis?”
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“You’re so disgraceful,” Trump responded. “It’s so disgraceful the way you say that.”
Trump then circled back to the travel restrictions from China, but Reid pressed, “But what did you do with the time that you bought? The month of February was a gap.”
Reid continued, pointing to a nearly month-long gap in a campaign ad-style video Trump played at Monday's press briefing, "What did your administration do in February with the time what your travel ban bought you?"
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"A lot. A lot. And in fact, we'll give you a list," he responded.
Reid continued to press, "What?" in regards to what the administration did.
"You know you're a fake, your whole network, the way you cover it is fake," Trump responded.
As the number of cases grew around the country, the White House's messaging around the virus shifted, from Trump saying at one point they had already "shut it down" in regard to the spread of coronavirus to now near-daily press briefings addressing issues surrounding the pandemic, such as access to testing and the availability of critical medical supplies.
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The video played at the White House press conference omitted key moments of Trump's rhetoric surrounding the coronavirus, including a comment on Feb. 28 when he claimed it would go away on its own “like a miracle.”
The video on Monday seemed to be sparked by a New York Times report published over the weekend with the headline: “He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus” that details earlwarnings to Trump about a possible pandemic.