Thousands of Americans continue to die each and every day due to the Coronavirus, but President Donald Trump and his closest political allies are trying to increase the spotlight on reopening the economy anyway, no matter the public health imperative behind the social distancing measures that have been in place. Recently, the Trump team even began floating a plan to phase out the White House’s Coronavirus response task force entirely, but after backlash, Trump tweeted that the task force would continue “indefinitely.” During an appearance on MSNBC this Thursday, Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire explained that, even as grave issues hang in the balance, Trump is orchestrating his Coronavirus response in response to media coverage.
After the initial revelations of plans to wind down the White House’s Coronavirus task force in coming weeks, Trump and his allies faced a lot of criticism before the president’s eventual walkback of the plans. That criticism — rather than some kind of public health concern — helped drive the walkback, Lemire explains.
‘This will come as a great surprise, guys, but the president reacts to media coverage and to outside forces when it comes to decisions. That’s what we saw here. There was no coordinated effort, per se, but the White House had had discussions in the last few weeks about beginning to wind down the task force, as it was going to pivot more toward the economy, moving reopening parts of the nation, and wanting to de-emphasize, publicly, some of the health crisis response.’
Pres Trump said yesterday the WH will phase out its coronavirus task force. He explained by saying, “Well, because we can’t keep our country closed for the next five years.”
Today, a total about-face after backlash.
Trump saying now task force will "continue on indefinitely." https://t.co/hxmXcA3PSz
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) May 6, 2020
And that didn’t sit well with many observers, even including some Congressional Republicans.
As Lemire explained:
‘When the vice president said the other day in a meeting that the task force was going to be starting to wind down by the end of May or early June, and the president himself reiterated that on his trip to Arizona, there was some real blowback from business leaders, congressional Republicans. The president does listen to them from time to time, calling the White House late at night, also the media coverage, it was a major story yesterday on this show and others. We know the president watches, he responds to that. He has decided to bring it back.’
There are still some lasting changes on the horizon when it comes to the White House’s Coronavirus response, the reporter explained. For example, although the White House has kept up at least a semblance of keeping the press informed via having new White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany hold press conferences, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx have spent a considerable deal of time away from the public eye at this point. Each of them are some of the most competent individuals in the administration — Trump certainly doesn’t have any public health experience himself.
Watch this clip while reminding yourself that Trump has gradually ramped up the projected US coronavirus death toll from zero, to 50k, to 60k, to 65k, to 70k, and now to 100k pic.twitter.com/juzcD0zoit
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 6, 2020
Trump has consistently tried to focus on an eventual economic reopening, although the public health crisis has not gone away. Yet, Trump wants to try and wish it out of existence anyway — at an event at the White House this week, he basically told off a nurse who shared a story of her own frontlines struggles to secure adequate personal protective equipment. The president’s behavior was galling.
Trump rebukes a nurse who says "PPE has been sporadic, but it's been manageable."
"Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people," Trump replies. "That was fine, but I have heard we have a tremendous supply to almost all places." pic.twitter.com/zOf2rWxvHx
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 6, 2020