President Donald Trump lashed out at a reporter Wednesday when pressed on whether his hope to have the country “opened up” by Easter amid the coronavirus pandemic has more to do with politics than public health.
“The media would like to see me do poorly in the election,” Trump said after being asked at a White House briefing to explain the basis for his plan to loosen coronavirus-related restrictions by Easter.
Trump kept the criticism up when pressed further over the fact that experts have said following that timeline isn't prudent.
“Just so you understand, are you ready? I think there are certain people that would like it not to open so quickly. I think there are certain people that would like it to do financially poorly because they think that would be very good as far as defeating me at the polls,” Trump said.
He went on to claim there are people in the media who want a prolonged shutdown to happen as he pointed to two different reporters he accused of writing “fake news.”
Before the heated exchange, much of the Wednesday briefing by the Coronavirus Task Force was focused on touting congressional efforts to pass large-scale legislation to help aid the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But the president’s response to his Easter timeline being questioned stemmed from a presidential tweet he’d sent out earlier in the day.
True to form, the president took to social media to complain, with no evidence, that reporters were the “dominant force” in the country trying to keep the country “closed as long as possible” so that it would hurt his re-election chances in November.
Trump has been showcasing a much more optimistic message of the United States returning to life as normal in a matter of weeks even though the pandemic continues to trouble states and health care officials nationwide. On Tuesday, he boasted that he would “love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”
On what would happen when the 15-day period ends as he presses the Easter timeline, Trump promised to speak to key task force officials like Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"I'm not going to do anything rash or hastily, I don't do that," Trump said. "But the country wants to get back to work. Our country was built to get back to work."
Despite Trump’s insistence that the economy is a major concern and demands such an aggressive timeline, other administration officials tasked with fighting the virus have continued to issue dire warnings about its spread. On Tuesday, that included a message that people who had visited New York City recently needed to self quarantine for 14 days.
On Wednesday Fauci also offered an ominous warning about the future and a possible second cycle of the virus.
"I know we'll be successful in putting this down now," he said. "But we really need to be prepared for another cycle."