Trump responds to NYT report TRANSCRIPT: 4/13/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Shut it down. We have one
Seven cases were on January 31. Now, on January 21, there was a case. Not
one person had died.
You heard that, Steve, right? Not one person.
So, we have this massive country, the United States of America. We have the
greatest economy in the world, bigger than China’s by a lot, right, because
of what we have done over the last three-and-a-half years, prior to the
virus, but including the virus. So we have the biggest economy, the
greatest economy we have ever had, the highest employment numbers, the best
employment numbers, best unemployment numbers, also, the best of
So, on January 31, think of it, not one person has died. Not one. Nobody
died. Not one, Jon. You – I don’t think you will find any. This is
reported by CDC, confirmed by the news, which doesn’t mean anything to me,
because they don’t tell the truth.
But CDC reported. January 31, not one person has died. And I issued a
travel restriction from China. Think of it. So, nobody died, and I issue
it. You can’t get earlier than that.
So we have nobody died. And I said, China, you can’t come in, I’m sorry,
because I saw what was going on. It wasn’t so much what I was told. It was
that I saw what was going on. And I didn’t like it.
But I didn’t speak to Tony about it. Didn’t speak to very many people about
it. I didn’t like it.
So, what did I do? Ready? January 31, in the United States, not one person
had died because of the – again, the Wuhan virus. So, I issued travel
restrictions on that date, even though nobody died, and I got brutalized
over it by the press, because I was way too early. I shouldn’t have done
it. Brutalized by the press.
But sort of I have been brutalized for the last four years. I used to do
well, before I decided to run for politics. But I guess I’m doing OK,
because, to the best of my knowledge, I’m the president of the United
States, despite the things that are said.
So, then, first mandatory quarantine in more than 50 years, we did, first
mandatory in 50 years, the same restrictions that the Democrats and the
media called xenophobic. Now, Joe Biden said, he’s a racist. He called me a
racist because I said we’re shutting down entry from China. We’re shutting
it down. He called me xenophobic, and he called me a racist and other
Since then, on a Friday night two weeks ago, Joe Biden issued a statement -
- it wasn’t him. He didn’t write it. I’m sure he doesn’t even know that it
But the people from his campaign, who are smart – people that write those
little P.R. releases are pretty smart, reasonably good, not the best, but
they’re not bad.
But they issued a statement saying that Joe Biden agrees that the president
– that President Trump was right to close it down to China.
Now, he did that. Now, he issued on a Friday night. We have all heard about
that, Jon, Friday nights, right? In fact, his later was Friday night than I
ever released mine on Friday nights.
So, he did – he did it pretty late, I mean, like at 11:00 in the evening
or something. It’s pretty late.
Anyway, so Joe Biden issued. And it’s one of those things.
But, in February, Nancy Pelosi said we should come to Chinatown. This is
late February. Come to Chinatown. We think it’s very safe. Come here. Let’s
all have the big parade, Chinatown parade, probably referring to San
Francisco. And that’s it.
But I took this action early. And so the story in “The New York Times” was
a total fake. It’s a fake newspaper, and they write fake stories.
And, someday, hopefully in five years, when I’m not here, those papers are
all going out of business, because nobody is going to want to read them.
But now they like them, because they write about me.
Now, with that, I have a couple of interesting – we have a few clips that
we’re just going to put up. We could turn the lights a little bit lower. I
think you will find them interesting. And then we will answer some
questions. I’ll ask you some questions, because you’re so guilty, but
But, most importantly, we’re going to get back onto the reason we’re here,
which is the success we’re having. OK?
Please, you could put it on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People should be more concerned right now with the flu
in this country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people are concerned about the coronavirus
because they’re hearing a lot of news about it right now. But the reality
is, comparing it to the flu, for example, it’s not even close to being at
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: What if it is worse? Is this a moment where maybe
countries put politics aside, a little bit of pride aside? And do we have
U.S. officials? Should U.S. professionals such as yourself get involved?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How worried should Americans be about coronavirus?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coronavirus is not going to cause a major issue in the
TRUMP: Well, we have asked them to accelerate whatever they’re doing in
terms of a vaccine.
We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the
next 30 days.
To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort, today,
I am officially declaring a national emergency.
Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or videoconference at
no additional cost.
MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The first one million masks will be
MAGGIE HABERMAN, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: As there were more cases, and it was
clear that it was spreading out of China, where it originated, the
president took this move that he was widely criticized for by Democrats and
even some Republicans at the time, which was, he halted a number of flights
from China into the U.S.
The idea was to halt the spread of the disease, keep transmissions to a
minimum. He was accused of xenophobia. He was accused of making a racist
move. At the end of the day, it was probably effective, because it did
actually take a pretty aggressive measure against the spread of the virus.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): His team is on it. They have been responsive late
at night, early in the morning, and they have thus far been doing
everything that they can do. And I want to say thank you. And I want to say
that I appreciate it.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): He returns calls. He reaches out. He’s been
proactive. We got that Mercy ship down here in Los Angeles. That was
directly because he sent it down here; 2,000 medical units came to the
state of California, these FMS, these – these field medical stations.
And that’s been very, very helpful.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The president has been outstanding through all
this. The vice president’s been outstanding, members of the Coronavirus
Task Force very responsive.
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): We had asked if we could have, New Jersey could
have access to a piece of the beds that are on the USNS Comfort. And the
president came back, called me a short few minutes before I walked in here,
to say, indeed, they would grant that to New Jersey. So that’s a big step
for us, in addition to all the other capacity.
That news is literally hot off the press, and I thank the president and
vice president, who are on the call together.
GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R-AZ): President Trump approved Arizona’s request for a
presidential major disaster declaration. I want to thank the president for
a quick turnaround. We requested this on a Wednesday, and we had approval
by Saturday morning. And we are grateful to the administration for their
continued support and responsiveness.
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Well, first of all, I want to thank the president
and the vice president for doing a really good job of communicating with
all the governors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We are cutting into what was not a White House
Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
I am Ari Melber. Our special coverage continues.
We are going to avoid airing any more of this White House briefing, until
it returns to what it was supposed to be, which was the Coronavirus Task
Force providing medical information.
What we just saw, I want to be very clear with viewers, was a video the
White House put out, which suggests they are spending their precious time
right now making videos that defend the president’s record and tenure,
rather than provide the much-needed emergency medical information that was
promised at these daily briefings.
I want to bring in Professor Anne Rimoin, an infectious disease expert at
UCLA, virologist and NBC science contributor Joseph Fair. Howell Raines,
former editor of “The New York Times,” is with me as well.
And, Howell, I begin with you because you ran “The New York Times.” You
know your way around journalism.
I’m curious, as a journalist, what you think it’s important that viewers
know, when the White House basically takes over what was promised to be a
Coronavirus Task Force briefing and does some kind of backward-looking
edited video propaganda instead.
HOWELL RAINES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Ari, I think this is one of the most
astonishing acts of disinformation we have seen from a White House since
the Vietnam era and the 5:00 follies of Lyndon Johnson’s administration.
And the news today – and this is one of those days, as a journalist, when
you have to put on your analytical hat and hack your way through what’s
What really happened today is that some smart, serious governors, Governor
Newsom on the West Coast, Governor Cuomo and Governor Lamont on the East
Coast, took action to prevent the president from making a thunderous
blunder that would further endanger the health of the American people.
What we’re seeing here, I think, is a kind of imploding presidency. And,
with an implosion, you have to have a black hole at the center. And I think
what we have here is a black hole that consists of two elements, President
Trump’s extremely fragile ego and his distrust of expertise and government
And when I watched Dr. Fauci just now, I was reminded, as I am often by he
and the other doctors who come out, they remind me of nervous parents
trying to cope with a 3-year-old on a sugar high.
This is a very grim moment.
MELBER: Well, you mentioned Dr. Fauci.
And that was the other big piece of news here that I want viewers to know.
We cut away from the White House because it was not a coronavirus briefing.
It was not providing any facts or medical information, which is the purpose
of these stated briefings.
But, Dr. Fair, it did begin with very unusual remarks by Dr. Fauci. I want
everyone to have the full context.
There’s been a lot going on, a blockbuster, lengthy “New York Times”
investigative report that called the administration, and specifically
President Trump, to the carpet with voluminous detail.
There was also Dr. Fauci’s statements. And he’s known to be a straight
shooter. Let’s play for context what he said that set up this conflict
Here was Dr. Fauci Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: We look at it from a pure health
standpoint. We make a recommendation. Often, the recommendation is taken.
Sometimes, it’s not.
But we – it is what it is. We are where we are right now.
I mean, obviously, you could logically say, that if you had a process that
was ongoing, and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved
lives. Obviously, no one is going to deny that.
Obviously, if we had, right from the very beginning, shut everything down,
it may have been a little bit different.
But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Quote: “No one is going to deny that.”
Dr. Fair, moments ago, as we just cut out from the White House, Dr. Fauci
took the lectern and did something, as a journalist, I haven’t seen him do
in the whole pendency of this of – this tough time for the United States,
which is say basically what Donald Trump apparently wanted him to say, that
the criticism we just aired, you just saw, was – quote – “a poor choice
What do you see here on the medical facts, Doctor?
DR. JOSEPH FAIR, MSNBC SCIENCE CONTRIBUTOR: I think Dr. Fauci is, I have
worked – I had the fortune to work with him a number of times over my
career. And he’s very much a straight shooter.
I think, generally, everything that he has said in these conferences can be
trusted. And I think everybody in the community, Dr. Rimoin and myself,
would agree on that, that he is trusted entirely by our community and
globally as a figure.
So I think maybe he had to do a little bit of political backstepping today,
just because you can’t have one of your top generals maybe saying certain
things that you’re sensitive about.
But, otherwise, scientifically and facts-based information, he’s still
giving that every day.
MELBER: Dr. Rimoin, I think anyone could understand the pressure of the
situation, That Dr. Fauci, from what we know about his long public service
record, cares a heck of a lot more about staying on the job, so he can do
this work during the pandemic, than the Washington games of a boss who
demands a level of loyalty and fealty that has been well-documented.
We have covered it on this show and others.
Your view of where that fight, that conflict is, now that Dr. Fauci has
apparently tried to give Trump some cover for, as Mr. Raines put it, his –
quote – “ego.”
DR. ANNE RIMOIN, UCLA EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Well, Dr. Fair and I have worked
together over many, many years and seen much a lot of different politics
play out in epidemics.
So, politics and epidemics are unfortunately inextricably bound. And I
think that the key here is, we, standing on the other side of it, do not
know what is going on behind closed doors. And, really, I think what we –
our job is right now is to keep the discussion on what needs to be done,
what needs to go forward.
Where is the – where are we on the curve? Where is the testing? Where are
we on national response? And I think that that’s really the best thing that
we can be doing right now. We know that there are politics. We don’t know
exactly what’s happening behind closed doors.
What we can do is keep…
MELBER: Well, we know – I appreciate your – I appreciate your rigor and
We know a great deal. I mean, I have got a 16-page printout of “The New
York Times” ’ story that’s a blockbuster. And I understand that some of our
medical experts are – there’s only so far you’re going to go.
But, Howell, I would ask for your view of what we know about “The New York
Times” putting the president on blast with facts and e-mails that date back
to January of people saying: This is coming. This is unavoidable. There are
things we can do to save lives, and “The Times” reporting – and I spoke to
one of those reporters on our broadcasts earlier today – reporting out
that the president didn’t want to hear, wouldn’t deal with it.
And they say, the experts quoted in “The Times” say, that cost lives. That
is, I think, the larger tension about whether there is accountability and
this stuff gets fixed, because that pressure is playing out in the ongoing
RAINES: It was a stunning piece of journalism.
RIMOIN: Well, I think that we can go to the science.
MELBER: Let me go to – Doctor, let me go to – I’m sorry. That’s my bad.
Let me go to Howell and then back to Dr. Rimoin for a response.
RAINES: Ari, I was saying, it’s a stunning piece of journalism that landed
like a blockbuster in the foxhole of an embattled White House.
And the theme, what it showed beyond dispute was that the president was
asleep at the wheel and wasted two or more months before getting to the
three things that have to be done, shut down the economy, tests, as the
governors are begging for today, and progress on a vaccine.
There’s no – the reason that we saw this extraordinary disinformation from
the White House is because that report defined exactly the situation of
this president. He is not in touch with the reality that the country is
And I want to add something about those governors who spoke out today. This
is a reverse spin of the traditional debate on states’ rights. There’s
hardly a more pernicious term in American history than states’ rights.
Today, we saw responsible governors asking the White House to emphasize the
role of the federal government in putting a sheltering hand over the nation
on problems that require a strategic response from the White House.
And this is an abdication of responsibility. And I was really impressed
with the delicacy with which Governor Cuomo and the others made the two key
points. You can’t shut down without killing people, and we are begging you
just give us the testing we need to decide when to began to reopen our
cities and states.
MELBER: Well, and you mentioned Governor Cuomo. We have some new sound from
But, first, Dr. Rimoin, your view.
RIMOIN: I agree entirely.
I think that the bottom line is, is the politics have gotten in the way of
public health. And I really I think that this is our big point here. Public
health is critical right now, not politics.
And we have seen, in epidemics over and over again politics overshadowing
public health. I think that this is the key point that we see over and over
and over again.
And, of course, that’s what we saw happen here today. And this “New York
Times” report is just documenting those facts. But this is not new to
epidemics. We have seen this happen over and over again. I would say that
that’s number one.
Number two, what I would like to see is to be sure that, going forward,
that we do not see – that we see some sort of national strategy, we see
the testing we need, and we see the focus on what needs to happen going
I just – I think that this is where we’re all at, and this is what’s
happening to everybody.
MELBER: Yes. Sure. That makes a lot of sense.
For viewers who are just joining us, I’m Ari Melber. This is THE BEAT.
And, at this hour, often, on many news channels, you would be watching the
White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
We have ceased carrying it because, even by the standards of the Trump
administration, which has had long and wide-ranging briefings, this
basically devolved into a complete political attempt to defend the
administration, including what seemed to be a hastily arranged, edited
interview of selective quotes of different news broadcasts and other
coverage, all designed not to inform, not to update, not to do what this
briefing is supposed to do, but, rather, to defend the president against
what our guests and I have just been discussing, a mountain of evidence,
including a blockbuster “New York Times” report, that the president made
fundamental mistakes and errors in the coronavirus response.
In addition, this briefing, as mentioned, included these remarks from Dr.
For Dr. Fair on the other side, for viewers who are joining us, this was a
significant and unusual statement.
Let’s listen again to a selection of Dr. Fauci just moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: I was asked a hypothetical question. And hypothetical questions
sometimes can get you into some difficulty, because it’s what would have or
The nature of the hypothetical question was if, in fact, we had mitigated
earlier, could lives have been saved?
And the answer to my question, as I always do, and I’m doing right now,
perfectly honestly, say, yes.
I mean, obviously, if you – mitigation helps. I have been up here many
times telling you that mitigation works. So, if mitigation works, and you
instigate it and you initiate it earlier, you will probably have saved more
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Dr. Fair?
No, I – I still think he’s going back to kind of what he initially said,
and he’s not saying anything wrong. It’s true. The mitigation is actually -
- if you think about this kind of like a forest fire, I’d say that was
probably the closest natural disaster analogy I can give you to an
So, if you think about outbreaks and epidemics as forest fires, it’s the
mitigation efforts early on, and before you let it grow very large and then
grow into multiple epicenters, those are the efforts that save the lives.
The social distancing, including – as long as – I’m sorry – in addition
to testing, public service announcements, there’s a whole toolkit that we
take with us to kind of mitigate these epidemics. And that mitigation early
on is what leads to flattening the curve earlier, which leads to a lower
total overall number of cases.
So, he’s – I don’t think he’s changing anything he said. If we had
mitigated early on, it’s absolutely true we would have saved more lives. If
this was taken seriously back in January, yes, absolutely true. More lives
would have been saved.
We could have ordered things that we knew were going to take time, such as
the PPE, the reagents, the diagnostic tests, for example. The commercial
sector could have been engaged much earlier on, because it takes time.
These aren’t widgets that are made in a factory.
So, even with things like the Defense Production Act for like the
diagnostic tests, it’s still going to take a significant amount of time to
ramp those up for a nationwide supply, not just for the United States, but
for the global supply of those kind of tests.
MELBER: Yes. All of that makes a lot of sense.
And you’re emphasizing…
MELBER: Howell, I’m going to get to you one sec. I’m going to play
something actually for you.
But what Dr. Fair, I think, is emphasizing is important for everyone to
keep in mind, which is that, according to Dr. Fair – and now we have
played it – people can hear with their own ears – it’s not that Dr. Fauci
is walking back the points he made about the response, about mitigation,
about the approach to public health, but, rather, he did go to the lectern,
and in front of the head of the federal government today, and say something
that Donald Trump could also seize on at this moment of profound weakness.
With that said, Howell, you raised the point on something else we wanted to
cover today, which is the way that these states are dealing with that
somewhat personalized response from the president out here declaring, well,
he’s in charge, he will make the call, this and that.
Governor Cuomo has been front and center in New York. I spoke with him just
a little while ago here on live television in our coverage.
I want to play a clip of that for you, Howell. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): No one has had a more fractious relationship, no
governor has had a more fractious relationship with this president than I
have, but not now.
You want to now say the federal government is in charge, which, by the way,
is a shift, because the federal government didn’t close down the economy,
right? They left it to the states.
But now the federal government says it can open it. Well, then why didn’t
you close it, if you can open it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Why didn’t you close it?
I mean, Howell, Governor Cuomo making it very clear there that Donald Trump
talks a lot of mess on Twitter alone in his room on his phone, but when it
was time to make that hard call of closing down, he didn’t do it
And it took the NBA and the NHL and different states to rise to the
occasion of the seriousness of this, before we got to the new normal we
live in now, Howell.
Well, like every senior editor of “The New York Times,” I have from time to
time crossed swords with the Governors Cuomo, but no one has ever faulted
them for not putting the hay down to where the goats can get it, as the
Southern politicians say.
RAINES: Governor Cuomo (AUDIO GAP).
Earlier this week, yesterday, as I recall, the president said the governors
have got to get busy and carry out the testing. He was openly abdicating
the federal responsibility for a national health care strategy.
And, today, he comes out tweeting that he is in charge, and the governors
have to step back. I think, in a constitutional sense, we have seen an
important moment of a group of these state leaders coming of age and really
filling up their jobs, at the time when we have got an amazing shrinking
And I know our medical experts can’t be as blunt as – in saying that as I
can, as an old-time editorialist, but this is a remarkable failure of
RAINES: And the core of the White House – the core of…
MELBER: Well, Howell, stay – stay with me, Howell.
MELBER: I’m jumping in because I want to keep viewers apprised of what’s
We cut out of this briefing for the reasons stated. We are seeing
journalists now questioning the president on this dramatic day.
We’re going to listen in to that portion and bring you more fact-checking
and coverage as we continue.
QUESTION: or this rant supposed to make people feel positive in an
TRUMP: I just went over it.
Nobody thought we should do it. And when I did it…
QUESTION: But what did you do with the time that you bought the month of
TRUMP: You know what we did?
QUESTION: That video has gaps, the entire month of February.
TRUMP: You know what we did? What do you do – what do you do when you have
no case in the whole United States, when you…
QUESTION: You had cases in February.
TRUMP: Excuse me. You reported it. Zero cases, zero deaths on January 17.
QUESTION: January. February – the entire month of February.
TRUMP: January – I said in January.
QUESTION: Your video has a complete gap.
TRUMP: On January 30…
QUESTION: What did your administration do in February with the time that
your travel ban bought you?
TRUMP: A lot.
TRUMP: A lot.
And, in fact, we will give you a list, what we did. In fact, part of it was
up there. We did a lot.
QUESTION: … had a gap.
TRUMP: Look, look – you know, you’re a fake. You know that. Your whole
network, the way you cover it, is fake, and most of you – and not all of
you, but the people are wise to you.
That’s why you have a lower – a lower approval rating than you have ever
had before times probably three.
TRUMP: And when you ask me that question…
QUESTION: Twenty million people are unemployed, tens of thousands of
TRUMP: Let me ask you this. Why didn’t Biden – why didn’t – why did Biden
apologize? Why did he write a letter of apology?
QUESTION: … cares about why Joe Biden didn’t apologize to you…
TRUMP: No, that’s very important.
Why did the Democrats think that I acted too quickly? You know why? Because
they really thought that I acted too quickly. We have done a great job.
TRUMP: Now, I could have – I could have kept it open.
And I could have done what some countries are doing. They’re getting beat
up pretty badly. I could have kept it open. I thought of keeping it open,
because nobody’s ever heard of closing down a country, let alone the United
States of America.
But if I would have done that, we would have had hundreds of thousands of
people that would right now be dead. We have done this right. And we really
– we really have done this right.
The problem is, the press doesn’t cover it the way it should be.
Go ahead, one more question.
Steve, go ahead.
QUESTION: There’s a debate over what authority you have to order the
What authority do you have?
TRUMP: Well, I have the ultimate authority. But we’re going to get into
that in a minute.
We’re going to just finish this up. We’re going to tell you about other
things that we have done right. But I will say this. Had we said, let’s
just keep going and let’s not do a closing, whether it’s 2.2 that they at
one point predicted as an outside, or 1.6 at a lower number, you cut it all
the way down to 600,000 or 700,000 or 800,000, take just a fraction of the
number that could have happened, it literally would have been more than the
It would have been a disaster. So, the minimum number was 100,000. And I
think I feel pretty good that we’re going to be substantially below,
Anthony, the 100,000. And I hope we will.
All right, so, today, the Department of Health and Human Services
announcing five new contracts to procure large numbers of additional
ventilators, under the Defense Production Act, which we used a lot, by the
way, which you didn’t like to talk about, in addition to the 1,300 we
We received today 1,300 additional ventilators. Now, we’re probably not
going to need them, but we can add that to our stockpile, which is very
big. And we can move it around, should the surge take place and should it
be a very substantial surge. We’re ready to – we’re ready to rock.
The contracts are with General Electric, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed, and
Vyaire, combined with the DPA contracts that we announced last week with
General Motors and Philips, and two other contracts with Hamilton and ZOLL.
We’re 6,190 ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile, of which we
have a lot already, thousands, close to 10,000. But this will be added by
May 8, another 29,000 by the end of May. And more than 120,000 total, we
will have by the end of the year.
Now, we’re going to help other countries. We’re going to help states if
they need it. We may help some states stockpile.
They’re supposed to buy their own stockpile. They have state stockpiles.
They’re supposed to be using that. And, unfortunately, most of the states
weren’t there. And a lot of people didn’t want to talk about it, but they
weren’t there. We will talk about it at the right time, if you want to.
I – I, at this point, I’m more focused on getting past this nightmare of
the epidemic or a pandemic, anything you want to call it. We got to get
No one who has needed a ventilator has not gotten a ventilator. Think of
that. You know, you heard all about ventilators, ventilators, we need
ventilators, because they didn’t have them, because the states should have
No one who has needed a ventilator has not gotten a ventilator. No one who
has needed a hospital bed has been denied a hospital bed. That’s not even
really our responsibility.
If we can help, we’re going to do it, but that’s where the Army Corps of
Engineers did such a great job. We built over 20,000 beds. In fact, we
built thousands more than we’ve actually needed to be safe. We wanted to be
safe and we really – they rose to this incredible occasion. We built more
beds than we thought. We thought in Louisiana we were going heavy, and
again, when I called the governor, I said maybe we shouldn’t build that
second hospital because we don’t want to build it if you don’t need it. He
called back. He said I don’t think we’re going to need it. They had 1,000
rooms, 1,000 beds, and they used a lot of them, but they didn’t need the
other ones, so we stopped it because we don’t want to waste. But we are
prepared to build thousands more should we need it. I don’t think we’re
going to need it because it looks like we are plateauing, and maybe even in
many cases coming down.
In addition, we’ve ordered a total of 16 mobile decontamination systems. So
the decontamination system from Battelle in Ohio is an incredible thing
because it takes the masks, and up to 20 times you can decontaminate a
mask. And I’ve been asking from the beginning, why can’t we sterilize or
sanitize these masks? And it turned out we can. And there was a great
company in Ohio. They sent us some great equipment, and they are doing that
And now we are going to have more than 33 million N95 masks per week will
be cleaned, decontaminated, and it will be great. It’s something that,
frankly, I think people should have thought of a long time ago. Five more
flights landed today as part of the project air bridge. Our massive airlift
operation to bring personal protective equipment into the United States
which has now delivered nearly half a million N95 masks, 370 million
gloves, 25 million surgical masks, and 4.9 million gallons. So we have
millions of gowns, gloves, masks, all surgical equipment coming in should
the states need it.
The states are supposed to be buying their own stuff, but should they need
it, we are ready to give it, because we are building up our stockpile again
like crazy. Remember, and you saw the stories, I inherited, this
administration, Mike, myself, the whole administration, we inherited a
stockpile where the cupboards were bare. There was nothing. And I say it,
and I’ll say it again, just like we didn’t have ammunition, we didn’t have
medical supplies. We didn’t have ventilators. We didn’t have a lot of
things that should’ve been had, and you can read your own stories on that
because you know what happened. They didn’t want to spend the money. But we
To date we have facilitated the supply of more than 38 million N95 masks
nationwide. This week we’ll be sending 2 million N95 masks to the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The vice president will go into more detail.
He’s got great detail on that, and I think it’s a pretty amazing story. We
have a lot of masks already in stock, and we have more coming.
We are further expanding hospital surge capacities in key areas of the
opening, and we have a portion of certain V.A. hospitals and nonveteran
coronavirus patients, including at the East Orange, New Jersey, medical
center as well as facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn. They’re ready.
They’re able. They’re beautiful. Hopefully we won’t need to many of them
because, frankly, we built everything the governors wanted, and in many
cases it’s too much. We told them it was too much, but we wanted to err on
the side of caution.
The United States has conducted nearly 3 million tests for the virus, 3
million, the most of any nation. We are performing approximately 115,000
tests every single day, and our rate of testing is especially high in areas
hardest hit by the virus. If you look, and that’s really, it hit some
areas, the virus, very, very hard. For example, per capita testing in New
York is higher than the rest of the world. the NIH, CDC, and FDA are also
currently validating several antibody tests that will allow us to determine
whether someone has already had the virus and potentially become immune to
infection. We’re looking at that. The antibody tests are going to be very
interesting over the next short while. A lot of things are being developed
as we speak.
In the race to develop effective treatments, the drug company Gilead
announced its drug Remdesivir has shown very promising results, very
promising, in compassionate use settings. In addition, the FDA has just
granted emergency authorization for a device that removes certain proteins
from the bloodstream, possibly preventing a patient’s immune system from
overreacting to the virus and damaging vital organs, which is a big
Furthermore, over the last seven days my administration has deployed
roughly 28 million doses of hydroxychloroquine from our national stockpile.
We have millions of doses that we bought, and many people are using it all
over the country. And just recently, a friend of mine told me he got better
because of the use of that drug. So who knows? And you combine it with Z-
Pak, you combine it with zinc, depending on your doctor’s recommendation,
and it’s having some very good results, I’ll tell you. You think if anybody
recommended other than me it would be used all over the place, to be honest
with you. I think the fact that I recommended probably set it back a lot.
But a lot of good things are happening with it, a lot of good tests.
Scientists are also pursuing a blood therapy known as convalescent plasma,
convalescent plasma. This therapy uses antibodies from the blood of
recovered patients to treat those who are sick. And this is something that
actually is a very old procedure, but it’s done in a very modern way.
During this difficult time, we are also working to ensure that the 2020
census is completed safely and accurately. We may be asking for an
extension, because obviously they can’t be doing very much right now. They
wouldn’t even be allowed to do it, so the census, we are going to be asking
for a delay, a major delay. I think how can you possibly be knocking on
doors for a long period of time now?
The Census Bureau recently made the decision to temporary suspend its field
operation data collection activities to help stop the spread. In addition,
while millions of Americans continue to complete their questionnaire
online, the Census Bureau has asked Congress for a 120 extension. I don’t
know that you even have to ask them. This is called an act of God. This is
called a situation that has to be – they have to give it. I think 120 days
isn’t nearly enough.
My administration is also taking bold action to help American workers. On
Friday, Americans began receiving cash payments authorized by a historic $2
trillion relief bill. By the end of the week, nearly 80 million Americans
will receive a total of $147 billion, and from what the secretary of the
treasury tells me, that’s very much on time and going very nicely. He will
be speaking in a moment.
These payments go directly into the banks and the bank accounts of these
people. Millions of additional payments will follow. The typical family of
four received $3,400. That’s for a family of four. That’s something.
Additionally, through our paycheck protection program, which is a
tremendous success, and they should extended an increase it. This has been
a tremendous success, so successful that the banks are taking a little bit
longer to distribute the money, but it’s going rapidly. We have now
processed over $200 billion in loans to help small businesses retain their
workers. Now we urgently need lawmakers to set aside the partisan agendas
and to replenish this program with new funds because it’s really something
that has been an incredible success. And they need more money to keep it
going to take care of these businesses and keep them open.
I want to thank the many governors, health professionals, scientists and
business leaders for their incredible hard work and input over the past
month, and even long beyond a month, Mike, I would say. We’ve been working
together with a lot of them for it seems like forever. I’ve been having
many discussions with my team and top experts. And we are very close to
completing a plan to open our country hopefully even ahead of schedule. And
that’s so important.
We will soon finalize new and very important guidelines to give governors
the information they need to start safely opening their states. My
administration’s plan and corresponding guidelines will give the American
people the confidence they need to begin returning to normal life. That’s
what we want. We want to have our country open. We want to return to normal
life. Our country is going to be open, and it’s going to be successfully
opened. And we’ll be explaining over a very short number of days exactly
what is going to be.
We also, as you probably heard, developed a committee. We are actually
calling it a number of committees with the most prominent people in the
country, the most successful people in the various fields, and we’ll be
announcing them tomorrow.
This weekend the United States also helped facilitate an unprecedented
agreement among the 23 nations of OPEC Plus. That’s OPEC plus additional
energy producing nations representing many of the world’s largest oil
producing countries to stabilize oil markets. And we have in fact, and I
think you’ve seen a big stabilization over the last couple of days.
Together countries around the world will cut oil production by
approximately 20 million barrels. People are saying 10 million, but we
think that the number that they will actually hit is going to be closer to
20 million barrels a day, and that will help a lot with saving jobs all
over Texas and Oklahoma and North Dakota and many other of our big energy
This historic action will help nearly 11 million American workers who are
supported by the U.S. oil and gas industry. It’s a very monumental
agreement. I want to think Saudi Arabia and the king of Saudi Arabia, crown
prince of Saudi Arabia, both. I want to thank President Putin of Russia,
and I want to thank a very good friend of mine, a man who has become a
friend of mine. The president of Mexico showed great flexibility, President
Lopez Obrador. He showed great flexibility and tremendous intelligence
doing what he did. It was not that easy for him, and I want to thank Mexico
and the president. This is a very historic deal, very historic. So we will
see how it all goes.
In this time and challenge, and we are certainly in a time probably like we
haven’t been in many, many decades, we are strengthened and sustained by
the bonds of love and loyalty that unite all Americans. I’m so proud of the
American people. Everywhere you look, you see the patriotism of our people
shining through and the courage of our doctors and nurses on the front
lines, in the dedication of our food supply workers, and in the commitment
of every citizen to achieving victory over the virus. That’s what’s going
to happen. It’s going to happen sooner than people think, and we are going
to be smart about it, very, very smart about it. We’re going to be safe
about it. We’re going to be listening also to the great doctors and medical
Together we are beating back the invisible enemy and we are paving the way
for great resurgence, really a great resurgence of American prosperity. Our
country wants to go back. They want to go back to work. They are going to
go back safely, and that’s what we want.
I’d like now to ask Vice President Pence to say a few words, followed by
Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx. I think before we do this, because I know there’s
an emergency where they want Steve to come, so what I’ll do is I’ll ask
Steve to come up, secretary of the treasury. You can talk a little bit and
then maybe take a couple questions about what’s happening. Tell them the
success we are having. Thank you very much.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Vice
President. As you announced, we are pleased that we are ahead of schedule
on delivering the economic impact payments. These were what was known as
the checks in the mail that we want to deliver in direct deposit. This is
ahead of schedule. We started processing those last Friday. We expect that
over 80 million hardworking Americans will get the direct deposit by this
Wednesday. And we know how important that is to all of those hardworking
Americans, many of which are at home not working at the moment.
If you do not receive them by Wednesday, on Wednesday we will be launching
at IRS.gov, click on IRS.gov, go to “Get Your Payment.” If you filed a tax
return in 2018 or 19, have that information available. You will be able to
I.D. yourself. You’ll be able to put in your direct deposit information.
And within several days we will automatically deposit the money into your
account. We want to do as much of this electronically as we can. It’s very
important in this day and age, it’s more secure, and you don’t have to go
to the bank.
If you are a Social Security beneficiary, you do not need to do anything.
You will get a direct deposit. If you have not filed and did not need to
file a 2018 or 2019 return, you can go to IRS.gov now and enter your
information and authenticate yourself. So again, we are very pleased that
that is ahead of schedule.
I’d also like to announce the progress we’re making on the new SBA program,
the PPP. Let me just remind everybody, this is a brand new program that is
now one-week-old. We have distributed and confirmed $230 billion of loans
to over 4,600 lenders participating. That is multiples and multiples of
anything that the SBA has ever done in one year before. And I especially
want to thank the broad-based community banks that are participating,
again, over 4,600 banks. If you haven’t had your loan processed, you will
get it processed this week. As the president said, we have gone back to
Congress and asked them for more money to make sure that every business has
access to this.
Let me also comment for the states, we are distributing out half the money
this week to the states. That’s a week ahead of time. And we will deliver
the other half of the money to the states next week. And then let me just
finally comment, we have been working very closely with the Federal
Reserve. Last week we announced expanded facilities and new facilities that
totaled $2.3 trillion of liquidity, and in particular I would just like to
highlight a main street lending facility that will be for companies between
one worker and 10,000 people, so midsized businesses. And also a municipal
facility for states and local governments to be able to access funds given
the shortages that they have.
So with that, I’m happy to answer any questions.
TRUMP: Do you have any questions for Steve, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir. Both Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader
Schumer have said that they are in negotiations with you right now on
additional funding for these small business loans and that package. Leader
McConnell, though, has said that nothing should be added to the package.
They should just be specific to small business loans. What is the opinion
of your administration? Should there be some sort of horse trading, or
should it just be small business loans?
MNUCHIN: The president’s view and the vice president’s and my view is this
was a bipartisan program. This SBA program, it wasn’t a Republican program.
It wasn’t a Democrat program. It was a bipartisan program. We have
committed to small businesses. We should top up that program now. I know
the Democrats want to talk about more money for hospitals and states. Right
now, we are just sending the money out to the hospitals and states. They
haven’t come close to using that money.
And I know the president and vice president have said once we get the SBA
done, we can go into another funding bill. The president has talked about
potentially adding infrastructure and other things. We think there is a
likelihood we will need more money, and we will sit down and try to get a
bipartisan bill. But this is important we deliver on small businesses, 50
percent of the people work for small businesses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the emergency that the president said you had to
go for? The president said you had an emergency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over this bill?
MNUCHIN: Yes, because we don’t want to run out of money. We’ve used about
$220 billion of the $350 billion. We don’t want to run out of that money.
We don’t want to create panics that people won’t get it. So that’s why we
want to top that up, and we’ve asked for another $250 billion for that
And again, let me just remind you, every dollar we spend in this program we
save a dollar of unemployment insurance. So even though we are asking for
$250 billion, it really won’t cost that much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have concerns about lifting the guidelines too
soon? And what is the economic impact? I understand the argument for
getting people back to work obviously, but what is the economic risk of
lifting them too early and seeing a spike in cases again?
MNUCHIN: First, there’s economic risks in both directions. We reviewed with
the president today a very broad list of over 100 business people that are
going to help advise the president on what needs to be done to reopen the
economy. We want to make sure, and again, the combination of economic
impact payments, small business payments, enhanced unemployment insurance.
The president made very clear we want to make sure that hardworking
Americans have liquidity while we wait to reopen the government.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So do you believe the government should be – or the
country, excuse me, should be reopened on May 1?
MNUCHIN: I’ve had discussions with the president. I know he is considering
it, and I believe he’s going to make a decision later in the week.
TRUMP: Everything has to be safe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your advice to the president?
MNUCHIN: My advice is, as soon as it’s ready to open and based upon the
medical professionals, and, again, we are working very closely with the
president and outside business leaders to develop a plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you sketch for us what reopening the economy looks
like? Do you think it’s going to be everything open?
TRUMP: I’m doing that over the next few days because we’ll probably be
making a statement about that and exactly what it looks like. I know what
that looks like, but I also want to get the advice, in a sense. We have
some of the biggest from every business on this council – we are actually
setting up a number of different councils or committees, I guess you could
call them. And we have a lot of smart people. I think that they will give
us some also good advice. But no, we want to be very, very safe. At the
same time, we have got to get our country open.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you think there is a possibility then
that what you do is you open it incrementally, do you think people will go
back to restaurants, concerts, the cinema?
TRUMP: I do think so, eventually they will, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And let me ask –
TRUMP: I think eventually they will. And I think we are going to – boom, I
think it’s going to go quickly. Our people want to get back to work, and I
think there is a pent up demand like that hasn’t been in a long time. And
that’s why you see the stock market, to think that the stock market is at
the level it is right now with all that this world and this country, and
look at the European Union, how badly decimated they have been. Look at
other countries. Look at China, by the way. I’ve seen the numbers. Look at
China. Look at how these countries are just been decimated by this. And to
think that the stock market is at this tremendously high number. Not that
much – it was looking bleak for a while, but it hit a certain point and
then started going out. I think that’s a great tribute to the fact that
there’s a demand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, thank you, sir. In regards to some of
your tweets earlier today, and I think it was Steve’s question, my question
to you is what provision in the Constitution gives the president the power
to open or close state economies? And then –
TRUMP: Numerous provisions. We’ll give you a legal brief if you want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’ll be looking forward to that, sir. But following up,
what happens if you say, for instance, we want states to reopen, but
California or New York do not open. What would you do then?
TRUMP: I think everybody wants to open. I guess that could happen, but I
don’t think that would happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: – states that have closed, ordered schools closed,
there have been states that have ordered businesses like restaurants –
TRUMP: That’s because I let that happen. Because I would have preferred
that, I let that happen. But if I wanted to, I could’ve close it up. But I
let that happen. And I like the way they’ve done it. And the seven that
remained in sort of a semi-lockdown, if you look at those states, they’ve
really done a very good job. They’re very much different from a New York or
from other places where they’ve been hit very hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you’re prepared to say to states I order you to
open your schools, I order you to –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Mr. President, following up on that, there are two
consortiums of states today, California, Oregon, and Washington on the west
coast, northeastern states, totally representing about 100 million people
who said they are going to cooperate and decide when to reopen.
TRUMP: They can decide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that undermine what you are trying to do?
TRUMP: No, not at all. Let me just tell you very simple. I’m going to put
it very simply. The president of the United States has the authority to do
what the president has the authority to do, which is very powerful. The
president of the United States calls the shots. If we weren’t here for the
states, you would’ve had a problem in this country like you’ve never seen
before. We were here to back them up, and we have more than backed them up.
We did a job that nobody ever thought was possible. It’s a decision for the
president of the United States.
With that being said, we’re going to work with the states, because it’s
very important. You have local governments, they are pinpointed. It’s
really, you talk about, it’s like a microchip. They are pinpointed. We have
local government that hopefully will do a good job. And if they don’t do a
good job, I would step in so fast. But no, they can’t do anything without
the approval of the president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if some state refuse to reopen and you order them to,
the 10th Amendment to the Constitution says all powers that don’t reside in
the president or the Congress reside in the states. How do you –
TRUMP: If some states refuse to open, I would like to see that person run
for election. They are going to open. They’re going to all open. I think
that’s something that’s not going to happen. They want to open. They have
to get open. They have to get open, every one of those states, the people
want to go and they want – now, some are in a different situation. You
have, I won’t name states now but I will over the next two or three days,
I’m going to be very specific, but you have some states where this is not
the kind of problem that it is in New York or Louisiana or Michigan or
other places that got hit very hard. Illinois got hit very hard. But all
states want to open and they want to open as soon as possible. But they
want to open safely, and so do I.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President. Today the French President
Emmanuel Macron said that he will keep the shock down in France in the
middle of May. Does that mean the U.S. keep the ban –
TRUMP: France got hit very hard. France got hit very hard. And again, he
has to do what he has to do. He’s a friend of mine. But France, Spain has
just been decimated. You look at what’s happened in Italy. It’s a very
well-known fact what happened in Italy. They were hit very hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A question for Secretary Mnuchin. Has everybody that
you would like to have, the 100 business people on the economic council,
have they all been invited already?
MNUCHIN: They haven’t been invited yet. We just reviewed the names with the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And are they from all sectors?
MNUCHIN: Yes. Basically, they’re vertical, so every single area of the
economy we want it to be represented.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great. One other thing. Is there anything else that
needs to be done to work on oil industry jobs, to save oil industry job
after the deal this past weekend?
MNUCHIN: I think there’s always things. Working with Larry Kudlow, we have
economic plans for every single part of the economy. Obviously in the case
of the oil industry, they’ve been hit especially hard, because you’ve had
both the supply issue and you’ve had the demand issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you figured out the bailout money for the airlines,
the allocations for the airlines?
MNUCHIN: I am pleased to say we’ve worked very hard. I think as you
probably have seen, we put out a press release that we have now had
discussions with almost all the airlines. I personally had discussions with
all the major airlines CEOS. We specifically created an exception for small
airlines that we could process very quickly, and I think you’ll see very
quickly decisions coming out. I’m very pleased with the discussions we’ve
TRUMP: We have had very good discussions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Secretary, do you see a need for a phase four
TRUMP: I just want to say we have had – excuse me, one second. We’ve had
very good discussions with the airlines. Very good discussions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is impossible to reopen the economy on May the 1st?
TRUMP: I don’t want to say that. You’ll be hearing over the next few days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see a need for a phase four, this push in lieu of
MNUCHIN: Again, let me just comment. Congress on a bipartisan basis
approved an unprecedented amount of money to help American workers and
American business, because it was no fault of their own that business was
We have been very diligently executing on that. Everybody said it was going
to take months to get people money. We are executing very quickly. We
created a whole new SBA program in a week. Our job right now is to execute
the $2.3 billion which we can add several trillion dollars with the Fed.
The one area we are particularly concerned about is the small business
program. Quite frankly, it’s even more incredibly popular and successful
than we anticipated. So the president wants to be very clear we have money
for that, and once we get done with that, we will review with the
president. If there is more money than needs to be to support this economy,
to support hardworking Americans, we will work with Congress to get that.
TRUMP: And Steve, do you want to talk about phase four?
MNUCHIN: So phase four, the president has talked about infrastructure for a
long period time. We’ve talked about to the extent that the hospitals need
more money because of the medical issues, we will monitor that. We want to
make sure there are incentives for restaurants, entertainment, people to
get back to those types of things. So we will be looking and very
specifically provisions to stimulate parts of the economy. Some of them may
be money issues. Some of them may be regulatory issues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, just to clarify your understanding of
your authority vis-a-vis governors, just to be very specific. For instance,
if a governor issued a stay-at-home order –
TRUMP: When you say my authority, the president’s authority. Because it’s
not me. When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority
is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Total, your authority is total?
TRUMP: Total, it’s total. And the governors know that. The governors know
that. You have a couple of – excuse me, excuse me. You have a couple bands
of Democratic governors, but they will agree to it. They will agree to it.
But the authority of the president of the United States having to do with
the subject we are talking about is total.
Please, go ahead. Go ahead, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the things we saw your video was the travel ban
from Europe. And as part of reopening America, do you want to reopen the
border so that people from Europe, form the U.K. –
TRUMP: At the right time. It’s a very good question, actually. I’m going to
have to take a look. I wouldn’t say Italy is doing great right now, and I
wouldn’t say Spain is doing great right now, and we just heard that France
is extending its stay inside order, right? They have extended it. I just
seen that, I think for a short period of time. But when they’re back, we
want to do it very quickly, but we want to make sure everything is good.
Right now we have a very strong ban. We’re going to keep it that way until
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weeks, months?
TRUMP: I can’t tell you that. I have to see, how they are doing. France
just went for another two weeks. We have to see. John?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Dr. Fauci said that you took his advice on the
question of mitigation. He made the recommendation. You accepted it. He put
it into place. As you make this next decision –
TRUMP: I’m not sure who really gave me advice on the ban. I think I took my
own advice on the ban.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The social distancing, I’m talking about, the shutting
down, not of travel but of activity. So my question is, as you make this
next decision, which you have said may be the most difficult or important
decision of your presidency, will you assure the American people that you
will again take the advice of the doctors, of Dr. Fauci, of Dr. Birx? Will
you take the advice of the health experts before –
TRUMP: I will, and many other people, also. But I will absolutely take
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you go against their recommendation? If they say
you need another 15 or 30 days?
TRUMP: I don’t think it will be likely because I think we’re not very far
from being on the same page.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Mr. President. One thing that Governor Cuomo said
today is that states do not have the capacity to do mass COVID-19 testing
ahead of a reopening.
TRUMP: They have to do it. They’re supposed to be doing it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said they can’t purchase the diagnostic tests or
equipment and needs federal help. So will they get it?
TRUMP: They may need help.
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