Trump responds to NYT report TRANSCRIPT: 4/13/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Anne Rimoin

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Shut it down. We have one case.

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 everything.

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 things.

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 was issued.

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 forget it.

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 that stage.

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 United States.

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 available immediately.

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 really happening.

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 experts.

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 today.

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 of words."

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...

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Well, we know -- I appreciate your -- I appreciate your rigor and your diplomacy.

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 response, Howell.

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.

RIMOIN: Sure.

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 facing.

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 him.

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 forward.

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. Fauci.

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 could have.

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 lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Dr. Fair?

FAIR: Yes.

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 outbreak.

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...

(CROSSTALK)

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 nationally.

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.

RAINES: Yes.

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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 president.

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 national strategy.

MELBER: Right.

RAINES: And the core of the White House -- the core of...

MELBER: Well, Howell, stay -- stay with me, Howell.

RAINES: Right.

MELBER: I'm jumping in because I want to keep viewers apprised of what's going on.

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 unprecedented crisis?

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 February?

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.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: January. February -- the entire month of February.

TRUMP: January -- I said in January.

QUESTION: Your video has a complete gap.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: On January 30...

QUESTION: What did your administration do in February with the time that your travel ban bought you?

TRUMP: A lot.

QUESTION: What?

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.

(CROSSTALK)

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.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And when you ask me that question...

QUESTION: Twenty million people are unemployed, tens of thousands of Americans dead.

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?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... cares about why Joe Biden didn't apologize to you...

(CROSSTALK)

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.

(CROSSTALK)

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 country reopened.

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 Civil War.

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 received today.

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 past it.

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 had them.

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 now.

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 did.

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 problem.

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 states.

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 professionals.

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.

TRUMP: Negotiation.

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 program.

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.

Yes?

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.

Yes, please?

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 president today.

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 had.

TRUMP: We have had very good discussions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Secretary, do you see a need for a phase four stimulus -- 

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.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see a need for a phase four, this push in lieu of another stimulus?

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 closed down.

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 they heal.

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 their advice.

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.

Please?

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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