David Muir Questions Trump on Early Covid-19 Assessments: ‘Was It an Intelligence Failure?’


ABC News’ David Muir pressed President Donald Trump during their big interview Tuesday about early U.S. assessments on the coronavirus and what the president himself was saying at the time.

“People will look back, and we have an election six months from now, they’re gonna look back to the beginning of this, and they’re gonna wonder what you knew and when you knew it,” Muir said, “and I have no interest in going back over everything you said. But there was one thing you said that perhaps you could clarify. You said this — this was at the end of February, a full month had gone by, you’d stopedp travel from China, and you said up the cases here in the U.S., ‘When you have 15 people and when the 15 within a couple of days is going to go down to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.’ Help me understand that moment. Did you really think we were going to have 15 cases in the U.S.?”

“There was a time when we had one person in this country. We knew about it. We worked on it. But we have one person, it mushroomed, the 15 people, mushroomed. Other people were coming in, also from Europe,” the president responded.

“But we’re at more than a million cases now,” Muir noted.

“Because we have more testing than anybody else,” Trump responded, touting the level of testing in the U.S. thus far.

Muir pressed, “There’s a huge disparity between 15 and more than a million cases. What — was it an intelligence failure? Where was the breakdown that we didn’t know the scope of this?”

Trump brought up the China travel ban before saying more generally, “I want to be optimistic. I don’t want to be Mr. Gloom and Doom. It’s a very bad subject. I’m not looking to tell the American people when nobody really knows what’s happening yet, ‘Oh, this is going to be so tragic.’ I want to be — aside from everything else, and I’m going to use a term, and some people love it, and some people hate it, but I love it — I want to be a cheerleader for our country.”

Muir also asked what he would say to families of all those who have lost loved ones to the coronavirus.

“I want to say I love you. I want to say that we’re doing everything we can. I also want to say that we’re trying to project people over 60 years old,” Trump said. “We’re trying so hard.”

You can watch above, via ABC News.

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac