It appeared to be an attempt to rewrite history — his own.
It came as his White House medical experts unveiled their own death projections for the first time, revealing that they estimate the virus will kill 100,000 to 240,000 Americans at a minimum — and only if the nation practices strict social distancing.
And that’s being called the “best-case scenario.”
Trump said the prospect of 100,000 deaths was “sobering” but then went on to call it “a very low number,” compared to the 2.2. million it could have been if the U.S. did “ride it out” without mitigation efforts — as he said some of his “friends” suggested. He cast it as a success of sorts.
While the coronavirus may have silently spread across the country for the past ten weeks, president trump has insisted that the virus is “under control,” and later suggested the economic fallout will be worse than the death toll.
Trump on Tuesday defended any prior rosy assessments about the coronavirus, describing himself as a “cheerleader for the country” who wants to “give people hope.”
But all the mixed messaging has created confusion over how serious the situation really is.
Here are a few examples — side by side — of how he has contradicted himself — in his own words:
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From signaling U.S. cases ‘close to zero’ to 100K being “a very low number”
The president initially downplayed the impact the virus would have on Americans, telling CNBC on Jan. 22, two days after the first reported cases on American soil, that “it’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
From the virus will ‘disappear’ to the worst problem ‘probably ever seen’
Trump previously suggested that coronavirus cases would drop as the weather warmed up. Now he’s signaling that 100,000 deaths would be considered a victory.
From several flu comparisons to ‘it’s not the flu’
While the number of infected Americans grew exponentially, president trump repeatedly compared COVID-19 to the flu, even as health officials warned the novel virus appeared to be both more lethal and contagious. From his own packed rallies in February to just last Friday in the White House Briefing Room, the president said to “call it a flu.”
From “packed churches” on Easter to “very painful” two weeks ahead
When stocks tumbled and jobless claims broke records last week, the president urged Americans to get back to work. Even after the White House initially proposed its social distancing guidelines on March 16, trump grew more vocal that the country “wasn’t built to be shut down” — an argument he has appeared to have since dropped.
What to know about coronavirus: