Despite the vice president’s claim, Trump downplayed the virus for weeks, saying he had it under control even when he didn’t.
Mike Pence on Wednesday tried to rewrite history when he said Donald Trump never “belittled” the threat of the novel coronavirus, despite ample evidence showing Trump doing just that.
“I don’t believe the president has ever belittled the threat of the coronavirus,” Pence said on CNN, disputing the characterization from anchor Wolf Blitzer that Trump didn’t take the virus seriously early on.
Blitzer was pointing to comments from the White House daily briefing on Tuesday, when Trump admitted that he downplayed the virus early on because he wanted to be optimistic but has since realized the threat.
“I knew everything. I knew it could be horrible, I knew it could be maybe good,” Trump said at a news conference at the White House. “I don’t want to be a negative person.”
Trump has downplayed the virus in numerous ways.
In January, he said that the virus wouldn’t spread in the United States even while experts were warning otherwise.
In February, Trump said — without evidence — that the virus would just go away in April without any measures taken.
And in March, he downplayed how bad the virus itself was for people who contracted it, comparing it to the flu and suggesting that strict social distancing measures were unnecessary.
Here are 19 times Trump downplayed — or “belittled” — the virus and the threat it posed.
Jan. 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine,” Trump said in an interview with CNBC.
Jan. 30: “Working closely with China and others on Coronavirus outbreak. Only 5 people in U.S., all in good recovery,” Trump tweeted.
Feb. 7: Trump tweeted that, “as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.”
Feb. 10: “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April,” Trump said at a White House event with governors.
Feb. 10: “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away,” Trump said at a campaign rally in New Hampshire.
Feb. 19: “I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus. So let’s see what happens, but I think it’s going to work out fine,” Trump said in an interview with a local Fox News affiliate in Arizona.
Feb. 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” Trump tweeted.
Feb. 26: “When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done,” Trump said at a White House news conference.
Feb. 27: “Congratulations and thank you to our great Vice President & all of the many professionals doing such a fine job at CDC & all other agencies on the Coronavirus situation. Only a very small number in U.S., & China numbers look to be going down. All countries working well together!” Trump tweeted.
Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” Trump said at a White House news conference.
Feb. 28: “The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. This is their new hoax,” Trump said at a campaign rally in South Carolina.
March 4: “Some people will have this at a very light level and won’t even go to a doctor or hospital, and they’ll get better. There are many people like that,” Trump said at a briefing with the CEOs of some of the country’s major airlines.
March 5: “With approximately 100,000 CoronaVirus cases worldwide, and 3,280 deaths, the United States, because of quick action on closing our borders, has, as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!” Trump tweeted.
March 9: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, ‘The risk is low to the average American.'” Trump tweeted.
March 9: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!” Trump tweeted.
March 10: “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away,” Trump said at a briefing with Republican senators.
March 23: “America will again, and soon, be open for business — very soon — a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. A lot sooner. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem,” Trump said at a White House news conference.
March 24: “I’d love to have it open by Easter, I would love to have it open by Easter, I will tell you that right now. I would love to have that,” Trump said at a Fox News town hall.
March 24: “We’ve never closed down the country for the flu. So you say to yourself, ‘What is this all about?’ ” Trump said at the Fox News town hall, again wrongly comparing COVID-19 to the flu.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.