Trump appeared to confirm revelations on Tuesday that the coronavirus task force would start ending around Memorial Day at the end of the month.
But on Wednesday, reflecting the often erratic nature of his leadership in coronavirus and his sensitivity to press criticism, Trump appeared to contradict himself, writing on Twitter that the task force would continue “indefinitely” and that people could be added to it. or subtracted.
Officials said on Tuesday that advisers like Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx would remain on board. But closing the task force would make experts whose scientific arguments sometimes contradict Trump’s overly optimistic projections much less visible.
The dissolution of the task force would also raise questions about the administration’s priorities in effectively declaring victory over a pandemic that appears to be raging for several more months.
“We are now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is security and openness, and we will likely have a different group set up for that,” Trump told CNN’s Jim Acosta.
Trump has almost recognized that he is reconciled to the deaths that epidemiologists say are the result of a premature effort to open up the economy.
Asked by ABC if the opening price will be more dead, Trump replied, “It is possible there may be, because you will not be locked in an apartment or house or anything. The president called on the Americans to maintain social estrangement and hand washing, but said home orders were also detrimental to national well-being.
The president was speaking to Arizona on a symbolic first trip outside the White House in weeks, intended to send a strong signal that now is the time to talk about returns.
“We must recover our country. You know, people die the other way too. When you look at what happened with the drugs, it goes up. When you look at suicides, I mean, look at what’s going on. “People are losing their jobs – we have to bring it back, and that’s what we do. “
The White House has already taken a leap forward in trying to impose artificial delays on the virus. Take Trump’s desire to see full benches in churches at Easter, for example.
But even talking about devaluing the importance of the task force reflects the impulses of a president who seems just to be impatient in the dark reality of the worst internal crisis since World War II – especially since the break of his sessions. of information.
No one doubts the cataclysmic impact of home stay orders on the economy – or the need to somehow find a way to get back to everyday life, even in a reduced form. And hopefully a flurry of openings in most states will not bring the spike in infections and deaths feared by experts.
The need to provide relief to 30 million Americans who have lost their jobs due to the economic downturn could not be more urgent.
White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett predicted Tuesday on CNN that unemployment figures expected on Friday could reach Great Depression figures from 19% to 20%.
“So we’re probably looking at the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression,” he told Poppy Harlow.
Dangers of a sloppy opening
In these circumstances, the nation is faced with a deprivation of historic proportions which must necessarily trigger a national debate on the question of whether the closures can be maintained at such a cost.
But Trump’s White House is showing signs of moving towards openness in exactly the same, politically polarizing way it used earlier this year, when the president was in denial of the problem.
The stake is much higher than the political career of the president and his democratic enemy, Joe Biden, in an election that now appears to be an almost secondary national concern.
A sloppy opening could plunge the country into even deeper economic turmoil and provide the virus with a new basis for deadly waves of infection later in the year in the absence of a vaccine and proven therapies to date .
The administrative effort has been widely criticized. This is despite Trump’s assertion that the response was overwhelmingly successful and his victory died out over an entry ban on foreign nationals who were recently in China and his claim to have avoided a dreaded shortage of fans.
But signs that he is curtailing his efforts to fight the virus have dismayed the Democratic governor of one of the hardest-hit states, Ned Lamont, of Connecticut.
“It seems a little strange that just a few days ago the president was at the Lincoln Memorial, doubling the estimates of the number of people who were going to die, given the Covid crisis, then a day later we were saying that we could “Pence task force,” Lamont told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“It makes no sense to me. I think we need a more federal orientation. “
And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo accused the White House in an interview with CNN on Tuesday of wanting the crisis to end because it was a “drawback.”
“They went to great lengths at first to minimize it. It has become undeniable. They treated it and left it to the states, “Cuomo told his brother Chris Cuomo, a CNN presenter.
“But they want it to be over. It’s clear. But the virus doesn’t care. The virus is not listening. This is not a marketing situation. You can’t get out of it. This virus is there. “
Lamont’s comments reflected that the backbone of the Trump administration, although it may make sense for short-term economic reasons, seems to ignore the brutal reality of the evolution of the pandemic.
Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore city health commissioner, told Blitzer that the idea of ending the coronavirus task force was “mind-boggling.”
“We see cases of a number of infections going in exactly the wrong direction. They’re increasing, and we don’t have the capabilities we need, testing, tracking, all of these efforts that require a coordinated national presence, “said Wen.
“We don’t have that in place. And the last thing we want to do is give the American people the idea that we have the virus under control, when in reality nothing about the virus has changed. “
Trump in new takeover to foil surveillance
Trump’s stimulus rhetoric is accompanied by an increasingly aggressive White House effort to cover up the federal government’s erratic response to the pandemic and the President’s own mistakes at the start of the crisis, and to thwart efforts surveillance of the Democrats to reveal the failures of the administration.
Trump and his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, accuse China of the pandemic, despite the president’s repeated praise for President Xi Jinping in his early days.
They are making an attempt to convince the world that the virus emerged from a laboratory – not a live animal market in Wuhan – even if the information may not support their predetermined political accounts.
Echoing his position during the saga of the dismissal, the president effectively proceeded on Tuesday to a new takeover, clearly indicating that he will only accept surveillance led by friendly Republicans of the Senate, flouting the traditional role of the Congress.
“The House is a group of haters of Trump,” said the president, calling the constitutionally mandated surveillance “a configuration.”
Congress has many questions to consider. This includes the administration’s failure to set up a full test and trace operation to suppress coronavirus hotspots. Trump’s misinformation says the coronavirus was not a threat, and his obsequious treatment of Xi will also be of interest to investigators. And the role of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his dark efforts to conduct pandemic operations will attract the attention of Democrats.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the unemployment figures predicted by Kevin Hassett. It has also been updated to include additional comments from Trump.