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Pelosi claps back at president's 'China virus' remark by calling Covid-19 a 'Trump virus'

President was more measured during Tuesday's briefing, but again said Covid-19 will soon 'disappear'

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Wednesday 22 July 2020 15:29 BST
Nancy Pelosi rebrands coronavirus 'The Trump Virus'

Donald Trump referred to the coronavirus four times during a rather subdued and short White House briefing on the pandemic, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi soon said she has her own name for the disease.

"It is a pandemic that has gotten worse before it will get better because of his inaction, and in fact, clearly, it is the 'Trump virus'," the California Democrat told CNN after Mr Trump left the White House briefing room.

Her comments came after Mr Trump spoke to reporters for just 25 minutes, a drastically pared back version of the coronavirus briefings from this spring that sometimes pushed the two-hour mark – and caused ample political headaches for the White House when the president would get angry with reporters or make gaffes like advising Americans to inject themselves with disinfectants to kill the virus.

Mr Trump, for one evening at least, had a more measured tone about the pandemic. When a radio reporter noted he seemed to be offering a "more realistic" outlook as cases are surging in Sun Belt states, Mr Trump nodded.

"It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better," he said. "Something I don't like saying about things – but that's the way it is."

Ms Pelosi dismissed what was immediately reported on cable news and online by some outlets as the president's "new tone" and "new approach." Those reports, however, ignored his previous briefings in which he sounded more measured only to erupt in the following days.

"If he had said months ago, 'Let's wear masks, let's socially distance,' instead of having rallies and political whatever they were, then more people would have followed his lead," she said. "He's the president of the United States."

She said Mr Trump should have had a serious and measured stance all along, "instead of setting a bad example, making it like a manhood thing not to wear a mask."

Despite his one-night swerve towards something appearing traditionally presidential, Mr Trump did again repeat his view that the virus soon will "disappear."

Cases are increasing rapidly down south, with states freezing or rolling back their steps to re-open.

There are at least 3.9m coronavirus cases in the United States, and at least 141,000 deaths, according to The Johns Hopkins University. But some federal and independent experts say both figures could actually by 3 times to 12 times higher.

The president was asked pn Tuesday evening if he feels responsible for what he predicted will be a worsening situation. He opted to try sharing the blame instead, a departure from almost every modern president adopting the "buck stops here" mantra first expressed by President Harry S Truman.

"Well, the virus will disappear. It will disappear. I think that, I always like to say, as, you know, either way, when you look at it, the governors are working with me," he replied. "I'm working with the governors. We're working hand in hand. I think we're all responsible. I view it as a team. Very good relationships with the governors. Very, very good relationships.

"I could say I'm fully responsible. But, you know, one day, we had a virus come in, and I closed the borders, did a lot of things that were very good. In fact, Dr [Anthony] Fauci said we saved tens of thousands of lives when I closed the border," Mr Trump said. "And nobody wanted to do it. I wanted to do it. We closed the border to China. We put on the ban. We didn't want people coming in from heavily infected China."

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