President Trump on Monday used the White House briefing room to lash out at critics of his response to the coronavirus outbreak, rattling off a litany of grievances about press coverage and airing a reel of cable news footage that portrayed his actions in a positive light.
The president sought to use a briefing ostensibly intended to inform the American public about the latest developments in the battle against the virus to frame his handling of the pandemic as a success. He bristled at any criticism and picking a fight with journalists in the room before experts delivered any update on the disease that has killed more than 22,000 people in the U.S…
Defensive and combative, Trump repeatedly highlighted his decision to restrict travel from China in late January before there were any virus-related deaths confirmed in the U.S., arguing he did so sooner than many experts and lawmakers suggested was necessary. He returned to the travel restrictions several times as reporters sought to ask about what steps his administration took between that order and instituting social distancing guidelines more than a month later, a period during which the number of cases grew.
Trump then aired roughly three minutes of footage that resembled a campaign ad on screens set up behind the podium. The video featured clips of cable news doctors saying in January that the coronavirus did not represent an imminent threat to the U.S., Trump announcing measures such as expanded telehealth options and a national emergency, and Democratic governors thanking the president for offering federal assistance to states responding to the virus.
Asked where the video came from, Trump said it was produced in the White House in the hours before the briefing.
The admission of the apparent blurring of White House business with campaign promotion promptly drew the attention of ethics watchdogs.
“So our tax dollars and the presidential mansion we own are now being used to broadcast campaign ads?” tweeted Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics…..