Trump lashes out at New York Times over report on coronavirus response
President Trump lashed out at The New York Times over a story it published on Saturday that reported Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar repeatedly warned the president of the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak weeks before his administration began to crack down in its response to the threat.
Trump denied the story in a Sunday night tweet, claiming it was “fake news” and that Azar told him “nothing” until after his office rolled out travel restrictions from China.
“The @nytimes story is a Fake, just like the ‘paper’ itself. I was criticized for moving too fast when I issued the China Ban, long before most others wanted to do so,” he tweeted.
“@SecAzar told me nothing until later, and Peter Navarro memo was same as Ban (see his statements). Fake News!” he added, referring to the Times’s reporting that White House trade adviser Peter Navarro had warned Trump of the possible consequences of an outbreak in a memo on Jan. 29.
The @nytimes story is a Fake, just like the “paper” itself. I was criticized for moving too fast when I issued the China Ban, long before most others wanted to do so. @SecAzar told me nothing until later, and Peter Navarro memo was same as Ban (see his statements). Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2020
In the memo, Navarro also reportedly urged the president to place restrictions on travel from China. The day the memo was circulated was also the same day reports surfaced that the Trump administration was considering a ban on travel between the two nations, which was shortly before the administration banned foreign nationals who had traveled in China from entering the U.S. due to concerns about the novel coronavirus.
At the time, Trump had also been facing criticism for brushing off concerns about a potential outbreak in the U.S. and maintained that the situation was “under control.”
When asked about Navarro’s memos at a press briefing earlier this month, Trump denied seeing the memos and added that he doubted his response to the issue would have been any different had he seen them then.
“I don’t think it would’ve changed it, because I basically did what the memo said,” Trump said then.
His criticism of the Times on late Sunday comes just hours after he lashed out at Fox News anchor Chris Wallace on Twitter and called the host “Mike Wallace wannabe,” referring to Wallace’s late father, over his coverage.