Trump won't say if he disagrees with Birx that virus is widespread

Trump won't say if he disagrees with Birx that virus is widespread
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE on Monday declined to say whether he disagreed with Deborah BirxDeborah BirxAtlas contradicts Redfield on population susceptibility to coronavirus Controversial CDC guidelines were written by HHS officials, not scientists: report Trump coronavirus adviser threatens to sue Stanford researchers MORE's characterization that the coronavirus is widespread across the United States, hours after he complained that she "took the bait" in responding to criticism from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Will Democrats attempt to pack the Supreme Court again? MORE (D-Calif.).

The president was asked to elaborate on his tweet earlier in the day in which he publicly criticized Birx, the coordinator of the White House's coronavirus response, for the first time.

He did not directly answer, instead touting his administration's handling of the pandemic.

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"Well, I think we’re doing very well, and I think that we have done as well as any nation," Trump said.

The U.S. has by far the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 4.6 million and the most reported deaths at more than 155,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

"I think we’re doing very well," Trump added. "I told Dr. Birx I think we’re doing very well. She was in my office a little while ago. She’s a person I have a lot of respect for. I think Nancy Pelosi has treated her very badly — very, very badly. Very nasty."

He added that he felt people should focus more on the way the U.S. has ramped up ventilator production or the sheer volume of tests it has conducted, which outpaces other countries.

Trump did not respond when a reporter followed up to ask if that meant he disagreed with Birx's characterization.

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The president earlier Monday suggested Birx was hurting him after she bluntly acknowledged in a television interview over the weekend that the pandemic is widespread across the United States.

“So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics,” Trump tweeted. “In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!”

Politico reported last week that Pelosi criticized Birx during a closed-door meeting on stimulus negotiations with White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election White House chief of staff knocks FBI director over testimony on election fraud Anxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinCentrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline MORE. Asked Sunday about that criticism during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Pelosi reiterated that she did not have confidence in Birx.

Birx, a retired Army colonel, was appointed by former President Obama to serve as the State Department’s global AIDS coordinator. She was tapped by Vice President Pence to serve as the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force in late February and has been working out of the White House since. 

“I have tremendous respect for the Speaker. And I have tremendous respect for her long dedication to the American people,” Birx said Sunday on CNN when asked about Pelosi’s comments, defending her data-driven approach to the pandemic.

Birx also delivered a sober warning of the current threat posed by the coronavirus, saying the United States had entered a “new phase” in its battle against the virus and calling it “extraordinarily widespread.” 

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. ... It’s more widespread, and it’s both rural and urban,” Birx said on CNN.