CNN's Acosta: Trump referring to coronavirus as 'foreign virus' in Oval Office address 'smacked of xenophobia'

CNN chief White House correspondent Jim AcostaJames (Jim) AcostaDemocrats brace for battle on Biden's .5 trillion spending plan Clyburn: 'You may not need .5 trillion to do what the president wants done' Joe Rogan rips CNN over coverage of ivermectin regimen MORE argued on Wednesday night that President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE's Oval Office address to the nation "smacked of xenophobia" after the president referred to coronavirus as a "foreign virus."

"I think we should point out, at one point during this address the president referred to the coronavirus as a quote 'foreign virus,'" Acosta said on "Chris CuomoChris CuomoTucker Carlson says he lies when 'I'm really cornered or something' American describes being left behind in Kabul: 'I don't believe in anybody anymore' Chris Cuomo's revisionist history MORE Primetime" following the president's prime-time address.

"Now, why the president would go as far as to describe it as a foreign virus? That is something we’ll also be asking questions about," Acosta said. 

He suggested that White House adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerDefense & National Security: The post-airlift evacuation struggle How Trump broke the system that offers protection to Afghan allies Sunday shows preview: Bombing in Kabul delivers blow to evacuation effort; US orders strikes on ISIS-K MORE might have had a hand in the language.

"But it should be pointed out that Stephen Miller, who is an immigration hard-liner, who advises the president, is one of his top domestic policy advisers and speechwriters, was a driving force in writing this speech," Acosta continued. "And I think it is going to come across to a lot of Americans as smacking of xenophobia to use that kind of term in this speech."

Trump announced a 30-day period of travel restrictions from most of Europe during the address, though the United Kingdom and Ireland are excluded from the restrictions.


“The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hot spots,” Trump said in just his second Oval Office address. “As a result, a number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travel from Europe."

Italy has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, with the death toll jumping by 196 to 827 total in the past 24 hours.  

"This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history," the president also said.

Trump's move has come under criticism from some who say it is too late to be effective and that other steps, such as a cancellation of all large-scale events and other social-distancing measures, would work better to limit the virus's spread at this stage.

"In two weeks, we will regret wasting time and energy on travel restrictions and wish we focused more on hospital preparation and large scale community mitigation," Tom Bossert, a former Homeland Security adviser to Trump, said Thursday morning.