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) AcostaHillicon Valley: Justice Department announces superseding indictment against WikiLeaks' Assange | Facebook ad boycott gains momentum | FBI sees spike in coronavirus-related cyber threats | Boston city government bans facial recognition technology Twitter permanently suspends account behind doctored video shared by Trump Twitter disables video in Trump tweet featuring fake CNN chyron MORE argued on Wednesday night that President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Tucker Carlson ratchets up criticism of Duckworth, calls her a 'coward' Trump on Confederate flag: 'It's freedom of speech' 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 CuomoChristopher (Chris) Charles CuomoTrump dings CNN, 'Morning Joe' ratings as Tucker Carlson sets record CNN's Chris Cuomo lauds brother in panned interview: 'You're both awful' Ken Burns: 'Confederate monuments have to go' 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 MillerIn DACA ruling, Supreme Court ignores Trump's racial bias The Memo: Trump's Tulsa decision sparks new race controversy George Conway group targets Trump over 'blatant racism' in new ad 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.