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) AcostaSpicer mocks Pelosi claim of CNN being GOP 'apologists': 'Had no idea I had Wolf Blitzer in my pocket' Jim Acosta responds to pro-Trump crowd chanting 'CNN sucks' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump eager to leave the hospital MORE argued on Wednesday night that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven 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 CuomoTrump aide accuses CNN's Chris Cuomo of breaking quarantine while COVID-19 positive in heated interview Last hurrah for the establishment media CNN's Lemon: Asking Biden, Harris about 'hypothetical' court packing 'not a legitimate question' 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 MillerMcEnany appears on Fox in 'personal capacity' as Trump campaign adviser Documents show Trump campaign ignored coronavirus guidelines at Duluth rally: report House Democrats ask DHS to consider flu vaccinations for immigration detainees 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.