CNN's Brianna Keilar, Admiral Giroir spar over Trump administration's COVID-19 response

CNN host Brianna Keilar sparred Friday with Adm. Brett Giroir, former President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Biden's Supreme Court reform study panel notes 'considerable' risks to court expansion Bennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump MORE’s coronavirus testing czar, over the previous administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

During an appearance on CNN’s “New Day,” Keilar asked Giroir to respond to former White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamGrisham thinks Trump will run in 2024 and have no 'guardrails' Sunday shows preview: Senate votes to raise debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower blasts company during testimony CNN's Brianna Keilar, Admiral Giroir spar over Trump administration's COVID-19 response MORE saying that her "enabling" Trump cost lives during the pandemic.

“I think the way we handled COVID was tragic. I think that the president's vanity got in the way,” Grisham said in an interview touting her new book. “I was part of that, and I don't think I'll ever forgive myself with respect to COVID. I don't think I can ever redeem myself.”

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Asked about the comments, Giroir said Friday that everyone working on White House coronavirus task force was focused on public health.

“I can just tell you from my point of view, from the task force, we let science lead. We did our best, with an unknown virus, and I'll leave it at that,” he said.

“But you were in a room with people who did not put public health first,” Keilar responded. “Do you think that’s fair to say?

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“I don't think it's fair to say,” Giroir said.

“You think the president put public health first?” Keilar interrupted. “Donald Trump” 

Giroir said that Trump was “very active” in the task force until mid-summer and did the things that public health officials advised. Keilar then brought up Trump’s aggressive push of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

Giroir then conceded that there were issues that could have been handled better, like mask-wearing inside the White House.

“I would say overall, the president was supportive of public health measures but we actually could have done better with mask-wearing, and there are a few other issues that we certainly wish would have gone different ways,” Giroir said.

Keilar then noted that Grisham was speaking to the larger issue of Trump’s messaging around the pandemic, not the advice given from public health officials.

“She’s saying that it costs lives. Do you disagree with her?" Keilar said. “That's her assessment.”  

“I don't know what medical school or public health school that Stephanie went to, she certainly wasn't on the task force or involved,” Giroir said. “I can tell you that the task force, particularly under the vice president, always gave what we believe was the best public health information.”