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GOP senator: Trump should let health care professionals 'guide' coronavirus response

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOn The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Manchin on infrastructure: 'We're gonna find a bipartisan pathway forward' MORE (R-W.Va.) said on Monday that President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE should let health care officials within the administration take the lead on the response to the coronavirus.

Capito told reporters that she thought it was "important" that Trump speak to the American public but that there needed to be a "consistent message."

"I think he probably would be better served, and maybe others would, when it's not used as the press conference for everything else, I think. I think he should ... let the health professionals guide where we're gonna go, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx," she said, referring to Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci says school should be open 'full blast' five days a week in the fall Watch live: White House holds briefing with COVID-19 response team The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Colonial pays hackers as service is restored MORE, the nation's top infectious disease expert, and coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx.

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The two routinely appear at the daily coronavirus press conferences, where Trump and other administration officials field questions and provide an update on the status of the epidemic which has caused 9,683 deaths within the United States as of Monday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Capito said the briefings can go "off the rails a little bit" as a reflection of "the way the president conducts business."

Trump used part of Saturday's briefing to tear into Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson after announcing Friday night that he had fired the watchdog who handled the whistleblower complaint at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

He also sometimes gives answers during the briefings that appear to counter his own health officials, including announcing new recommendations on face masks last week but noting he will not wear one.

Capito acknowledged that Trump sometimes gives "aspirational dates" for when the country could lift some of the restrictions on social distancing and other measures implemented to combat the coronavirus. Trump had initially set Easter as the goal for reopening large sectors of the economy, but walked back from the rapidly approaching deadline amid push back from lawmakers and his own health care experts.

"He does set aspirational dates, but I think we all want to be hopeful that someday, this is all going to return to some kind of normal behavior, so I don't have a problem with him speaking optimistically," she said.