Senate

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

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said on Monday that President Trump 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 Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx.

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.

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus Donald Trump Shelley Moore Capito White House press briefings

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