US President Donald Trump had his biggest meltdown ever since he came into power. From playing old media clips to saying that he has total authority to reopen the US, Trump's press briefing was nothing short of a high-voltage drama.
Bombarded with questions and doubts about his failure to manage the rapid increase of coronavirus cases in the US as a president, an irked Trump refused to take any responsibility. "Everything we did was right," Trump exhorted after his government's moves to contain the pandemic was questioned.
Emerging as a new epicentre of the global pandemic COVID-19, US has recorded the highest number of deaths and cases with over 23,000 people dead and more than 587,000 infected.
Trump downplays the role of governors, says he has total authority
A strong advocate of relaxing social distancing norms, Trump made it clear on Monday that he has total authority to overrule governors and state governments who wanted to keep shops, schools, restaurants and public places shut.
Implying that the decision of when to reopen the country and the economy is solely the President's prerogative, Trump said: "When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total. And that's the way it's gotta be. It's total," he said even as he failed to come with a legal justification.
Trump later took on to Twitter: "For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect."
"It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly," he added.
Trump confirms not firing Fauci
A day after Trump retweeted former congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine tweet with a hashtag #FireFauci, Trump said all was well between him and Dr. Anthony Fauci. On Sunday, during an interview with CNN's, State of the Union, Fauci had said that 'the federal government could have saved more lives if social distancing measures would have been put in place sooner.'
Clearing the air about his comments during the Monday's press briefing, Fauci said: "I had an interview yesterday that I was asked a hypothetical question and hypothetical questions can sometimes get you into some difficulty. I gave the obvious answer that mitigation helps. That was taken as a way that maybe somehow something was at fault here,' Fauci said adding that he told the President twice about recommending social distance measures.
"At that time, the president went with the health recommendations and we extended it another 30 days," he said. Before making way for the President on the podium Fauci signed off saying: "Some people may think it's going to be like a light switch. It's just not going to be that way." Downplaying the hysteria caused by his retweet, Trump said: "I was immediately called upon that and I said 'I like him. He is terrific."
On being questioned about noticing #FireFauci hashtag in his retweet, Trump while calling it 'somebody's opinion' said: "I notice everything. That's somebody's opinion. I'm not firing him. Not everybody's happy with Anthony. Not everybody's happy with — everybody."
Trump vents out his anger on media
Instead of taking the blame for not taking the coronavirus threat seriously in January, Trump blamed the media for downplaying the grim scenario, by playing a compilation of news clips since January from various media houses.
Upon being asked who complied the clip, which ironically was accompanied by dramatic background music, for him, Trump said: "That was done by a group in the office and it was done by ... we just put some clips together,' Trump explained. 'I could give you, I'll bet you I have 100 more clips. They were just pieced together over the last two hours.".
Calling Paula Reid of CBS, disgraceful and fake after she questioned his government's slow coronavirus response. "You are so disgraceful. You know you're a fake," a raging Trump shouted into the mike. "You know you're a fake, your whole network the way you cover it is fake ... That's why you have a lower approval rating than probably you've ever had before times three," he went on.
Reacting sharply to the story, headlined 'He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump's Failure on the Virus,' published a day ago in the New York Times, Trump called the publication fake. "It is a total fake, it's a fake newspaper and they write fake stories. And someday, hopefully, in five years when I'm not here, those papers are all going out of business because nobody's going to read them,' Trump said.