CNN host Chris Cuomo accused President Donald Trump of lying to the American public in February about the COVID-19 threat because Trump only wanted to tell “people what they wanted to hear.”
“Cuomo PrimeTime” aired a clip from Tuesday’s coronavirus news briefing during which the president, when asked why he spoke positively about removing the coronavirus from the United States in late February, said he wanted to be a “cheerleader” for the nation and not cause panic.
In the clip, a reporter quoted Trump as saying, “Within a couple of days, the cases will be down to zero.”
“The cases really didn’t build up for a while,” the president responded.
“But you have to understand, I’m a cheerleader for this country,” Trump said. “I don’t want to create havoc and shock and everything else. … I’m not going to go out and start screaming, ‘This could happen, this could happen.'”
Cuomo called Trump’s decision not to raise a red flag at that time a failure of leadership and said his response to the reporter Tuesday was “asinine.”
WARNING: The following videos contain vulgar language that some viewers may find offensive.
“That was the most asinine statement of leadership I have ever heard.”@ChrisCuomo responds to President Trump downplaying the dangers of coronavirus while calling himself a “cheerleader for this country.” pic.twitter.com/tdEujx39Tb
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) April 8, 2020
“That’s exactly what leadership is,” the CNN personality said. “Anybody can tell people what they want to hear, and make it easy. And then you know what you get? Exactly where we are right now.”
Cuomo added, “That is clear thinking from him. ‘I’m a cheerleader, so I’m going to lie to you about the realities that your parents, your loved ones and your kids face. I’m not going to prepare the way I should because it reinforces the bulls— I’m telling you, and I’m going to hope that you’re OK with it.'”
As noted by The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra, Cuomo cut off Trump’s response mid-sentence, before he discussed shutting down travel from China and later Europe.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo deceptively edited this clip to make it look like Trump said that he didn’t take action on the coronavirus because he didn’t want to upset people
After the CNN clip, Trump’s full remarks play which show Trump talking about the action he took
Cuomo cut that out pic.twitter.com/9cwgPvhj1u
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 8, 2020
The next words out of the president’s mouth were, “but ultimately, when I was saying that [about getting the COVID-19 cases to zero], I’m also closing it down. I obviously was concerned about it because I closed down our country to China, which was heavily infected.”
Trump next pointed out he made that decision despite it being opposed by the World Health Organization and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who called the move “xenophobic.”
“Now, since then, Joe said that he was wrong, and he said that I was right,” the president recounted. “But I closed it down, and I was called names by some of the morning show hosts who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.”
While he was shutting down travel from other countries, Trump said he did not think it was his role at that time to “start screaming, ‘This could happen. This could happen,'” regarding a possible pandemic breaking out in the U.S.
“So, again, as president, I think a president has to be a cheerleader for their country,” he reiterated. “But at the same time I’m cheerleading, I’m also closing down a very highly infected place, specifically the location, as you know, in China that had the problems.”
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