The was-he-kidding debate continues, this time with input from President Trump himself as well as Dr. Anthony Fauci. The controversy stems from Trump's weekend rally in Tulsa and comments the president made during it about coronavirus testing. “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people,” he said, per Politico. “You’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.'" (See the video here.) Afterward, White House officials including press chief Kayleigh McEnany and trade adviser Peter Navarro said Trump was kidding about asking his staff to slow testing. VP Mike Pence also downplayed the remarks. But on Tuesday, Trump appeared to contradict them when asked whether he was, in fact, kidding, reports the Hill.
- "I don't kid, let me just tell you, let me make it clear," Trump told a reporter on the White House lawn, per CNN. He reiterated that he thought increased testing was a "double-edge sword."
- But wait: Later Tuesday, Fauci and three other top health officials told a House panel that Trump never made such a request, reports the Washington Post. “I know for sure none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing. That is just a fact,” Fauci said. “In fact, we will be doing more testing.”
- What Fauci said is in line with what Trump said Monday in an interview with CBN. "Just to clear up, there wasn't a direct order, if you will, to staff, to stop the testing," asked the interviewer. "No," said Trump. "But I think we put ourselves at a disadvantage."
- In the same interview, when asked if the slow-down remarks were "tongue-in-cheek," Trump said, "No. It's semi tongue-in-cheek. I say it all the time. I know some people thought it was tongue-in-cheek. It's unfair. We're doing so much testing, so much more than any other country."
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