Fox News’ Brett Baier and Martha MacCallum co-moderated a virtual town hall for President Trump on Sunday. The event was broadcast from the Lincoln Memorial where the three practiced “social distancing.” The topics ranged from when we can expect a vaccine for COVID-19 to November’s election.
Regarding a timeline for a coronavirus vaccine, Trump said he was “very confident…we’ll have a vaccine by the end of the year. We’ll have a vaccine much sooner rather than later.”
MacCallum asked if he was “concerned about the potential risks of accelerating a vaccine and human trials.” He replied, “No, because they’re volunteers. They know what they’re getting into…They want to help the process.”
Over the weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the possibility of having a vaccine by January was “doable if things fall in the right place.”
The President said he believes that the U.S. will be “self-reliant on antibiotics” within two years. Reducing our dependence on China for critical pharmaceuticals is a priority.
In a departure from a prediction he made last month, he indicated that the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could reach 100,000. “We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people.” However, he said, without his administration’s actions, “the minimum we would have lost was a million two, a million four, a million five, that’s the minimum.”
Or maybe not.
He discussed efforts to reopen the country for business and said that “each state will have a different approach to reopening their economies.”
They discussed the media storm that ensued after he touted the drug hydroxychloroquine. The President said those who have mocked him “were motivated by politics and don’t want to see a good result.”
He has never said it was a “cure” for the virus, only that preliminary studies have shown some promising results. But the media has criticized him endlessly over his remarks.
He described his feelings about the contempt with which the media treats him during the White House briefings. “I’m standing up there and instead of a normal question, the level of anger and hatred. I’ll look at them, I’ll say ‘what is your problem?'”
Baier asked him about Biden’s recent tweet which claimed Trump had left the U.S. “unprepared” for a pandemic. Trump replied, “Joe Biden didn’t write that. That was written by a young man who got very good grades at a very good school.”
Asked by MacCallum if he may have gone too far in calling for a national lockdown, he answered, “No, we did the right thing.” However, he did say, “I do look back on it.”
“A lot of people want to go back. You see demonstrations all over the country — and those are meaningful demonstrations…Now we have to get it open. We have to get it open safely, but we have to get it open as quickly as possible.”
He has lost three friends to this virus. He said, “This is a very advanced, very horrible thing we’re fighting. But, with all of that said, we’ve learned a lot about it. It affects older people… This thing is vicious. And it can take you out. But children do very well. Young children do better than teens.”
Recently, The Washington Post reported that warnings about the coronavirus were included in the President’s Daily Intelligence Briefing in early January. The intelligence community refuted this claim, saying it was not until late January that the alerts began to appear. Earlier on Sunday, he had tweeted, “Intelligence has just reported to me that I was correct, and that they did NOT bring up the CoronaVirus subject matter until late into January, just prior to my banning China from the U.S. Also, they only spoke of the Virus in a very non-threatening, or matter of fact, manner……Fake News got it wrong again, as always, and tens of thousands of lives were saved by my EARLY BAN of China into our Country. The people that were allowed were heavily scrutinized and tested U.S. citizens, and as such, I welcome them with open arms!”
Answering a viewer question about The Post’s report, the President reminded them that top Democrats, including Biden, opposed his ban on travel from China, calling him xenophobic. Trump said that “on Jan. 23, he had indeed received an intelligence report on the virus, but it indicated it wouldn’t be a major threat. Trump said intelligence materials would be released on Monday to substantiate his claim.”
A Politico article reported that “the Trump administration held a briefing on the coronavirus for senators on January 24.” It said the briefing was “sparsely attended in part because it was held on the same day as a deadline for senators to submit their impeachment questions.”
Referring to the outbreak as a plague, he assured Americans, “It’s going to pass.”