President Donald Trump unloaded Sunday on CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang, telling her at one point to “keep your voice down.”
Jiang pressed the president several times on the response to the coronavirus pandemic as it spread to the United States. (RELATED: ‘I’m Going To Leave’: Trump Calls Brian Karem A ‘Showboat,’ Threatens To Walk Out Of Coronavirus Briefing)
“I have a question about something you said Thursday,” Jiang began, referencing Trump’s comments about the World Health Organization. “You were angry because information about the virus should have been told to us earlier and sooner. People knew it was coming and people did not want to talk about it. Many Americans are saying the same thing about you, you should have warned them the virus was spreading like wildfire through February instead of holding rallies with thousands of people. Why did you not have social distancing until March 16?”
“Who are you?” Trump asked.
“I am Weijia Jiang with CBS News,” Jiang replied.
“If you look at what I did in terms of cutting off or banning China from coming in —” Trump continued.
Jiang interrupted: “Chinese nationals. But by the way, not Americans who were also coming from China —”
“Just relax. We cut it off,” Trump interrupted. “People were amazed. Everybody was amazed that I did it. 21 people in the room, everybody was against it but me. Dr. Fauci said, had I not done that, perhaps tens of thousands, may much more than that, people would have died.”
Trump went on to note that, as Fox News anchor Bret Baier had reported, coronavirus was not even mentioned at the Democratic primary debate that was held in Las Vegas in February.
“And by the way, when you issued the ban, the virus was already here,” Jiang protested.
“You know how many people when I issued the ban — how many cases of virus were in the United States? Do you know the number?” Trump asked then, and Jiang started to respond but Trump kept talking. “Remember I said one person. How many cases were here when I issued the ban? You have to do your research.”
“I did my research. On the 23rd of March, you said you knew this was going to be a pandemic,” Jiang pressed again.
“I did know it. Anybody knew it. Are you ready? How many cases were in the United States when I did my ban? How many people had died in the United States?” Trump asked.
“Did you acknowledge that you didn’t think it was going to spread —” Jiang tried another tack.
“Keep your voice down. How many people — I did a ban where I am closing the country. How many people died? How many people died in the United States? Yet I closed up the country and I believe there were no deaths, zero deaths, at the time I closed up the country,” Trump concluded, adding, “You should say, thank you for good judgment.”
Trump issued a ban on travel from China — with exceptions for American citizens abroad — on January 31. The first official coronavirus-related death in the United States was recorded in Washington state on February 29.