Members of President Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force said Tuesday he never asked them to slow down testing, contradicting Trump’s statements from his Saturday rally.
The comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, CDC Director Robert Redfield and Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir came during a House Coronavirus oversight hearing.
“Has President Trump ever directed you to slow down testing for COVID-19 in the United States?” asked Republican Oregon Rep. Greg Walden.
“No,” said Dr. Redfield.
“No,” replied Hahn.
“No,” responded Giroir.
“To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing. That just is a fact,” Fauci responded to an earlier question on the issue. (RELATED: Top WHO Official Won Election With China’s Help)
Trump initially said during his Saturday rally in Oklahoma that he’d asked admin officials to slow down testing to keep coronavirus case numbers low. WH Adviser Peter Navarro then claimed on Sunday that Trump’s comments were a joke, which Trump then contradicted on Tuesday saying, “I don’t kid.” Now, the COVID-19 task force says they never received such an order from Trump.
“You know, testing is a double-edged sword. Here’s the bad part … when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people — you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down please,” Trump had said on Saturday night.
A lack of testing was among the central criticisms from the media and Democrats of Trump’s early handling of the pandemic. The White House argued the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) testing roll out had been hampered by an Obama-era regulation which it then removed.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on who Trump spoke to about slowing down testing.