Conservative political journalist Megyn Kelly confronted former President Donald Trump over whether he regrets his approach to the COVID-19 pandemic in an interview released Tuesday.
Kelly pressed Trump over his decision to not fire then-White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci. She argued that Trump helped elevate Fauci’s profile to celebrity status, despite the fact he was “loathed” by millions of Republicans.
She then asked Trump if he would like a “do-over” on how he handled Fauci.
Trump alleged that Fauci was much more important in the Biden administration than he was in his own. He said that Fauci wanted to “let everyone come in from China,” a move that Trump claims to have prevented. Trump then conceded that Fauci was “respected” in his field, but lost a lot of his public esteem due to his actions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former president defended his approach to the pandemic, saying that he “let the governors run their states.” He said that he took a “federalist” approach in allowing states to decide how open or closed they wanted to remain.
“I allowed the governors to do that. I also allowed Democrat governors to do that. But, I don’t think any of them, none of them did it,” Trump said.
Kelly pressed him further on whether he wishes he took a more aggressive stance against Fauci.
“Wouldn’t you like to go back and try to clip his wings? This guy was pushing mask mandates on us. He wanted the most extreme measure at every turn,” Kelly said.
Trump took shots at his rival Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying that he had praised Fauci and pushed vaccination on the citizens of his state. He favorably compared South Dakota, Tennessee and South Carolina to Florida, arguing the first three never shut down. Florida shut down for a month in the midst of the pandemic in April 2020.
“There are states that didn’t shut down at all,” Trump said.
“He should say ‘I closed it down. Eventually we opened it. But, I closed it down. But, I gave him the right to keep it open if he wanted to.’ I let the governors make the determination as to whether or not to close it down,” Trump continued.
Kelly then changed the subject to “Operation Warp Speed,”—which she claims caused vaccine injury for many unfortunate individuals— and his White House’s support of mask mandates, asking if he would “like a do-over” on them.
Trump responded by saying “nobody knew” the best way to approach COVID, because of the high levels of uncertainty surrounding the virus when it started spreading around the world.
“Now, we do understand it somewhat,” Trump said, “Nobody really understands it even now, fully. But nobody knew what COVID was.”
The former president defended his approach to the vaccine, saying that he never supported mandates. However, he said that the vaccine potentially saved millions of lives.
“I didn’t demand anybody take it,” Trump said.
Trump claims that some people, including liberals, told him he “saved 100 million people” because he “got it done in nine months as opposed to five years to 12 Years.”
Kelly conceded that the vaccine had some positive impacts, but vaccine-injured people are “mad that they were rushed through and that they can’t sue.”
Fauci has proven to be a deeply polarizing figure. A January poll revealed that a majority of Americans wanted Fauci investigated for his “inconsistent testimony” about his research prior to COVID-19 and his handling of it. Schools and universities across the country have started to bring back mask mandates, despite polling that shows a plurality of parents believe the mandates have harmed their children’s education.