What Trump Continues to Say (About the Plague)

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

In three previous pieces in CounterPunch I compiled Donald Trump’s statements on the COVID-19 pandemic up to May 2nd-3rd. Here is a continuation of that list.

Rather than place Trump’s statements in strict chronological order, I have sometimes put 2 or more of statements from different days together, to highlight Trump’s contradictions and subsequent deviations– these are prefaced by an asterisk. I have retained Trump’s numerous linguistic infelicities.

May 19 — (responding to doctors warning about possible adverse side-effects of hydroxychloroquine, which Trump says he’s taking) “If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape. They were very old. Almost dead. It was a Trump enemy statement.”

May 19 – (responding to Nancy Pelosi calling him “morbidly obese”) “Pelosi is a sick woman. She’s got a lot of problems, a lot of mental problems.”

May 19 – (responding to a question from a female reporter who asked him why he has yet to announce a plan that would get the millions of Americans now seeking unemployment aid back to work) “Just a rude person you are… that’s enough of you.”

May 20 – “Some wacko in China just released a statement blaming everybody other than China for the Virus which has now killed hundreds of thousands of people. Please explain to this dope that it was the “incompetence of China”, and nothing else, that did this mass Worldwide killing!”

May 20 – (when asked how US testing compares with other countries on a per capita basis) “You know, when you say “per capita”, there’s many per capitas. It’s, like per capita relative to what? But you can look at just about any category, and we’re really at the top, meaning on a per capita basis too.”

May 21 – “We’re going after Virginia, with your crazy governor, we’re going after Virginia. They want to take your Second Amendment. You know that, right? You’ll have nobody guarding your potatoes.”

May 21 – “We are opening our churches again. I think the CDC is going to put something out very soon, spoke to them today. I think they are going to put something out very soon. We got to open our churches.”

*May 22 – “Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics essential, but have left out churches … it’s not right. So I am correcting this injustice and am calling houses of worship essential. If they do not do it I will override the governors.”

May 21 – (on being tested for COVID-19) “I tested very positively in another sense. I tested positively toward negative. I tested perfectly this morning, meaning I tested negative.”

May 24 – (when asked about a Columbia University report which showed that thousands of lives could have been spared if the lockdown had been introduced earlier) “Columbia is a liberal, disgraceful institution to write that because all the people that they cater to were months after me [alluding to his January travel ban on foreign nationals from China]. It’s a disgrace that Columbia University would do it, playing right to their little group of people that tell them what to do.”

May 24 – “Schools in our country should be opened ASAP. Much very good information now available.”

May 24 – “Some stories about the fact that in order to get outside and perhaps, even a little exercise, I played golf over the weekend. The Fake & Totally Corrupt News makes it sound like a mortal sin – I knew this would happen! What they don’t say is that it was my first golf in almost… 3 months and, if I waited 3 years, they would do their usual “hit” pieces anyway. They are sick with hatred and dishonesty. They are truly deranged! They don’t mention Sleepy Joe’s poor work ethic, or all of the time Obama spent on the golf course, often flying to…Hawaii in a big, fully loaded 747, to play. What did that do to the so-called Carbon Footprint? He also played moments after the brutal killing by ISIS of a wonderful young man. Totally inappropriate – and it was me who shattered 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. I was left a MESS!” [Obama wasn’t the president when Daniel Pearl was murdered on 1 February 2002.]

May 25 – “I love the Great State of North Carolina so much so that I insisted on having the Republican National Convention in Charlotte at the end of August. We would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democratic Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space. If not, we will be reluctantly forced … to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.”

May 25 – (when asked by a reporter if he would have done anything differently facing the crisis) “Well, nothing. If you take New York and New Jersey — which were very hard hit — we were very, very low…. We’ve done, you know, amazingly well.”

May 26 – “Great News: The boring but very nasty magazine, The Atlantic, is rapidly failing, going down the tubes, and has just been forced to announce it is laying off at least 20% of its staff in order to limp into the future. This is a tough time to be in the Fake News Business!”

May 29 – (on severing the US’s relationship with the WHO) “China’s cover up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread throughout the world. Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organisation.”

*June 10 – “You’ve got 30 names you can call this thing. I call it the plague from China. The plague. And it’s not good. And it’s not good. It could have been stopped in China but they decided not to do that and we’ll have to figure that one out won’t we.”

June 5 – “”Remember this: When you have more tests, you have more cases. I say to my people: Every time we test, you find cases because we do more testing. So if we have more cases — if we wanted to do testing in China or in India or other places, I promise you, there’d be more cases.”

June 8- “So we were able to close our country, save millions of lives, open.  And now the trajectory is great.”

June 11- “And I hope that the lockdown — governors, I don’t know why they continue to lock down, because if you look at Georgia, if you look at Florida, if you look at South Carolina, if you look at so many different places that have opened up — I don’t want to name all of them, but the ones that are most energetic about opening, they are doing tremendous business.  And that — this is what these numbers are all about”. [After lifting the lockdown, there has been a surge in new cases in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. On June 12 Oregon paused its reopening as cases began to multiply. Arizona reported a 49% increase in hospitalizations since Memorial Day. Texas has had a 36% increase in new cases over the same period.]

June 11- “A gift from China — not good.  They should have stopped it.  They should have stopped it at the source.  But it’s a gift from China and a very bad gift, I will tell you that.

And you do say, “How come at Wuhan, where it started…”  And they were very badly — they were in bad trouble.  But it didn’t go to any other parts.  It didn’t go to Beijing.  It didn’t go to other parts of China.  Then you say, “How come it came out to Europe, to the world, to the United States?”  So it didn’t go to China; they stopped it cold.  They knew it was a problem.  But they didn’t stop it cold from coming to the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world.  Somebody has to ask these questions, and we’ll get down to the answer.” [The claim that the virus did not reach Beijing was fact-checked by Agence France-Presse and found to be false.]

Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.