President Donald Trump is doubling down on comments made at his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma this past weekend. Previously, his staff said that he was joking when he told the rally audience he wanted to slow down coronavirus testing. Now, he’s saying he wasn’t kidding.
On Saturday, Trump described COVID-19 testing as a “double-edged sword.”
“I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down please,'” Trump said at the rally. However, soon after that, multiple White House officials asserted that the President was joking.
Indeed, earlier Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Trump was speaking “in jest” and “in passing.” But that was contradicted shortly thereafter.
“I don’t kid, let me just tell you, let me make it clear,” Trump told a reporter on Monday when asked about Saturday’s statement and if he was actually joking.
Trump’s Testing Comments
In his interview with CBN News on Monday night, Trump expanded on his stance on testing. While Trump says he never gave the order to slow down testing, he did tell staff that the US would look better if fewer tests were done.
“I think we put ourselves at a disadvantage, I told my people. I said, ‘We’ve gotten so good at testing … We test much more than any other nation,’ so you hear about all these cases,” Trump told CBN.
Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020
“So, instead of 25 million tests, let’s say we did 10 million tests. We’d look like we were doing much better because we’d have far fewer cases. You understand that,” Trump told CBN. “I wouldn’t do that, but I will say this: We do so much more than other countries it makes us, in a way, look bad but actually we’re doing the right thing.”
Trump said that his comments were “semi-tongue in cheek” and emphasized that more testing meant more confirmed cases.
CNN reports that Trump went on to highlight US COVID-19 testing numbers and said that “by having more tests, we have more cases.”
As more states reach their last stages of reopening after lockdown, several states are reporting spikes in confirmed coronavirus cases.