Trump campaign denies he downplayed virus weeks after he said it's 'fading away'


'That is so false,' Trump campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp said.

Mercedes Schlapp, a senior adviser to Donald Trump's reelection campaign, denied on Friday that Trump had downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic.

During an appearance on CNN, Schlapp was asked why Trump had minimized the dangers of the coronavirus.

"That is so false," she said. "He never downplayed it."

Exactly one month ago, on June 17, Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity that the virus was in decline.

"It's fading away. It's going to fade away but having a vaccine would be really nice and that's going to happen," Trump said.

As recently as July 1, the Washington Post reported, Trump said, "I think we're going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that, at some point, that's going to sort of disappear, I hope."

Since then the U.S. death toll connected with the virus has crossed the 138,000 mark.

Trump has been dismissive of the virus since the pandemic began, making claims that it would "go away in April with the heat," or that it would "disappear" like "a miracle." He accused Democrats of promoting a "hoax" by discussing their concerns about it.

From the July 17 edition of CNN's "Newsroom":

POPPY HARLOW, CNN: For months, and months, why did the president continue to downplay the severity of this?


MERCEDES SCHLAPP: That is so – that is so false, what you're saying, Poppy.


HARLOW: What's false?


SCHLAPP: He never downplayed it.




SCHLAPP: Oh, that you're saying that he downplayed the severity of this? This president has taken decisive and bold actions from the beginning. When his medical experts came to him and said, "Look, we need to put these travel restrictions on China," the president acted immediately.


You know what Joe Biden said?


HARLOW: Mercedes, let's stay on the president. I promise we can get to Joe Biden in a moment.


SCHLAPP: We have to talk about Joe Biden because none of the press wants to ask questions to Joe Biden.


HARLOW: Oh that's not true.


SCHLAPP: He's a candidate. Shouldn't we know what Joe Biden stands for?


HARLOW: We should. And we should absolutely know what the president leading in this pandemic stands for.


SCHLAPP: Right, and will he let you guys ask questions? That's my point.


HARLOW: It is the single most relevant issue for Americans at this moment in time.


SCHLAPP: And we all agree.


HARLOW: Mercedes, please. I think it does a disservice. We've got time, so we don't have to talk over one another. I think it does a disservice to our viewer to do that. Let's not fight, let's talk about the facts.


Here are the facts: You say the president didn't downplay this. Exactly one month ago, one month ago today the president said, "It's fading away." January 22nd in Davos, Switzerland, "It's totally under control."


February 2nd, "We've pretty much shut it down." February 10th, "It goes away in April with the heat, a lot of people think." February 26th, "The risk to the American people remains very low." February 28th, quote, "This is their new hoax." May 8th, "This is going to go away without a vaccine."


That's what I'm talking about.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.