Pence attempts damage control after Trump's address but makes things worse


Vice President Mike Pence refused to answer questions about the administration's coronavirus response during television interviews Thursday morning.

Vice President Mike Pence went on CNN and the "Today" show Thursday morning to talk about the Trump administration's coronavirus response, but he struggled to answer basic questions about the global health pandemic.

Pence, who has been leading the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic since Feb. 27, defended Donald Trump's error-riddled Wednesday night primetime address to the nation during a CNN appearance.

"I don't think there was confusion," Pence said about Trump's address, despite the fact that the Trump administration issued numerous corrections within hours of Trump speaking.

Trump declared that cargo from Europe would be prohibited from entering the United States, but hours later he tweeted that trade would not be impacted.

Trump also said that he would suspend "all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days." Afterward, the administration had to clarify that the restrictions did not apply to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

The administration also had to correct Trump to state that new travel restrictions only apply to parts of Europe rather than all of it. Though none of the travel restrictions are directed at countries where Trump owns hotel properties.

Pence also discussed coronavirus testing availability in the United States, struggling to provide accurate information.

He was asked about numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing a decline in coronavirus testing over the past week, from more than 1,200 tests administered on March 5 to only eight tests administered on March 10.

"Why are the number of tests going down?" Pence was asked.

"Well, I don't believe are," Pence replied.

Pence then said that labs in every state are able to conduct coronavirus testing, but did not repeat Trump's promise that anyone who wanted to be tested could be tested.

Instead, Pence touted the ability of private companies to produce more tests at some point in the near future.

"Ultimately, it's going to be the commercial laboratories that have the capacity to get tests all over the country, and we're making steady progress," Pence said.

When pushed about the testing numbers released by CDC, Pence equivocated.

"I'm not saying they're wrong," he said, but the numbers "may not be complete, because we don't necessarily collect today all the information from state laboratories about tests that are being done."

When asked yet again how many tests have been administered across the country, Pence replied, "Well, I would leave that to the experts."

Pence was not clear as to which experts he was referring.

On the "Today" show, Pence was asked about the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

After being told that Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease expert within the Trump administration, predicted "millions and millions" would become infected, Pence was asked what experts were telling him.

Pence responded by defending Trump's actions to restrict travel from China in January. He then said that "we know there will be thousands more cases of coronavirus in this country."

"Thousands or millions?" he was asked.

"Well, I'll leave to the experts to make the estimates of how many people will be infected," Pence said.

It was a Trump administration expert who estimated millions would be infected.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.