President Donald Trump refused to believe that America has one of the highest coronavirus mortality rates in the world and brushed off the rising death toll from the pandemic during a combative and contentious Sunday interview with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.
In his first interview with the veteran news anchor in nearly two years, the president immediately grew incensed when Wallace pressed him on the surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, something that Trump has insisted is due to just “burning embers” and increased testing.
“That’s because we have great testing, because we have the best testing in the world. If we didn’t test, you wouldn’t be able to show that chart,” Trump grumbled. “If we tested half as much, those numbers would be down.”
Wallace, meanwhile, pointed out that this “isn’t burning embers” but more like a “forest fire,” prompting Trump to retort that he’ll “put out the flames” of those “embers” before complaining that other countries are also dealing with rising cases.
“Why don't they talk about Mexico?” Trump bellowed. “Which is not helping us. And all I can say is thank God I built most of the wall because if I didn't have a wall up we would have a much bigger problem with Mexico.”
The Fox host, highlighting numbers from Johns Hopkins University, shot back that the United States currently has the “seventh highest mortality rate in the world” and that the European Union is currently banning American travelers.
Trump, however, falsely claimed that America has among the lowest fatality rates, asking White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to bring him a document to prove him right. He further accused Wallace of being “fake news.” Wallace, for his part, inserted a separate reporting segment at that point in the interview, informing viewers that the White House used a misleading chart to make Trump’s case.
The president would continue to assert that the only reason American cases are spiking is due to increased testing, causing Wallace to retort that while testing has risen by 37 percent, cases are up 194 percent and the positivity rate has increased in recent weeks.
After the president claimed the vast majority of cases were just young people “with the sniffles,” Wallace said he was going to do Trump “a favor” by allowing him to convince the audience that he isn’t playing down the virus.
“I can tell you the death chart is 1,000 cases a day,” Wallace added when the president insisted he was taking the pandemic seriously.
“Excuse me, it's all too much, it shouldn't be one case,” Trump shot back. “It came from China, they should have never let it escape, they should have never let it out but it is what it is.”
Wallace also pressed Trump on his administration’s attempts to smear top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, which Trump blamed solely on one single White House official going rogue. At the same time, Trump made sure to say that Fauci is an “alarmist” and has been “wrong” on the pandemic many times.
The Fox host told Trump that he has been wrong quite a few times himself on the virus, playing him a series of clips showing Trump predicting that the disease would quickly disappear and cases would soon go down to zero.
“I’ll be right eventually,” he confidently stated. “I said it's going to disappear, I will say it again...and I’ll be right.”