President Trump on Tuesday defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, telling a woman in the audience at an ABC News town hall in Philadelphia that he did not “downplay” COVID-19 but instead “up-played” it.
“Why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low income families and minority communities?” the woman asked the commander in chief in response to his comment to author Bob Woodward.
“Well I didn’t downplay it, I actually, in many ways, I up-played it in terms of action. My action was very strong,” Trump told her.
She responded, “Did you not admit to it yourself?”
The president continued to defend his performance without recognizing her interruption at the event, which featured undecided swing-state voters.
“What I did was, with China, I put a ban on, with Europe I put a ban on, and we would have lost thousands of more people had I not put the ban on. So that was called action, not with the mouth but in actual fact,” Trump said.
“We did a very very good job when we put that ban on. Whether you call it talent or luck, it was very important, so we saved a lot of lives when we did that.”
Trump told Woodward in March, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down. Because I don’t want to create a panic.” A recording of the remark was recently published.
Trump defended himself at a recent White House press briefing, saying that he felt it was his responsibility to avoid stoking panic. His press secretary Kayleigh McEnany cited a run on grocery stores at the beginning of the pandemic.
“There was no lie here,” Trump said last week. “What we’re doing is we’re leading, and we’re leading in a proper way… You don’t want me jumping up and down screaming, ‘There’s going to be great death!’ ”
ABC News town hall host George Stephanopoulos, a former White House adviser to President Bill Clinton, told Trump on Tuesday there were “holes” in the coronavirus travel bans.
“I mean the holes in where if you have somebody in China that’s an American citizen we had to let them in,” Trump said, referring to the court-established right for Americans to return to the US.
The clip was released ahead of the full town hall, which will be broadcast at 9 p.m.
Vice President Joe Biden declined an invitation to appear for an ABC News town hall, the network said. But Biden will participate in a CNN town hall on Thursday.
Debate commission considers new actions after disastrous debate
The presidential debate commission is considering giving the moderator the opportunity to cut a candidate’s mic at the next matchup between President Trump and Joe Biden, it was revealed Wednesday.
The debate commission announced that it will adopt changes in order to avoid a repeat of Tuesday night’s clash between the candidates, which has been referred to as a “dumpster fire” and a “sh–storm.”
The Associated Press reported that one change being discussed is giving the moderator the ability to cut off the microphone of one of the debate participants while his opponent is talking.
The debate commission only released a statement that said: “Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.”
They added that the commission “will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said the commission was only making the changes “because their guy got pummeled last night.” The presidential debate commission is a non-partisan entity.
The first presidential debate was marred by constant interruptions as both Trump and Biden talked over each other. Debate moderator Chris Wallace accused Trump of being the more boisterous offender.
“Well, frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting than he has,” Wallace said to Trump at one point.
Biden also heckled Trump, calling him a “clown” and telling him to “shut up.”
Wallace was widely panned for not controlling the discussion. CNN’s Jake Tapper called the event a “hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.”
Even Wallace appeared to be shell shocked by the unsettling nature of the discussion.
“I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did,” Wallace said in an interview with the New York Times after the contest.
However, the Nielsen company said that 73.1 million people tuned in, more than any other television event since the Super Bowl. The event did, however, fall short of the 84 million who watched the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The next presidential debate is a town hall format scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.
Trump signs short-term spending bill to prevent government shutdown
President Donald Trump signed a spending bill early Thursday to prevent an imminent government shutdown.
The Senate voted 84-10 to pass the bipartisan bill, extending federal agency funding to Dec. 11 and avoiding a potentially nasty fight ahead of the Nov. 3 election. The House already passed the bill in a 359-57 vote last week.
Trump signed the bill after returning to the White House from a campaign event in Minnesota, right as federal funds ran dry.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin negotiated the short-term deal — though they continue to be at odds over further coronavirus relief legislation that would send out more stimulus checks and revive an expired unemployment insurance supplement.
The funding extension secures money for a host of programs set to lapse on Sept. 30, from transit to health care, and would finance a new White House transition should Joe Biden win.
Pelosi said in a statement earlier the bill adds $8 billion in food assistance over current spending levels for lower-income Americans and prevents the use of “funds for farmers” held by the Commodity Credit Corporation “from being misused for a Big Oil bailout.”
With Post wires
California police bust ‘cult’ party with 4-foot model vagina
Cops in California’s Bay Area busted what they called a ‘cult or activist group’ party involving a four-foot model vagina on the beach over the weekend.
The cult-like gathering was broken up by cops in Point Molate Beach Park early Saturday morning, just hours after police responded to a suspected “Antifa” gathering at the same location, according to the chief of the Richmond Police Department.
At around 9:33 p.m., Richmond cops responded to the Antifa report when they discovered 50 people dressed in all-black uniforms who had traveled to the beach on a party bus.
The dark-clad group — which were described as a possible Antifa meet-up — agreed to get back on the party bus and disperse without incident.
Just hours later, police found another group of 60 people listening to the climate change recordings huddled around the giant facsimile of a vagina in a dock building nearby.
“The group was listening to recordings about climate change and Mother Earth while assembled around a 4 ft. model of a vagina,” Richmond Police Chief Al Walle wrote on Facebook.
“The group was identified, warned for trespassing, and escorted out of Point Molate.”
Walle said the second group had no affiliation but instead was “some type of cult gathering,” without giving specifics.
Inside the dock building, police “located some items (that won’t be further described) that led the officers to believe this was some type of occult group or activist group since this event was in close proximity to the Chevron refinery,” the police department said in a statement to Patch.
Some joked online that the “cult” party seemed like a garden-variety Bay Area fête.
“Who’s the Bay Area noob that wrote this article?” a reader tweeted. about a local report. “Sounds like a pretty standard Bay Area underground art party to me…”
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