2020-06-22 00:56:10 UTC
that he directed his aides to 'slow down coronavirus testing', calling the tests
a 'double-edged sword'
President Trump held his first re-election rally since March in Tulsa on
He claimed he told his aides to slow down testing for COVID-19 to avoid
'finding more cases'
A White House official later told reporters that Trump was 'obviously kidding'
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 119,000 American lives
Trump also sparked outrage by calling COVID-19 'kung flu'
In March, CBS reporter said White House official called it 'kung flu' to her
The White House has said President Donald Trump was joking when he told cheering
crowds in Tulsa that he directed his administration to slow down testing for
coronavirus, calling it a 'double-edged sword' that led to more cases being
During a comeback campaign rally on Saturday night, Trump said the US has now
tested 25 million people, far more than other countries.
The 'bad part,' Trump said, is that widespread testing leads to logging more
cases of the virus.
'When you do testing to that extent, you're gonna find more people you're gonna
find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down, please,' he said.
A White House official later told reporters that Trump made the comment in jest.
'He was obviously kidding. We are leading the world in testing and have
conducted 25 million + in testing,' the official said.
The president also ignited outrage by calling COVID-19 the 'kung flu', a racist
term referencing its origins in China.
Trump opted to hold his first rally in 110 days despite concerns from local
health officials that it could lead to further spread of the virus in Tulsa.
Most of those in attendance declined to wear a mask.
The number of newly confirmed cases per day has risen from about 21,400 two
weeks ago to 23,200, according to an Associated Press analysis.
And in Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona - states that loosened their
stay-at-home restrictions early - daily deaths have been quietly rising since
Rising case numbers can partially be explained by the wider availability of
testing. Mild cases, previously undetected because of limits on who could be
tested, are now showing up in the numbers.
The campaign of Trump's Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, released a statement on
Saturday blasting the president for saying his administration slowed testing.
'In an outrageous moment that will be remembered long after tonight's debacle of
a rally, President Trump just admitted that he's putting politics ahead of the
safety and economic well-being of the American people - even as we just recorded
the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in almost two months and 20 million
workers remain out of work,' campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said.
'Trump's catastrophic mismanagement of our nation's response to the worst public
health crisis in over 100 years began with ignoring countless warnings from his
own officials and selling us out to the Chinese government for a hollow trade
deal and that mismanagement continues to this day as he continues to put his
own political interests first while many states see spikes in deadly
She added: 'To hear him say tonight that he has ordered testing slowed - a
transparent attempt to make the numbers look better - is appalling.'
Trump's 'kung flu' reference was also not well received as dozens of people
voiced their disgust on social media.
'It has more names than any disease in history,' the president told thousands of
his supporters inside the BOK Center on Saturday.
'I can name kung flu. I can name 19 different versions of names.'
The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, has been
referred to by the president as the 'Wuhan virus' or the 'Chinese virus'.
Linking the virus, which has caused a pandemic that has claimed the lives of
more than 119,000 Americans, to China has led to an uptick in hate crimes
against Asian Americans in recent months.
The president has defended his handling of the pandemic, though his
administration has been blamed for its response to the virus that has so far
infected more than 2 million Americans.
In March, the president denied that using the term 'Wuhan virus' or 'Chinese
virus' was racist.
It's 'not racist at all,' Trump told reporters in March.
'It comes from China. I want to be accurate.'
The reaction to Trump's comments on Saturday was fierce, as Twitter users
assailed the president for using racist language.
Jennifer Taub tweeted: 'Trump is a racist pig. He just called Covid-19 'Kung
An organization called Republican Voters Against Trump tweeted: 'Enough of this
racist bile. Enough.'
Peter Rosenberg tweeted: 'Yo this man just said 'Kung Flu' to describe
Coronavirus ... he is unhinged because this rally is empty.'
Rabia O'Chaudry tweeted: 'He just said Kung Flu. He's so effing disgusting.'
Santiago Mayer tweeted: 'Everytime the President calls it 'Kung Flu' he is
belittling the nearly 120,000 Americans who have died of Coronavirus.
'What he is doing is not only not Presidential, but it lacks basic human decency
Another Twitter user wrote: 'Not Kung Flu...we HAVE to get 45 out.'
On March 17, Weijia Jiang, a White House correspondent for CBS News, reported
that a White House official referred to coronavirus as 'kung flu' right to her
'This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the 'Kung-Flu'
to my face,' Jiang tweeted.
'Makes me wonder what they're calling it behind my back.'
The next day, Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump aide, said reports that a White
House official used the term 'kung flu' were 'highly offensive.'
'I'd like to know who they are,' Conway said when asked to comment about the
'But hold on, you can't just say that and not name them. Tell us who it was.
'Come up here and tell us who it was.'
Conway declined to condemn the White House official, though she said 'of course
'But you can't just make an accusation and not tell us who it is,' Conway said.
She then turned to Jiang and asked: 'Who is it?'
Jiang replied: 'I think you understand how these conversations go. I am also a
'I don't know how these conversations go and that's highly offensive,' Conway
'So, you should tell us all who it is. I'd like to know who it is.'
Conway continued: 'I'm not going to engage in hypotheticals. I'm married to an
'I mean, I'm not engaging in hypotheticals,' she said.
'I'm married to an Asian ... my kids are partly - I'm married to an Asian
American, my kids are 25 percent Filipino.'
Conway's husband is George Conway, a conservative lawyer who has gained a
massive Twitter following after emerging as one of Trump's fiercest critics.
George Conway is half Filipino.