The United States on Thursday surpassed China as the country with the most coronavirus cases in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In an evening phone call, Donald Trump had been scheduled to discuss the global pandemic with China’s President Xi Jinping.
But Trump postponed the call by 90 minutes in order to speak on-air with Sean Hannity, according to the president’s own statement to the Fox News host, as seen in the video below on this page. The call had been scheduled for 9 p.m. EDT, which would be 9 a.m. in Beijing. But Trump told Hannity that he rescheduled it for 10:30 p.m. in Washington, D.C.
Instead, Trump took the time to speak to Hannity and defend his handling of the coronavirus crisis, according to an account posted to Twitter by journalist Aaron Rupar, and posted online by Thread Reader.
As documented by Rupar, the president lashed out at several state governors. In one case, he threatened to withhold a much-needed disaster declaration for the state of Michigan because Governor Gretchen Whitmer criticized the federal response to the pandemic.
According to one report, Trump had privately expressed annoyance with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for not acting “good and respectful” enough toward him.
Trump opens by saying he pushed back a diplomatic call with President Xi of China so he could talk to Hannity on Fox News pic.twitter.com/MzMQfJx8sh
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 27, 2020
But Trump took a shot at Cuomo on the air during his interview with Hannity on Thursday.
The previous day, the New York governor had criticized the federal government for providing the state with only 400 ventilators, a vital piece of equipment for treating the most severely affected coronavirus patients. He said that New York required 30,000 ventilators to treat the number of patients anticipated to overwhelm hospitals in the state, as quoted by ABC News.
“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” Trump said to Hannity. “You know, you go to major hospitals, sometimes they have two ventilators.”
“Here’s where this thing is headed,” Rupar commented. “Trump is going to blame blue-state officials for coronavirus deaths in their states.”
The journalist added that he expects the president will also attempt to bring a “sense of normalcy” to “red” states — from which he derives his strongest political support.
In the interview, Trump also attacked Washington Governor Jay Inslee for “always complaining,” saying that he “should be doing more.”
King County, Washington, alone has seen 109 deaths from coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins data, while New York City has suffered 365 fatalities from the pandemic. The number of Americans killed by the outbreak reached 1,209 on Thursday, while total cases nationwide hit 85,486.
That number now exceeds the 81,782 total cases in China, where the virus originated.