President Donald Trump contradicted his own administration Tuesday, telling a reporter he does not “kid” when asked about whether he was joking when he said over the weekend that the United States should “slow the testing down.”
“I don’t kid. Let me just tell you. Let me make it clear. We have got the greatest testing program anywhere in the world. We test better than anybody in the world. Our tests are the best in the world and we have the most of them. By having more tests, we find more cases,” he said during a Tuesday gaggle with reporters after CBS News’ Weijia Jiang asked about the comments.
At Monday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump’s comments, made Saturday during a rally in Oklahoma, were “in jest.”
“Any suggestion that testing has been curtailed is not rooted in fact,” she said at the time.
Over the weekend, other officials defended his comments, too. A senior White House official told NBC News the president was kidding and senior trade advisor Peter Navarro told CNN the comment was “tongue in cheek.”
“Testing is a double-edged sword,” Trump said at his weekend rally. “Here’s the bad part: 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!’”
NEW: Asked whether he was kidding when he claimed at his Tulsa rally he had instructed officials to slow down COVID-19 testing, Pres. Trump says, "I don't kid."
— ABC News (@ABC) June 23, 2020