White House chief of staff Mark Meadows off-handedly told CNN on Sunday that the Trump administration is “not going to control” the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed nearly 225,000 Americans and has now reached Vice President Mike Pence’s orbit in what appears to be a new COVID-19 outbreak in the White House.
“We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,” Meadows said on CNN on Sunday morning.
CNN’s Jake Tapper then pressed Meadows on why the country won’t get the COVID-19 pandemic under control.
Meadows replied that it’s “because it is a contagious virus just like the flu” and that the Trump administration is “making efforts to contain it.”
“What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don’t die from this,” Meadows said.
Crosstalk ensued as Meadows threw in a jab at Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by falsely accusing the former VP of saying that he wants to “lock everybody down.” Tapper replied that Biden never said that and that he was quoting a health official when remarking that a “dark winter” is ahead for the country as COVID-19 cases surge.
Earlier in the interview, Meadows was pressed on several aides to Pence contracting COVID-19.
Asked about a detail in the New York Times’ report on Pence aides testing positive for COVID-19, which reported that Meadows sought to keep the news of the outbreak from being public, the White House chief of staff falsely asserted that it’s “not a report, it’s a tweet.”
Meadows then said that “sharing personal information is not something that we should do.”
“Not something that we do actually do unless it’s the vice president or the President or someone that is very close to them where there is people in harm’s way,” Meadows said.
Meadows was later asked about why Pence himself is not quarantining for 14 days like the CDC recommends, and is instead continuing campaign efforts by holding rallies.
After insisting that Pence is campaigning while “getting things done,” Meadows argued that Pence would continue with travel plans because he is “essential personnel” and will comply with mask-wearing when he is not on stage delivering a speech.
“I’m not saying he is not campaigning, I’m saying that is only part of what he is doing and as we look at that, ‘essential personnel,’ whether it’s the vice president of the United States or anyone else, has to continue on,” Meadows said.
Biden issued a scathing statement on Meadows’ remarks later Sunday, writing that the Trump administration has “given up their basic duty to protect” Americans.
Joe Biden responds to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows comments on @CNNSotu this morning, saying Meadows admitted that the administration has “given up on even trying to control this pandemic, that they've given up on their basic duty to protect the American people.” pic.twitter.com/b6IKIUHQQ3
— Sarah Mucha (@sarahmucha) October 25, 2020
Watch Meadows’ remarks below:
Mark Meadows: “We’re not going to control the pandemic, we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”
Jake Tapper: “Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?”
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) October 25, 2020