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President Trump told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer Tuesday that state governors have the responsibility of purchasing vital medical supplies in the event of a pandemic, but added that the federal government will be “here to help them.”
“They have to get that gear themselves,” Trump said. “If they don’t have — like with [New York] Governor [Andrew] Cuomo — he had a chance to order 16,000 ventilators … two years ago and he turned it down — now he can’t be blaming us, but we’re here to help them.”
Trump singled out California Gov. Gavin Newsom — a frequent political opponent — for being “very very gracious” in his public comments and being someone who “gets what we’re doing.”
Earlier Tuesday, Cuomo criticized the federal government response as the outbreak continued to spread in New York, telling reporters the state needs 30,000 ventilators in 14 days.
Trump also addressed his statement in a virtual Fox News town hall earlier in the day that he “would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” which falls this year on April 12.
“Look, Easter is a very special day for me,” Trump told Hemmer. ” … And I say, wouldn’t it be great to have all of the churches full? You know, the churches aren’t allowed, essentially, to have much of a congregation there. And most of them — I watched [services] on Sunday online and it was terrific, by the way. But online is never going to be like being there. So I think Easter Sunday, and you’ll have packed churches all over our country, I think would be a beautiful time.”
Trump also discussed the latest coronavirus relief package being debated in Congress, telling Hemmer that having companies who receive loans pay back the Treasury with stock would be a “great deal” for the American people.
The president said that companies who need loans are in a fiscal mess that is no fault of their own.
“It’s going to be loans to these great companies that all of a sudden, for the first time in years, needed loans because of this tragedy, because of what happened — you know, the unseen enemy.” Trump said.
“[T]hese are companies that are great companies that employ tens of thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands of people. We’ve got to keep them in business — But what’s going to happen is, they’re going to pay that back and they’re going to pay it back with maybe stock in the company, for the shareholders,” he continued.
“We’re going to get stock for the people of our country, for the taxpayers of our country. They’re going to end up making a great deal.”
The Senate bill, which Sens Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hope to compromise on by the end of Tuesday, would need House approval to reach Trump’s desk.
A House relief bill engineered by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been lambasted by Republicans for being filled with “pork” for entities such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, Green New Deal-type provisions and “diversity” regulations for corporations taking public monies.
Trump also responded to criticisms from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who spoke on the Senate floor Monday about the Republican-majority body’s preferred stimulus legislation.
Manchin said in his remarks that there appears to be “very little oversight” on where some of the funding will go.
“It looks like things are weighted toward the Wall Street/corporate side,” Manchin said. “This comes down to … can we rise to the occasion?”
Manchin, however, added in his remarks that he is in no way supportive of the “Green New Deal”-type provisions in the House Democrats’ bill.
“I think you all know that — I think we all have to have common sense,” he said.
Trump said the Senate bill is “loaded to save corporations,”
“I mean, maybe he [Manchin] was a businessman, maybe he wasn’t — but it’s loaded to save corporations. Does Joe Manchin want all of these — or many of these companies — to go out of business? … We have to save these companies.”
The president also commented on blowback he’s received for calling coronavirus the “Chinese Virus,” saying he is shifting away from using the term, but does not regret employing the phrase.
“I have a very good relationship with President Xi [Jinping],” Trump said. “And they went through a lot … They went through a lot. They lost thousands of people. They’d been through hell … But, you know, they accused us of having done it through our soldiers. They said our soldiers did it on purpose. What kind of a thing is that?”
The president noted that most virus names come from the areas where they originated, like the Ebola River in Africa or the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme, Conn.
You take our wonderful place in Connecticut, Trump said. “I’m sure they’re not thrilled about the Lyme disease, right? But they do name it after places and it came from China.”