Trump: I did great on COVID and I have no idea who gave Fauci a Presidential Commendation

Er … doesn’t the title “Presidential Commendation” give Donald Trump a hint? In a nine-minute interview with Megyn Kelly, Trump tries mightily to shift any blame for COVID-19 policies to “Ron DeSanctimonious,” claim once again that he had no control over Anthony Fauci because of his supposed civil-service status, and demands credit for pandemic policies that most of his party now despises.


On the plus side, Trump put on his best behavior with Kelly despite her tough-yet-polite questioning:

Much of this is erroneous, if not flat-out falsehoods. DeSantis was one of the early GOP governors to push back against Fauci, for instance, and was reopening Florida only two weeks later than Henry McMaster did in South Carolina and much sooner than most other states. At that time, though, Trump criticized both men and Brian Kemp as well — after Fauci and Deborah Birx pushed him to change his mind. In fact, Trump declared that he might be forced to intervene in Georgia and overrule Kemp:

Last week, after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced a plan allowing businesses like nail salons and bowling alleys to reopen, Trump initially told him on a telephone call he supported the plan.

But after members of Trump’s coronavirus task force – principally Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator – cautioned that Georgia’s reopening plans rebutted the federal guidelines Trump had unveiled a few day earlier, he reversed course.

“I told the governor of Georgia Brian Kemp that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia,” Trump said during a news conference last week.

He suggested he would intervene if he saw “something totally egregious.”


That was one day before DeSantis announced his re-opening plan. Plus, there’s this from Stephen “Redsteeze” Miller, via Twitchy:

Just for good measure, since Twitter/X has restored his account, these are Trump’s tweets:

The federal government would, as Kelly points out, push its shutdown strategy for most of May and in some cases longer, including on schools. The reliance on “federal guidelines” run by Birx and Fauci puts lie to Trump’s claim that he let governors go their own way. And as late as the end of July 2020, the White House and Anthony Fauci were still claiming that states had reopened too soon, obviously including Florida.

As for DeSantis’ supposed rush to lock down Florida, that also rewrites history. At the time, DeSantis dragged his heels on issuing a stay-at-home order for Trump’s 15 Days To Stop the Spread project (and for which Allahpundit pilloried DeSantis). DeSantis said he would issue the order if directed by Trump to do so:


Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who has been criticized for refusing to set more statewide mandates as the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus there has soared over 6,700, said on Tuesday that one reason he had not was because the White House’s task force had not recommended it.

“If they do, that’s something that would carry a lot of weight with me,” said Mr. DeSantis, a Republican who has been conciliatory to the White House and received praise in return.

That was twelve days before Trump’s tweets above. Far from rushing into mandates and shutdowns, DeSantis had to be talked into them both, as the New York Times noted contemporaneously. He took a lot of criticism at the time for that reluctance, including from Trump, albeit indirectly at the time.

As far as DeSantis “loving Fauci,” that’s nonsense. By September 2020, Fauci was openly attacking DeSantis for reopening bars and restaurants without restriction. Trump’s COVID response leader instead demanded that DeSantis “double down” on lockdowns:

Bear in mind that this is more than three months before, er, someone awarded Fauci a Presidential Commendation. What happened? Florida’s COVID death rate turned out to be about the same as every other state per capita; they came in third in overall deaths, as Trump loves to point out, but that’s because Florida has the third-largest population. Florida, Texas, and other early-reopening states showed very little statistical differences in health outcomes than long-lockdown states did, but did much better on economic and education measures.


In fact, Florida turned out to be so successful that DeSantis declared “Freedom from Fauci-ism” in March 2022 at CPAC, fourteen months after Trump’s commendation for Fauci. DeSantis made it one of his main campaign themes for his guvernatorial re-election. The result? A 19-point landslide.

What is most amazing about this is how tone-deaf Trump is to his base on pandemic policies. They hated the shutdowns and the mandates, both for masking and vaccines, although as Trump says, the vaccine mandates came under Joe Biden. Why not just admit he made mistakes on lockdowns and mask mandates? Trump is correct in noting that no one really knew what COVID-19 would do when it first hit, and it would be easy to say, “Look, we erred but we erred on the side of caution. We learned a lesson from it, and we won’t ever let the scientists make the political decisions again.”

Instead, Trump wants credit for the COVID policies while pushing the blame for his own mistakes onto others, especially DeSantis. There is literally nothing from Trump, in this interview especially, that would lead anyone to believe that he’d do a single thing differently. That’s the problem with someone who refuses to admit error; they never change, and they never learn.

Addendum: Kudos to Kelly for a respectful but tough interview. She didn’t toss Trump softballs, as Tucker Carlson did, but politely held his feet to the fire, especially on COVID and the vaccines. And again, Trump kept his composure and seemed comfortable with Kelly.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos