▶ Watch Video: Trump says “I didn’t lie” about coronavirus

White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow defended President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the president “led wisely” earlier this year. Mr. Trump has argued that his decision to downplay the severity of the virus to the American public in February and March was to avoid creating a panic.

“I think we did the right thing and I think we did it pretty well,” Kudlow said of the administration’s general response to the pandemic. “We did the best we could and I think it’s really quite effective. I think the president led wisely, I think the vice president led wisely.”


Highlights from this week’s episode:

  • Larry Kudlow on President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic: “We did the best we could and I think it’s really quite effective. I think the president led wisely, I think the vice president led wisely.”
  • Whether the president’s rhetoric has affected White House coronavirus task force’s work: “As a member of the coronavirus task force — Vice President Pence’s task force — I can tell you that the president’s public posture, where he wanted calm not panic, in no way reflected or slowed the internal process of building an across the board infrastructure to combat the virus.”
  • Additional funding to states to help with the virus response: “We would want COVID-related guardrails on any assistance to the states.”

Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council and also a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, spoke with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast. He responded to revelations from a new book by journalist Bob Woodward that the president had expressed concern about the deadliness of the virus as early as February, and that he admitted playing it down in his public appearances.

“As a member of the coronavirus task force — Vice President Pence’s task force — I can tell you that the president’s public posture, where he wanted calm not panic, in no way reflected or slowed the internal process of building an across the board infrastructure to combat the virus,” Kudlow told Garrett.

Kudlow also said that “there was a lot we had to learn in a very short period of time” about the pandemic earlier in the year, and he praised Mr. Trump for imposing travel restrictions on China and Europe.

He also acknowledged that the pandemic is “not over yet,” although he said “we’re on top of it.”

Kudlow, who alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been involved in talks with Democratic congressional leaders over a new coronavirus relief package, also talked about the current impasse in negotiations. Kudlow argued that the $3 trillion bill approved by House Democrats in May was too high a price tag.

Kudlow said that the president was skeptical of providing more funding to state and local jurisdictions, but also said that the administration would be willing to agree to additional funding if it were COVID-related.

“So much of the bill from the other side had nothing to do with COVID,” Kudlow said. “We would want COVID-related guardrails on any assistance to the states.”

The Senate failed to move forward with a slimmed-down coronavirus relief bill proposed by Republicans on Thursday.

For more of Major’s conversation with Kudlow, download “The Takeout” podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
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