White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow says President Donald Trump "led wisely" on the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, defending the president's argument that he downplayed the seriousness of the virus in February and March to avoid causing a panic.
"I think we did the right thing and I think we did it pretty well," Kudlow told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in this week's "The Takeout" podcast. "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."
Kudlow's comments come in response to the outcry over the president's taped interview with journalist Bob Woodward. Trump told Woodward in February that he knew the virus was deadly, and in March, he said he wanted to downplay the disease because he wanted to keep the nation calm.
"As a member of the coronavirus task force — Vice President (Mike) 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.
He stressed that there was a "lot to learn in a very short time" about the oncoming pandemic early this year, and praised Trump for the travel restrictions he imposed first on China and then Europe.
He also told Garrett that while the pandemic is not over yet, "we're on top of it."
Kudlow has been involved in talks with Democrat congressional leaders and White House officials concerning a new coronavirus package but argued that a $3 trillion bill passed in the House called for too much money.
Trump questions providing more state and local funding through another bill, said Kudlow, adding that the administration is willing to agree on more funding if it is related to COVID.
"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."
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