WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump is reviving his coronavirus briefings Tuesday. The early evening White House briefings mark the next stage of the federal government’s response to the pandemic was being crafted on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers and White House officials were opening negotiations on a trillion-dollar-or-more “phase four” rescue package.
Trump announced he would revive the briefings on Monday, though White House officials said hours before he was to take the podium that the format and frequency hadn’t been finalized.
“He’s the right person to give the information to the American people,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. “And, boy, does he get the information to a lot of the American people during his briefings, as noted by the ratings.”
Little more than three months out from Election Day, Trump is hoping that the podium spotlight will give him an edge against Democratic rival Joe Biden. In addition to discussing medical developments, he also was expected to focus on his advocacy for schools to reopen for in-person education, following his threat to try to withhold federal funds from those that stick to remote education.
Biden, for his part Tuesday, launched into scathing criticism of Trump as he outlined the latest plank of his economic recovery plan, charging that Trump “failed his most important test as an American President: the duty to care for you, for all of us.”
“He’s quit on you, he’s quit on this country,” Biden said.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an occasional informal Trump adviser, said the president should wear a mask to the briefing.
“That’s what’s going to convince people that he’s serious about this,” Gingrich said in an interview on “Fox & Friends.”
Trump did tweet a photo of himself in a face mask Monday, calling it an act of patriotism.
But McEnany suggested Trump would not wear a mask in the briefing room, saying that he is the “most tested man in America” for the virus — sometimes tested more than once a day.
Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to offer a preview of potential messages for the briefing, claiming “tremendous progress” on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. He said that “by comparison to most other countries, who are suffering greatly, we are doing very well – and we have done things that few other countries could have done!”
On Capitol Hill, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting chief of staff Mark Meadows were to meet privately Tuesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on the new aid package, a day after Trump convened GOP leaders at the White House.
Democrats are pressing for the next bill to include funding for election protections, while some Republicans have broken with the White House in seeking additional federal funding for testing and contact-tracing. Meanwhile, Trump has found few allies in his push for a payroll tax cut in the legislation.