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Mnuchin battles Fox News host on virus failures: ‘Nobody expected this to take off at the rate it did’

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin insisted on Sunday that “nobody” predicted that the new coronavirus pandemic would quickly spread to the United States even though intelligence officials reportedly tried to get the Trump administration to pay attention to the crisis.

During an interview on Fox News Sunday, guest host John Roberts questioned Mnuchin about a recent Washington Post investigation which found that the administration ignored the intelligence officials on the spread of COVID-19.

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“The intelligence community was giving the White House warnings back in January that the situation coming out of China was very, very serious and would likely end up in a pandemic,” Roberts explained. “Were you ever warned that something like this was coming down pipe because the initial White House reaction appeared to be, ‘Oh, don’t worry. It’s over there in China.’ I was told, why do we need to respond robustly because there’s only 16 cases here.”

“Were you ever warned early on by the intelligence community that this was coming?” the Fox News host asked.

“You know, I want to be careful talking about specific intelligence,” Mnuchin replied. “But let me be clear — and this is not just in the U.S., this is around the world. Nobody expected this to take off at the rate it did.”

“The situation has changed very quickly and the president has responded to that,” he added.

The Treasury secretary, however, declined to say if the Trump administration ignored intelligence officials on the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Trump fumes after CNN’s Jim Acosta asks if his coronavirus briefings are just ‘happy talk’

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During Friday's coronavirus task force press briefing, President Donald Trump lost his patience with CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta when he questioned whether the hearings were whitewashing the challenges facing the government.

"I hear from a lot of people who see these briefings as sort of 'happy talk' briefings," said Acosta. "And some of the officials and you paint a rosy picture of what is happening around the country. If you look at some of these questions, do we have enough masks, no. Do we have enough tests, no. Do we have enough PPE, no."

"Why would you say no?" said Trump. "The answer is yes. I think the answer is yes. You asked me do we have enough masks. Yes."

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Trump uses coronavirus briefing to tout pastor who said 9/11 attack was God punishing America

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During a press briefing today to address the nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump was asked about certain Christian pastors who plan to defy state lockdown orders and hold Easter church services this Sunday.

"I've had talks with the pastors, and most of the pastors agree ... that they are better off doing what they are doing, which is, distancing," Trump said, adding that the pastors want to "get back to church so badly."

Trump then referred to a notorious pastor who sits on his religious advisory council.

"I'm going to be watching Pastor Robert Jeffress, who's been a great guy," Trump said. "He's a great guy and I'm going to be watching on a laptop."

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2020 Election

Trump slammed for ‘ridiculous’ ad trying to link Biden to the Chinese government

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On Friday, writing for The Washington Post, Greg Sargent tore apart President Donald Trump's "ridiculous" new attack ad trying to claim that Vice President Joe Biden is beholden to Chinese interests.

"The ad clips Biden’s words out of context to misleadingly imply that Biden criticized Trump’s decision to restrict travel from China, when that’s not what Biden did," wrote Sargent. "Second, the ad relies on numerous past quotes from Biden to demonstrate he’s supposedly been soft on China. But those quotes were mostly boilerplate diplomatic language — and Trump has repeatedly praised China in language very close to what Biden has used ... And third, the Asian man that Biden bowed to turns out to be Gary Locke, a former Washington governor and U.S. ambassador to China, an American."

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