White House worried Trump-inspired protests will blow up in his face if attendees are stricken with COVID-19: NYT's Haberman
CNN screenshot/AFP

Appearing remotely on CNN's "New Day" New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman claimed that senior officials in Donald Trump's administration are deeply concerned about the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak afflicting supporters who have flocked to the streets to protest the pandemic shutdown at the president's urging.

Speaking with hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota, Haberman, said those same aides are also worried about violence at the protests as some attendees have been showing up armed with weapons.

Over the weekend, following the president's tweets to "liberate" various states overseen by Democratic governors, flocks of Trump supporters took to the streets waving signs and, in some instances, blocking traffic around hospitals.

According to Haberman, televised scenes of the protesters have set off alarms in the White House.

"This is not 2016," she began. "What he is doing is encouraging people to violate statewide orders and these are not by choice issues from these governors -- these are mandatory. So you have a president who is doing something that some of his advisers acknowledge is probably not smart public health policy, but they think is probably effective politics for him because it helps him with a certain group of supporters and downplays his own responsibility."

"Public health policy can mean a lot of things," Berman offered. "In this case, Maggie, it might mean that it costs lives"

"Right, look, it's very risky" the journalist replied. "One adviser I spoke to made the point if someone gets hurt in one of those protests, and we should be clear these protests been pretty small and scattershot organized as opposed to authentic so far, so we'll see how durable they are. If they remain, if someone gets hurt or sick at one of the protests where a lot of people are not wearing masks, that raises the potential stakes for the president and some of his folks are aware of that."

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