Members of the habitually anti-Trump, non-objective mainstream press tried predictably Friday to blame some of the seemingly inexorable consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic on President Donald Trump.
During a coronavirus press conference from the White House that afternoon, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked the president if he’s willing to “take responsibility” for a delay in coronavirus testing.
“Yeah, no, I don’t take responsibility at all, because we were given a — a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time,” the president replied.
Trump says “I don’t take responsibility at all” when asked about the delay in coronavirus tests pic.twitter.com/rJYEo7Gfpu
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) March 13, 2020
Shortly thereafter, PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor doubled down on Welker’s premise.
“You said that you don’t take responsibility, but you did disband the White House pandemic office, and the officials that were working in that office left this administration abruptly,” she said.
“So what responsibility do you take to that? And the officials that worked in that office said that you — that the White House lost valuable time because that office was disbanded. What do you make of that?”
The question annoyed the president.
“Well, I just think it’s a nasty question because what we’ve done is — and Tony has said numerous times that we’ve saved thousands of lives because of the quick closing. And when you say ‘me,’ I didn’t do it. We have a group of people I could …,” he tried replying.
By Tony, he meant National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Before he could finish his thought, Alcindor interrupted him to say, “It’s your administration.”
Watch the confrontation below:
Following the press conference, members of the media predictably pounced on the president’s responses, labeling them “lies” and “misinformation.”
Dovetailing back to the first confrontation in which the president cited “rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time,” he’d been referencing certain rules that were instituted during former President Barack Hussein Obama’s term in office. Some of these rules have been lifted in recent days thanks to Trump.
“One regulation Trump lifted was to allow states to produce their own testing kits,” the Washington Examiner notes. “He also removed a regulation that required all test kits to be sent to a CDC lab to be confirmed by federal authorities, a process that extended the wait times for patients to be notified about their results.”
In tweets posted hours before the press conference Friday, the president offered more context for his claims.
For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2020
…. Their response to H1N1 Swine Flu was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now. The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis. All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2020
Some experts have echoed the president’s concerns about overregulation.
“Overregulation of diagnostic testing has played a major role in this delay,” Roger D. Klein, M.D., J.D., an expert with the Regulatory Transparency Project’s FDA and Health Working Group, wrote for City Journal last week.
“The FDA has not allowed the experienced and highly skilled professionals at public-health, academic and commercial laboratories to set up their own laboratory developed tests (LDTs), and no manufactured test kits have been authorized for sale in the US. In Europe, several companies, at least one US-based, have regulatory approval to sell test kits there,” his piece continued.
“The FDA’s regulation of laboratory tests has been a longstanding concern. This includes moves to regulate LDTs, despite the existence of stringent alternative-regulatory and oversight mechanisms. In general, the FDA has exercised ‘enforcement discretion’ with respect to LDTs. With coronavirus testing, the FDA’s abandonment of enforcement discretion may have proved deadly.”
Speaking with The Epoch Times, Klein said bluntly that “[t]he problem is a holdover from the Obama administration.”
The FDA “got more assertive during the Obama administration and tried to get control over clinical laboratory testing,” he added.
He cited a letter sent by the FDA during the Zika virus pandemic in 2016.
“The agency sent a warning letter dated March 2016 to two hospitals in Houston asking them to get clearance and approval from the FDA for the test kits they had developed to detect the Zika virus,” the Times noted.
In fairness to Obama, however, Klein noted that the FDA didn’t attempt to regulate testing during the swine flu pandemic in 2009, thus “allowing labs to act swiftly nationwide.”
“Labs started testing right away. And we quickly got a handle on the epidemic,” he explained, adding that it was afterward that the FDA was granted draconian regulatory authority.
Despite the facts concerning overregulation by the Obama administration, the president has faced repeat criticism from Democrats and their media allies for the delays in coronavirus testing.
“The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing, and we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion,” he initially tried to fire back during a White House meeting on March 4.
Trump on coronavirus testing: “The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing & we undid that decision a few days ago so that testing can take place in a much more accurate & rapid fashion” (what’s he talking about?) pic.twitter.com/Z0UBaORIwI
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 4, 2020
Predictably, the media responded by accusing him of lying.
“The president was right,” Klein said to the Times.
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