President Donald Trump is set took the briefing room podium for another press conference, at 5:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, his second in as many days.
Trump resumed the coronavirus briefings Tuesday after discontinuing them in April, when he declared them a waste of time. Tuesday’s briefing, which came amid surging coronavirus cases and dropping poll numbers, was somber in tone and the President appeared to largely stick to his script.
“We’ll be doing these quite often. We’re going to keep you abreast of this, and we’ll also talk about some of the other topics like our economy, which is doing well,” Trump said as he concluded Tuesday’s briefing, which clocked in at around 30 minutes, significantly shorter than his wide-ranging briefings as the virus spread this spring.
It’s unclear whether any public health officials will join Trump in the briefing room on Wednesday. Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was not invited to Tuesday’s briefing, and Trump said Dr. Deborah Birx was “right outside” when asked where his doctors were.
Trump offered a sober assessment of the pandemic, which he has previously claimed was under control, telling reporters Tuesday, “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.”
He also made a full-throated appeal for Americans to wear masks, contradicted his press secretary on how frequently he is tested for coronavirus, and did not provide any new plans to increase testing or tracing. He also raised eyebrows when he wished Ghislaine Maxwell “well.” Maxwell is charged with recruiting, grooming and ultimately sexually abusing minors as young as 14 as Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged accomplice.
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway attempted to shift blame for surging coronavirus cases to the nation’s governors, claiming that Trump’s somber message and changing tone was “not a change,” but instead, a reaction to some states that reopened too quickly.
“It’s not a change. The briefings stopped, but his work hasn’t stopped,” Conway said Wednesday.
“I think what he added yesterday is him seeing that some of these states moved through our gated criteria, moved through some of our phases, and they opened up some of the industries a little too quickly like bars,” she added, even though it was the President who urged states to reopen.
Governors, Conway said, “wanted complete latitude” over reopening, but Trump “also sees that if he provides information to the public as the President, he’s also giving people guidance as to how to do our part to help flatten that curve and to help some of these cities.”