The Slatest

Trump Reportedly Plans to Scale Back Coronavirus Briefings After Disinfectant Debacle

President Donald Trump arrives for the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 24, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump arrives for the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 24, 2020, in Washington, D.C. OLIVIER DOULIERY/Getty Images

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It seems the disinfectant was the final straw. President Donald Trump’s allies had been pushing him for a while to take a step back and cut down on his appearances at the daily coronavirus news conferences. And some believe he is finally ready to listen. Trump may no longer make an appearance at the news conferences daily and when he does show up it will be for a shorter amount of time, sources told Axios. Advisers have been telling Trump that the long briefings are part of the reason why he isn’t polling well against former Vice President Joe Biden. “I told him it’s not helping him,” an adviser to the president said. “Seniors are scared. And the spectacle of him fighting with the press isn’t what people want to see.”

Many of Trump’s aides believe the coronavirus briefings are going on for too long and end up devolving into political issues, reports CNN. Trump had long been pushing back against the naysayers with the claim that the news conferences get good ratings and, of course, that could mean his temptation to continue making the appearances will be too great. But aides are optimistic they might be able to convince him in part with the argument that since the peak of the pandemic appears to have passed there isn’t enough material to justify his daily presence at the briefings. “I mean, you wonder how we got to the point where you’re talking about injecting disinfectant?” a source told Axios. Trump is desperate to show that the crisis is ending, and cutting back on his daily appearances could be a sign from Washington that things are starting to return to normal.

Trump seems to be more ready than ever to listen to his aides after the uproar over his suggestion that researchers should investigate whether injecting people with disinfectant could be an effective way to treat the coronavirus. “I see the disinfectant—where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” Trump asked White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx during Thursday’s briefing. Trump later tried to play down his comments. “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters just like you, just to see what would happen,” Trump said Friday afternoon while he signed the coronavirus relief bill. But he still suggested he wanted experts to look into how light could be used to kill the coronavirus in the body. “I’d like them now to look as it pertains to the human body, not just sitting on a railing or sitting on a wall,” Trump said. “I’d like them to look as it pertains—because maybe there’s something there. They have to work with the doc—I’m not a doctor. They have to work with the doctors. But maybe there is something to light and the human body and helping people that are dying.”

Later Friday Trump held an unusually subdued, and short, coronavirus briefing that some speculate could be a sign of the new normal that will be taking hold. With a run time of a mere 22 minutes, Friday’s briefing was the shortest ever and Trump didn’t take any questions after reading from prepared remarks. “For a ritual that in recent days has displayed some the trappings of a political rally, the most unusual thing about the briefing was how conventional it was,” notes Politico.

Update at 8:45 p.m.: On Saturday afternoon, Trump tweeted that the briefings were “not worth the time and effort.”