Axios’s national political correspondent Jonathan Swan took Donald Trump to task on the nation’s COVID-19 deaths, and it didn’t go well for the president.
The US is the worst-affected country in the world from coronavirus, with more than 4.7 million cases and 155,000 people dead. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black, Latino and Native communities are also experiencing disproportionate mortality figures.
Swan, Axios’s political correspondent, sat down with Trump for a 35-minute interview covering a range of topics, such as Black Lives Matter, US foreign policy with regards to China, Russia and Afghanistan and also the upcoming election (rather, the hypocrisy of his crusade against mail-in voting when the Republican Party has a well-funded vote-by-mail program).
Check out a clip from HBO’s Axios interview between Swan and Trump below:
Trump’s rhetoric around the virus – or as he so flagrantly, repeatedly calls it, the Chinese virus – has often veered between confounding and dangerous, whether it be his criticisms of his own infectious diseases expert Dr Fauci, or his brainwave that less tests equals less cases, or as he dubs it: ‘Fodder for the fake news to report cases.’
The most startling segment of the interview came when Swan and Trump went head-to-head on the administration’s outlook on COVID-19 deaths, with Swan looking at mortality based on population and the president looking at deaths versus cases.
Trump tells Swan, while looking at a number of graphs, ‘Right here, the US is lowest in a number of categories… we’re lower than the world.’ At this point, the reporter’s face screams befuddlement. ‘Lower than the world?’ he asks.
Swan then counters: ‘Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the US is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc.’
Trump replies, ‘You can’t do that.’ Swan asks, ‘Why can’t I do that?’ What follows in the immediate 10 seconds is Vicky Pollard-esque ‘yeah but, no but’ floundering, before Swan says: ‘It’s surely a relevant statistic to say the US has X population and X percentage of death of that population, versus South Korea.’
Swan then invokes South Korea’s figures: more than 51 million people, 301 deaths. However, Trump says, ‘You don’t know that.’ When Swan asks him if he’s accusing the country of misreporting, he says, ‘I won’t get into that because I have a very good relationship with the country.’
When Trump queries why he doesn’t receive praise for high levels of testing across the country, Swan points out there’s still around 60,000 Americans in hospital and 1,000 people dying every day.
The rest of the interview includes unfathomable highlights like Trump saying he doesn’t know how the late Congressional Representative John Lewis will be remembered in history because he didn’t come to the president’s inauguration, further well-wishes to accused child sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, and more polemic on prosecuting Antifa rather than law enforcement officers doling out excessive force.
Who needs ? Life imitates art, it seems. You can watch the HBO’s full Axios interview here.