Mar 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Mnuchin denies Trump has been "wrong" about his own coronavirus policies

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that President Trump has gotten things "wrong" about his own coronavirus proposals, despite the administration having to walk back several of the policies Trump outlined in his Oval Office address on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The president's credibility is being called into question during a global health crisis that is likely to worsen.

The big picture: Trump made three false claims during his speech on Wednesday. First, he said that Americans returning from Europe will be exempt from the travel ban if they "have undergone appropriate screenings."

  • The Department of Homeland Security later clarified that the ban only applies to foreign nationals who have been in the Schengen region of Europe within 14 days of arrival in the U.S. Permanent U.S. residents, citizens or immediate family of citizens are not subject to the policy.

Trump also stated that health insurers had agreed to "waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments."

  • In fact, insurers had only agreed to waive copayments for testing.

Finally, Trump claimed that the travel restrictions would apply to a "tremendous amount of trade and cargo."

  • Trump clarified in a tweet that the ban "stops people not goods." Pressed on this by ABC's Jon Karl, Mnuchin said: “We were very clear that people misinterpreted the comment on cargo.”
  • "He wanted to reassure the American public," Mnuchin added. "I don't think in an Oval Office address you can address every single issue as you're discussing it."

Driving the news: On Friday, Trump said in a press conference that Google is "very quickly" building a website to help people determine whether they need a test for coronavirus and that "Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now."

  • But Google said Verily, the life sciences unit of its parent company Alphabet, is "in the early stages of development" on such a tool that would only apply to the Bay Area with the hope of expanding over time.
  • Mnuchin would not explain the inconsistencies in Trump's remarks. Asked when the website would be available, Mnuchin told ABC: "I really don't know. I'm sure it's as quickly as possible."

Go deeper

Trump made 3 false claims in his Oval Office coronavirus speech

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The White House had to walk back three policy announcements from President Trump's Oval Office announcement Wednesday that are causing more confusion than comfort during the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: COVID-19 is already here in the U.S., and in some communities, it's spreading rapidly. Trump's travel restrictions won't stop the infection in states where person-to-person spread is rampant.

Go deeperArrowMar 12, 2020 - Health

Trump's Google announcement raises questions

Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

President Trump said Friday that Google is building a website to help people determine whether they need a test for COVID-19 and that "Google has 1700 engineers working on this right now." But Google said Verily, the life sciences unit of its parent company Alphabet, is "in the early stages of development" on such a tool.

Update: Google said in an updated statement Saturday it is helping with a national site, but it stressed the testing triage site is being done by sister company Verily, and they are aiming to start testing soon in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Mnuchin: "We're looking at sending Americans checks immediately" during coronavirus crisis

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that the Trump administration is discussing sending checks to Americans "immediately" to help cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Driving the news: Mnuchin, who has been working closely with bipartisan leadership on Capitol Hill to pass new legislation to provide coronavirus relief, announced a series of economic stimulus efforts at the White House designed to help small businesses, corporations and individuals.