President Trump said Tuesday he would "check" on whether he received warnings about the coronavirus outbreak during briefings in January and February.
“I’d have to check. I would have to check. I want to look to the exact dates of warnings,” Trump said during a meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Oval Office.
He cited the China travel ban as a sign he took the threat of the virus seriously.
“But I can tell you this, when I did the ban on China, almost everybody was against me, including Republicans. They thought it was far too harsh, that it wasn’t necessary. Professionals, Republicans and Democrats: almost everybody disagreed, and that was done really early,” he said.
Some background: The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump received more than a dozen warnings about the coronavirus outbreak in daily briefings in January and February, but continued to downplay the virus' threat and severity.
Citing current and former US officials, the paper reported that the warnings came in the President's Daily Brief, a summary of intelligence reports from the various agencies, which tracked the virus' proliferation, highlighted China's inaccurate characterization of the disease and its death toll and warned of potential widespread ramifications related to the pandemic.
Officials told the Post that the President, who frequently forgoes the briefings and has become impatient with the summaries of the brief he now receives a couple of times per week, did not seem to absorb the warnings. They added that focused efforts tracking the virus were on par with prior instances of monitoring security threats, including active terrorism and international clashes.
An official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which manages the briefing, told the Post that "the detail of this is not true" and declined to explain or elaborate. CNN has reached out to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for comment.