Kevin McCarthy wanted to stop Trump’s daily COVID-19 briefing: Book

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy wanted Trump to stop his daily COVID-19 briefings, according to a new book.
  • “We need to get him off television,” McCarthy told Republican leaders in April 2020.
  • The conversation comes in a new book by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl.

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Many people in then-President Donald Trump’s circle thought his appearances at daily live COVID-19 press briefings last spring were chaotic and unproductive, and rep. Kevin McCarthy wanted to “get him off TV,” according to a new book by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl.

The comments took place in late April 2020, a day after the president made his infamous remarks at a briefing suggesting disinfectant could be used to treat coronavirus. McCarthy, the House Republican leader, was on his way to a White House lunch invitation with the Republican reps. Steve Scalise and Liz Cheney and said they had a mission to accomplish according to the book.

“We need to get him off television,” McCarthy told his fellow GOP leaders at the time, according to Karl’s forthcoming book, “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.” Insider received an early copy of the book, which is set for release on Tuesday.

At the April 24 meeting, McCarthy tried to persuade Trump to end the briefings, which had begun in March 2020, when COVID-19 spread across the country. Trump would go to the direct press conferences with members of his coronavirus task force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, and used the time to praise his pandemic response and promote himself. At the time, Trump was facing declining public approval ratings over his administration’s handling of the outbreak.

McCarthy told Trump that the briefings backfired, according to the book. But Trump resisted, saying the briefings were the hottest program on television and attracted huge ratings, according to the book. Trump appeared for a briefing later that day.

Still, in the days that followed, Trump began hearing more about his low poll numbers from his campaign advisers and stopped going to briefings so often, according to the book. Eventually, the briefings happened less and less, and Trump shifted his focus to his re-election in 2020.

A spokesman for McCarthy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the disinfecting comments, the COVID-19 briefings often had controversial moments, including Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine could treat the virus he called COVID-19 the “China virus”, not wearing a mask, attacking Democrats governors, and downplay the severity of the disease and the outbreak.

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