Asked on Sunday by CBS reporter Weijia Jiang why he continued to hold rallies throughout February despite the threat of the looming pandemic, and why he failed to enact social distancing until mid-March, the US president first demanded to know who she worked for.
“Who are you with, who are you with … yeah, who are you with?” Mr Trump said, before suggesting his Chinese travel ban in late January was evidence he was on top of the crisis.
When Ms Jiang pointed out the ban only applied to Chinese nationals, and not Americans who may have returned with the virus, Mr Trump interrupted.
“Nice and easy, nice and easy, just relax. We cut it off, people were amazed … everybody was amazed that I did it,” Mr Trump claimed.
When Ms Jiang said Covid-19 had already arrived in the US by the time of the China travel ban, Mr Trump accused her of failing to do her research.
“How many cases of virus were in the United States when I issued the ban? Do you know the number?” he said, adding, “No no, you have to do your research,” when she did not answer.
By the time the US implemented its ban on travel from China on 2 February, there were eight confirmed cases of the virus, though the actual number is likely far higher.
“Keep your voice down please, keep your voice down,” Mr Trump continued when Ms Jiang attempted to interrupt.
He then boasted there were no confirmed deaths from coronavirus in the US before the ban, telling Ms Jiang: “You should say, ‘Thank you very much for good judgement’.”
By Sunday, the US death toll surpassed 40,000 people with a total of 40,461, according to Johns Hopkins University.