(CNN)President Donald Trump has returned from India to see his administration on the defensive over his administration’s handling of the novel coronavirus, as Cabinet officials are grilled in Congress and Democrats pan the White House’s budget request to fight the virus.
Trump has scheduled a 6 p.m. ET news conference, following a briefing with top aides.
But while the President and senior administration officials have publicly downplayed the impact of the virus, the White House is also considering additional travel restrictions to address the crisis.
The stock market decline has especially exacerbated Trump’s rising concerns over how to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus even though he has publicly declared the virus to be “very much under control in the USA,” multiple people tell CNN.
Investors are growing concerned about the economic impact of the coronavirus, as is the President, whose reelection campaign is banking on a strong economy.
Trump has been publicly downplaying the novel coronavirus’ effects, because he thinks doing otherwise could cause further panic in the markets — and he’s been frustrated with officials issuing warnings about the unknowns of the virus’s spread. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is one aide who encouraged Trump to downplay the latest developments, at least publicly, one person says.
“I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away,” Trump said Tuesday in New Delhi.
But that same day, one of the top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans that health experts foresee the coronavirus that has killed thousands abroad spreading in the US.
“We expect we will see community spread in this country,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”
As CNN previously reported, Trump has been privately lashing out at officials for coronavirus-related decisions. His instinct has been to seal off the US from those testing positive, even Americans, though he acknowledged at a press conference in India that allowing them back into the US was the right thing to do.
But publicly, the White House has maintained that the President is confident in the current efforts by administration officials already appointed to assist with the coronavirus response.
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere tweeted Wednesday that a report indicating Trump was weighing whether to appoint a czar “is not true!”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers that he doesn’t anticipate a czar being appointed anytime soon.
Trump’s return to Washington also corresponds with the start of a potential federal funding fight to res