CNN anchor Brianna Keilar pressed Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh on the president's coronavirus response, arguing Tuesday that the administration had failed to provide adequate supplies for Americans during the pandemic.
"The test had to be invented first before it could be mass-produced and spread around the country, and that's what the president has achieved -- 46 million tests have been conducted in this country. We're now testing 800,000 people a day," Murtaugh told Keilar. As of Tuesday evening, the U.S. has reported more than 48 million tests.
Keilar responded: "Yes, and they take two weeks and sometimes longer, and you know that according to a study out of the Netherlands that if you don't test, get the results back within five days, those tests are pointless. I mean this is a testing failure, Tim."
Murtaugh disagreed, arguing that the administration had achieved a "tremendous success story."
"We're leading the world in testing," he added.
The two also clashed over the Obama administration, which Murtaugh claimed had failed to replenish the national stockpile of N95 masks. He went on to credit the Trump administration with preventing a shortage of ventilators.
"You know, Tim, Obama left 19,000 ventilators in the plan so you’re lying and you’re talking like it’s 2017," Keilar said. "It’s 2020, sir. It is 2020. It has been almost four years."
At one point, they also sparred over studies on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine. When Murtaugh accused Keilar of "cherry-picking," Keilar shot back: "I talk to scientists and doctors, and clearly you don't."
She added that she thought Murtaugh was "doing a real disservice to the health of Americans."
They continued the spat over Twitter, where Keilar said Murtaugh's claim was "false and irresponsible." Murtaugh had sent Keilar a link to back up his claim that Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has helped lead the nation's coroanvirus response, said he would prescribe the medication.
Their exchanges touched on deepening tension in the coronavirus debate as businesses and schools deliberate over whether it is safe to reopen in the fall. Critics of the president have argued that he was too slow to provide testing and generally set a bad example with his own behaviors, such as not wearing a mask.
When Murtaugh claimed that the U.S. led the world in testing, Keilar said that wasn't true on a per capita basis. According to Johns Hopkins, the U.S. has the "highest rate of tests per capita" but continues facing the "largest outbreak in the world."
Last week, the Trump campaign clashed with another CNN anchor, Poppy Harlow, who similarly confronted an adviser about the Obama administration's preparations.
"You all spend a lot of time wanting to criticize the president about his response," Trump adviser Mercedes Schlapp told Harlow, who responded: "I want to ask you about the facts because you have more than 130,000 Americans who died. This is a wartime president -- self-proclaimed -- who has now seen more deaths from coronavirus than the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and September 11th -- and the Obama administration left you guys a 69-page playbook on this."
"Are you kidding me?" Schlapp shot back in reference to former President Barack Obama. "They ended up depleting our stockpile ... this is not a question that you're asking. This is about you all," she added.