Donald Trump hit out at “rude and nasty” Democratic senators in a Twitter rant on Saturday, as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States passed 700,000.
Mr Trump sought to defend vice president Mike Pence following criticism from senate Democrats about a lack of federal support for coronavirus testing.
“V.P. Mike Pence held a conference call yesterday with all Democrat Senators. He gave them everything that they would have wanted to hear in terms of gaining ground on the CoronaVirus, but nothing that anyone could have said, including ‘it’s over’, could have made…. them happy, or even a little bit satisfied,” he wrote.
“They were RUDE and NASTY. This is their political playbook, and they will use it right up to the election on November 3rd. They will not change because they feel that this is the only way they can win.”
Mr Trump’s Twitter tirade came as the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US passed 700,000 on Saturday. More than 37,000 Americans have died from the virus.
Democrats expressed anger following the call with Mr Pence on Friday afternoon, claiming they were not given clear answers about plans to ramp up testing for the coronavirus across the country. Mr Trump has in recent days made a push to reopen the US economy after weeks of lockdown, but health experts say widespread testing should be an essential step to those efforts.
Maine Senator Angus King said afterwards that he had “never been so mad about a phone call in my life”. A Democratic source told the Hill that the senators questioned the administration’s “inadequate testing regime,” but they felt they did not receive sufficient answers from Mr Pence.
Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire tweeted after the call that it was “deeply concerning that the administration still doesn’t have a plan to track daily testing capacity in every lab in the country, publicly release that data, and put forward a plan and timeline for identifying gaps.”
The Trump administration released a plan this week to reopen the US economy in stages, despite concerns from governors that it is too early to do so.
Mr Pence claimed on Friday that the US has enough tests for states to begin “phase one” of the president’s reopening guidelines, but the plan does not have a national testing strategy. Its criteria says states should have a “downward trajectory” in cases and flu-like symptoms over a two-week period.