President Trump opened the daily coronavirus briefing by touting an "enhanced counter-narcotics operation" aimed at drug cartels and other terrorists from exploiting the pandemic crisis. Trump's announcement on Wednesday was on the receiving end of outrage from CNN host John King. King said the president was "shameless" for using an important briefing to talk about the "war on drugs."
President Trump announced the program at the top of the briefing:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As governments and nations focus on the coronavirus, there is a growing threat that cartels criminals, terrorists, and other malign actors will try to exploit the situation for their own gain, and we must not let that happen. We will never let that happen. Today the United States is launching enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to protect the American people from the deadly scourge of illegal narcotics. We must not let the drug cartels exploit the pandemic to threaten American lives.
John King's reaction following CNN's short coverage of the daily update:
JOHN KING, CNN: It is remarkable, Wolf, and some would say shameless. This is a coronavirus task force briefing. The country is in the middle of a pandemic. Americans are afraid. They're tuning into these briefings to try to get information from the White House. Amen, and congratulations. If the United States military and the Justice Department are doing a better job keeping cocaine and other illicit drugs from coming that you the country, good for them and congratulations. You can schedule a meeting in the Pentagon or White House briefing but call it what it is. Instead they walk up with the coronavirus task force meeting and the president's trying to have a bit of a political statement here. It's a big policy move, and again let's hope they are right and this is successful and they're keeping drugs out of the United States of America. Good for them for doing that, and we should apply that success. But that's not what this briefing was scheduled for.