WASHINGTON — The U.S. has passed the peak of the coronavirus outbreak and will soon begin the process of reopening, said President Donald Trump.
Speaking to reporters in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday, Trump said the increase in cases was starting to slow down. “The data suggests that nationwide, we have passed the peak on new cases,” Trump said. “Hopefully that will continue, and we will continue to make great progress.”
He said he would announce new guidelines on easing containment measures Thursday after he speaks to state governors. “We’ll be the comeback kids, all of us,” the president said. “We want to get our country back.”
The U.S. has over 640,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 28,500 deaths. Asked why the death toll was so high compared to other countries, Trump accused other governments of lying about their mortality rates.
“Does anybody really believe the numbers of some of these countries?” he said, naming China.
He also threatened to invoke a never-before-used authority to push through dozens of executive-branch nominees while Congress remains out of Washington D.C. because of the coronavirus crisis.
The move would almost certainly set off a legal battle between the White House and Congress over the limits of presidential power.
Complaining that Senate Democrats are using “pro forma sessions” to prevent him from making recess appointments, Trump threatened to formally adjourn Congress and install his nominees without a vote. Those nominees could potentially serve though the end of 2021.
Trump said the coronavirus pandemic has brought into stark relief the Senate’s failure to approve a large number of his nominees, and he cited unprecedented “obstruction” by Democrats more than three years into his term as the reason for potentially opening this new front in his many legal battles with Congress.
“If they don’t act on getting these people approved — we need them anyway — but we especially need now because of the pandemic, we are going to do something … I prefer not to do but I should do and I will do if I have to,” Trump said at Wednesday’s news conference.
“They’ve been warned, and they’re being warned right now,” Trump added. “We’ll probably be challenged in court, and we’ll see who wins.”