Donald Trump reportedly sought feedback on his handling of the coronavirus from an unlikely source — baseball legend Alex Rodriguez.
A new report from ABC News producer John Santucci claimed that Trump called the former New York Yankees star to get his thoughts on how the White House is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Santucci wrote on Twitter that Trump took some time to speak to A-Rod along with a number of other calls this week.
“During marathon day of meetings earlier this week, President Trump continued outreach across the country regarding coronavirus & phoned former Yankees baseball player Alex Rodriguez. Multiple sources tell ABC, the president spoke to ARod from the Oval Office,” Santucci wrote.
As Business Insider noted, a source said that the call was “pleasant” but that neither Rodriguez nor his fiancé, Jennifer Lopez, will have any official role in the response effort. The report added that Trump has been reaching out to business leaders and others to get feedback on his administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump has been criticized for not heeding the advice of medical experts throughout the coronavirus outbreak, starting from the early days of its spread in the United States when he downplayed the severity of the virus and predicted that it would soon be over.
The president has adopted a more serious tone in recent weeks but has still contradicted medical experts a number of times, including this week when he predicted that the country could roll back stringent lockdown measures and be reopened by Easter. Medical experts say it could take several more weeks or even months of strict social distancing efforts in order to slow the spread of the outbreak enough so that hospital systems do not become overwhelmed. Some have predicted that these may need to remain in place until a vaccine is created, which could take up to 18 months.
As Sports Illustrated noted, Trump has had a rocky relationship with A-Rod in the past, saying in a 2013 interview with Entertainment Tonight that the Yankees star was “a bad guy.”
“A-Rod’s a bad guy,” Trump said after Rodriguez was facing a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. “I’ve known him over the years, he’s lived in my buildings. Not a good guy. Now, Derek Jeter’s lived in my buildings, everyone’s loved him. They don’t love A-Rod.”
Trump pushed back against the report that he spoke with Rodriguez, calling it “More Fake News!” in a tweet in the early morning hours on Saturday.