In an interview with Fox News broadcast Saturday night, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon predicted that President Donald Trump will impose tougher restrictions in order to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Per The Washington Examiner, speaking with anchor Jesse Watters, Bannon explained that he believes there will be a “big shift” after Trump familiarizes himself with new data. “I think you go to a harder lockdown right now and then we bridge,” the former executive chairman of Breitbart News said.
According to Bannon, Trump will realize that more restrictive measures need to be implemented as soon as possible in order to contain the virus and reopen the economy. “If you have to go through hell, go through it as fast as possible. The president is a wartime president,” he said.
Bannon then argued that Trump has “made some tough calls already,” pointing to the president’s decision to restrict traffic from China despite criticism from the press and politicians such as former Vice President Joe Biden. Furthermore, according to Bannon, the growing number of coronavirus cases across the country — especially in cities such as New York — will compel Trump to adopt a more aggressive strategy.
“I think President Trump is going to come to the conclusion: ‘Hey I want to tighten this thing up some more so that we can get through this quicker and faster and have a steeper revival.’ And I believe that is what is going to happen.”
But, as The Washington Examiner notes, Trump appears to be moving in the opposite direction. The president has suggested that he is open to loosening restrictions despite warnings from public health experts and state officials. On Saturday, he ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a “strong” travel advisory in New York, after initially promising a full lockdown.
Trump has repeatedly suggested that the economy needs to be reopened by Easter in order to avert a collapse. But not everyone is on board with the idea. Governors have been pushing back against the president’s suggestion, claiming that such a move would only make the pandemic worse. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, argued against the idea earlier this week, claiming that public health experts in his state have rejected it.
According to some, both Trump and his allies know that loosening the restrictions too soon could jeopardize millions, but are willing to do so in order to save the sinking economy. In a scathing monologue on Saturday, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo went a step further, arguing that the president is “OK” with the elderly “dying off” as long as the economy remains in good shape.