'It is what it is': Trump in interview on COVID-19 death toll in U.S.

The president told Axios in a recent interview that the "horrible plague" is "under control."
By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said in an interview that the coronavirus in the United States is under control and that the rising death toll "is what it is" as cases have surged in some states.

In the interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan last week that aired in full Monday night on HBO, Trump was asked how the virus is under control when 1,000 Americans are dying each day.

"They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague," Trump said.

Asked how he thinks 1,000 deaths a day is as much as the U.S. can control the outbreak, the president said, "First of all, we have done a great job. We've gotten the governors everything they needed. They didn't do their (jobs) — many of them didn't, and some of them did.

"Someday, we'll sit down, we'll talk about the successful ones, the good ones ... We had good and bad. And we had a lot in the middle," he added.

Speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room Monday, Trump stated that "the virus is receding" and said that they’ve seen "slow improvements" in hot spots across the South and the West, singling out Arizona, Texas and Florida.

The president said cases have increased in Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Missouri, but added, "I think you'll find that they're soon going to be very much under control."

As of Tuesday, more than 4.7 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S. and more than 156,500 people have died.

Trump on John Lewis

Also in the interview, Trump declined to say how history would remember Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the civil rights icon who died last month and was honored in several ceremonies last week.

"I don't know John Lewis," Trump said. "He chose not to come to my inauguration. He chose — I don't — I never met John Lewis actually, I don't believe."

He also wouldn't remark on whether he found Lewis impressive, saying, "I can't say one way or the other. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive."

"He didn't come to my inauguration," Trump repeated."He didn't come to my State of the Union speeches. And that's OK. That's his right."

When pressed further, he said Lewis "was a person that devoted a lot of energy and a lot of heart to civil rights, but there were many others also."

At the time of Trump's inauguration, Lewis told NBC News' "Meet the Press" that he did not believe Trump was a "legitimate president," citing Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Asked if he would try to forge a relationship with the president-elect, Lewis said he believed in forgiveness but added, "it's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."