President Donald Trump scrapped a planned trip to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta on Friday, and both he and White House officials gave differing explanations for the cancellation before it was announced that the trip was back on.
While the visit was not initially listed on the president's official schedule, Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday night that Trump would sign the $8.3 billion funding bill to help combat the virus “tomorrow as he visits the CDC in Atlanta.”
But a White House official told reporters on Friday morning that the president was "no longer traveling to Atlanta today."
"The CDC has been proactive and prepared since the very beginning, and the president does not want to interfere with the CDC’s mission to protect the health and welfare of their people and the agency," the official said.
Trump wound up signing the coronavirus bill in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, where he was asked about his canceled trip to the CDC.
Alex Azar, Trump's secretary of Health and Human Services, jumped in and said: "He’s actually sent me. I’m going to go down."
Trump then said that he might be going after all, and gave a different explanation for why the trip had been put off.
“They thought there was a problem at CDC with someone who had the virus,” but it “turned out to be negative,” he said.
"They’ve tested the person very fully, and it was a negative test. So I may be going. We’re going to see if they can turn it around with Secret Service," Trump said, not mentioning any fears of interfering with scientists' work.
The White House announced the trip was back on late Friday morning, with the president now slated to go to Atlanta after touring tornado damage in Tennessee and before heading to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.