Trump on backfoot in televised coronavirus grilling

President struggled to defend his record on Covid-19 pandemic

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US President Donald Trump was on the back foot at the start of a live televised interview on Thursday night, struggling to defend his record on coronavirus nationally and within his own home.

Mr Trump was grilled by voters and NBC News moderator Savannah Guthrie in a “town hall” format event in Miami, Florida, .

He offered only vague answers and evasions when asked repeatedly about Covid-19.

Mr Trump said he “possibly” took a coronavirus test on the day of his first presidential debate against his Democratic rival Joe Biden, amid concerns that the president was infectious and exposing others to Covid-19.

He declined to answer whether he favoured a “herd immunity” strategy, which would involve allowing the virus to spread through the population until it fizzled out – an approach that would result in many mo

re deaths.

Instead, Mr Trump said the “cure can’t be worse than the problem” and pointed to New York, the headquarters of his property empire, which has been under a heavy Covid-19 lockdown for months.

“People are leaving New York by the thousands and you’re going to have a hard time building it up again,” he said.

When asked about the bizarre but increasingly popular conspiracy theory QAnon, Mr Trump said he did not know about the group, but was aware that they “are very much against paedophilia, they fight it very hard”.

He was asked about his willingness to hand over power should he lose the election on November 3.

He repeated previous claims about “thousands of ballots” going missing and other instances of voter fraud that could cast doubt on the results.

When asked by a voter to explain how he would reduce healthcare costs, Mr Trump said he would “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, but did not lay out a cohesive plan.

Mr Trump was grilled about reports that he owes $421 million in debts.

The president called the claims a “whole hoax” but later indicated that the figure may be correct.

He called the $400m sum a “peanut” compared to the value of his property portfolio.

“I don’t owe Russia money … I don’t owe money to these sinister people at all,” Mr Trump said.