Trump calls himself 'a wartime president' during pandemic

He is pushing Congress to approve a trillion-dollar economic recovery package that gives direct payments to Americans.
1:57 | 03/18/20

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Transcript for Trump calls himself 'a wartime president' during pandemic
We learned that congress has passed a coronavirus relief measure to provide sick leave for millions and free testing. The president calling for two checks to be sent directly to American families. Here's Cecilia Vega. Reporter: Facing a growing pandemic and an economic crisis, president trump today labeled himself a wartime commander in chief. I view it as, in a sense, a wartime president. Reporter: The president is pushing congress to approve a massive trillion-dollar economic recovery package, including $500 billion in direct payments to Americans. Two rounds of checks sent out on April 6th and may 18th. $300 billion for small businesses, and a $50 billion bailout for the hard-hit airline industry. His treasury secretary Steve mnuchin warning about what could happen without government intervention. He said that unemployment could skyrocket to 20%. That could rival the great depression. Are we looking at potentially historic devastation? No, I don't agree with that. No, I don't agree. That's a absolute, total worst-case scenario. But no, we don't look at that at all. Reporter: More and more, the president is now pointing the finger at China, repeatedly calling the disease "The Chinese virus." There are reports of dozens of incidences of bias against Chinese people in our country. Your own aide secretary Azar said he does not use this term. He said ethnicity does not cause the virus. Why do you keep using this? Because it comes from China. A lot of people think it's racist. It's not racist at all. No, not at all. It comes from China, that's why. Reporter: He's also on the defensive against claims that he wasted crucial time by downplaying the threat for months. One day it's like a miracle, it will disappear. Reporter: Today, president trump falsely claimed the virus, quote, "Snuck up on us." As for those checks, the white house says it will be based on income and family size. Congress has not signed off on the idea just yet. Cecilia Vega, thank you. Still ahead on "World news tonight" this Wednesday, Dr. Jen

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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