US president Donald Trump has stumbled through one of his toughest interviews yet, drawing particular criticism for saying "it is what it is" when pressed on the death of 1000 Americans per day from coronavirus.
The US president was put on the spot and seemed to flounder when questioned on the rising number of deaths and hospitalisations.
"They are dying, that's true. And 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 that beset us," he told Jonathan Swan from Axios news.
When asked by Swan he thought the pandemic was under control, the president responded: "Well what's your definition of control? Under the circumstances, right now, I think it's under control."
Swan replied: "How? A thousand Americans are dying a day."
More than 152,000 deaths and nearly 4.7 million cases have been reported nationwide.
Trump claimed, as he had repeatedly done, that the US's high rate of testing was responsible for its high number of cases.
When Swan pointed to the number of US Covid-19 deaths as a population percentage to illustrate how bad the problem was, Trump said: "You can't do that" as he tried to use a different metric.
On several occasions, Swan appeared exasperated as he struggled to get Trump to answer his questions.
The president also appeared to shift the blame for the US's response onto state governors.
"We have done a great job," he said. "We've got the governors everything they needed. They didn't do their job – many of them didn't, some of them did."
Democrats seized on Trump's reaction as a sign to portray him as disinterested in the growing crisis.
"Seeing how incredibly incapable this man is should terrify us all," tweeted Representative Bobby Rush.
Ronald Klain, who served as the White House Ebola response coordinator during the Obama administration, meanwhile, noted that "1000 people a day is more deaths than America suffered, on average" during World War II.
During the wide-ranging interview, Trump also dismissed the legacy of Rep John Lewis following his death last month, saying the civil rights icon made a "big mistake" not coming to his inauguration.
Asked about the late civil rights activist's legacy Trump replied: "Nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have."
Longtime-Congressman Lewis, whose bloody beating at Selma helped galvanise opposition to racial segregation, died on July 17 and was laid to rest last Thursday.
Asked how history will remember Lewis, Trump replied: "I really don't know. I don't know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. I never met John Lewis, actually, I don't believe."
The president again wished Ghislaine Maxwell, the British heiress who is in prison in New York on charges of sex trafficking of underage girls, "well", saying: "her boyfriend died in jail, and people are still trying to figure out how did it happen. Was it suicide? Was he killed? And I do wish her well. I'm not looking for anything bad for her. I'm not looking bad for anybody.
"Yeah, I'd wish her well. I'd wish you well, I'd wish a lot of people well. Good luck. Let them prove somebody was guilty," he said.