But there was support for Trump from the highly respected infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci, who has consistently told the public that the coronavirus requires a tough response — even when the president appeared to be saying something different.
"I don't recall anything that was any gross distortion in things that I spoke to him about," he told Fox News.
Trump was keen to stop the country from getting "down and out", Fauci said.
The president has repeatedly insisted that he has successfully managed the Covid-19 pandemic, which is on track to take 200,000 lives in the country.
He points to early decisions to ban travel from China, where the virus first appeared, and from hotspots in Europe.
However, at minimum Trump delivered mixed messages at a time when the country was looking for guidance.
He veered from declaring himself the equivalent of a war-time president to contradicting government scientists and calling for early reopening of the economy.
In February — well after he had been briefed by advisors on the dangers posed by the novel coronavirus — he said that the virus might go away by April "with the heat".
In March, he described the government's "tremendous control over" the situation and said: "It will go away. Just stay calm."