The federal government’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak represents a critical test for President Donald Trump and his administration, but some analysts say it’s one that has already been marred by a series of mixed messages from the president himself. During a White House briefing with the coronavirus task force on Tuesday, Trump insisted that he “always viewed [the outbreak] as very serious.” “I’ve felt it was a pandemic before it was called a pandemic,” he said. “All you had to do was look at other countries.” Critics, meanwhile, point to several occasions in which Trump either downplayed the threat of the virus or overstated the government’s capacity to mitigate the crisis, leaving some Americans confused at a critical time. According to John Cohen, former Acting Undersecretary for Intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security, who is now an ABC News contributor, clear and accurate information from the government in times of crisis is necessary to ensure public safety. “The danger in providing inaccurate or politically-motivated information in a pandemic,” Cohen said, “is that people will either panic because they don’t have confidence that the government is protecting them, or people will disregard the crisis altogether and fail to

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