Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles -Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another edition of "Late Night" in a makeshift home studio. And as you can see, we're trying yet another location in my house. We had been shooting in a garage, but we abandoned that because it was so cold that by the end of Monday's "Closer Look," my nose was redder than a cartoon drunk. I mean, look at that thing. It was like "Late Night with Andy Capp." No, I never would have made an Andy Capp reference in front of a live audience because silence would have been deafening, but these days that's the reaction to everything. So I figured, you know, why not let it rip? So today we're giving it a shot from a crawl space in the attic, and when I told my 4-year-old Daddy was going up to the attic for a while, he said the cutest thing. "If you and Mom are getting a divorce, just tell us." Kids, right? And it looks like I'll be doing these shows from home for a while now that the president has extended the social distancing guidelines to the end of April while he and allies try to memory-hole their early dismissal of the coronavirus outbreak. For more on this, it's time for "A Closer Look." ♪♪ Donald Trump has tried repeatedly to claim that no one could have seen this crisis coming, even though he was repeatedly warned in intelligence briefings in January and February that it was coming. In fact, the "New York Times" reported Tuesday that White House economists published a study last September that warned a pandemic disease could kill a half million Americans and devastate the economy. It went unheeded inside the administration. "Unheeded" is a generous description. In reality, what probably happened was an economist put the study on Trump's desk and said, "Sir, you should read this," and he said, "What is it, nerd?" And then the economist said, "It's about a possible pandemic." And Trump said, "What's a pandemic, Poindexter?" And then the economist said, "A pandemic is when a disease spreads," and before he could finish, Trump was asleep on his desk with a Burger King wrapper stuck to his face. Probably. And of course it went unheeded. Trump doesn't heed. He doesn't heed the law. He doesn't heed advice. And he especially doesn't heed studies. In fact, he makes it actively harder for everyone else to heed studies. For example, at his press conference Tuesday night, he turned the mic over to task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who took the room of reporters through a series of important slides of valuable data, and Trump just wandered over and stood right in front of the screen. "Hey, man, we're trying to read. Get out of the way." "Should I stand right here in front of the screen so you can't read it? Is that helpful, Dr. Birx? Dr. Birx? Maybe I'll stand in front of the part that represents the time I should have done something when I didn't do anything? What do you think, Fauci? Oh, oh, I got you again, Fauci. I got you to touch your face again. Oh, this is my favorite game, Fauci, and I always win. I'm just kidding, we're pals. Trump and Fauci, the original Lenny and Squiggy. That's what people say." Seriously, man, the only reason anyone tunes in to these briefings is to hear the scientists. They're the feature presentation. You're a dancing box of popcorn singing -- ♪ Let's go out to the lobby ♪ ♪ Let's go out to the lobby ♪ ♪ Let's go out to the lobby ♪ ♪ And ignore this terrifying data ♪ And that wasn't the only warning the Trump administration got. In fact, before Trump even took office, President Obama's outgoing team tried to prepare Trump and his aides for a scenario exactly like this one. -Days before Donald Trump took office, some of President Obama's advisers walked the incoming president's team through a hypothetical scenario remarkably like the one we're living through now. It was a briefing on what would happen if a quick-spreading virus were to race through London and Seoul, and in that scenario they presented governments imposing travel bans, there were shortages at hospitals across the country, and today, roughly two-thirds of those Trump administration officials who participated in that simulation are no longer in government. -Of course they aren't. This administration runs through employees faster than an ice cream shop on the Coney Island Boardwalk. Someone should have run a simulation for what happens when an egomaniac fires every staff member who ever disagrees with him. "After three years, the simulation does show it will be down to you, a professional liar, and a Victorian-era teenage ghost." I mean, Trump has had four, four Chiefs of Staff in four years, and the current one, Mark Meadows, officially started on the job yesterday. Man, what a time to start working for this White House. "All right, show me to my new office." "I can't, it's been turned into a field hospital. Also, you're the surgeon general now." And what's his next move, zookeeper at Joe Exotic's animal park? And even if the officials in that briefing were still in government, I bet they didn't learn anything anyway because Trump was standing directly in front of the screen. So Trump had many warnings that something like this was coming, and yet he and his aides repeatedly downplayed or dismissed the threat. He said cases would go down to zero, that it would miraculously disappear, and compared it to the flu even though coronavirus is much more infectious and much deadlier. -This is a flu. This is like a flu. You treat this like a flu. It's a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we'll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner. The flu in our country kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me. Over the last ten years, we've lost 360,000. These are people that have died from the flu, from what we call the flu. -What do you mean, what we call the flu? It's the flu. We all call it the flu. Trump talks about regular words like they're complicated medical jargon. "We in the scientific community call it the flu. It's called that because it started over in Europe and then it flew here." Also basically everything he said in that clip was wrong. Turns out you aren't an expert in science just because you look like a science experiment. He's like a bunch of body parts a dead gangster has sewn together and brought to life by a guy who went to school with Dr. Frankenstein but dropped out sophomore year. I can just see him being tormented by villagers with torches -- "Ah, fire bad, but not that bad, basically the same as the flu. Ah!" Trump should be in a documentary where Jane Goodall teaches him sign language. "Donald, can you say the words 'distribution emergency'?" -Distribution evergency. -And then less than a month ago, Trump tweeted, "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down. Life and the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 22 deaths. Think about that." Any time a world-renowned idiot like Donald Trump tells you to think about that, that's your cue to exit the conversation. He's like the dumbest guy at a cocktail party trying to make conversation by telling you something he read on a Snapple cap. "Broccoli, you know, only vegetable that's also a flower, so, that's something to think about." Of course, the lie that coronavirus is just like the flu did obvious damage. You know how many people heard that and then repeated it? Even if you hated Donald Trump and knew not to trust a word he said, everyone had that one friend or relative on the text chain who said, "You know, it's not going to be so bad. It's going to be like the flu." Or I should say, "It's going to be like what we call the flu." And now that his White House is projecting as many as 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus, Trump has once again shifted his tone. -I've had many friends, businesspeople, people with great actually common sense, they said, "Why don't we ride it out?" A lot of people have said, a lot of people have thought about it, "Ride it out, don't do anything, just ride it out and think of it as the flu." But it's not the flu. It's vicious. -You're the one who said it was the flu. Those friends of yours were you. Or more likely, your other personalities. That's serious Trump, angry Trump, sweaty Trump, and silly Trump. "And they all told me this is just like the flu. Silly Trump even said it with an old-timey car horn. [ Horn honks ] [ Laughs ] Oh, Silly Trump, you're incorrigible." And then Trump tried to claim that despite repeatedly ignoring the problem, failing to surge hospital capacity, and falling behind on testing which inhibited our ability to trace and quarantine cases the way South Korea did, his administration actually deserved credit for bringing the projected death toll down to only 100,000 to 200,000. -What do the models suggest is on the low end if you have full mitigation? -It says 100,000 to 200,000. Anything -- it's a lot of people, right? It's a lot of people. Well, you didn't ask the other question -- What would have happened -- because this is the question that I've been asking Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx for a long time, and they've been working on this for a long time -- The question is, what would have happened if we did nothing? -That is what you did. You did nothing, and you do nothing. You work less than CBD oil. And doing nothing is the only thing you're good at. Even when you had your own game show, you were only on it for like five minutes at the end. You were Alex Trebek if he only showed up for Final Jeopardy! "Let's take a look at those scores, and, yikes, looks like someone doesn't know their potent potables." And really it's a shame you're president right now because both you're deeply ill-equipped for the job and because if you weren't president, you would have been great at quarantine. All you'd have to do is sit at home, order takeout, watch TV, and tweet like the rest of us, and those are all your favorite things. You would have killed it in quarantine. President Hillary Clinton would have held you up as an example of how to do social distancing.