Donald Trump postponed a planned phone call with Chinese president Xi Jinping on Thursday night so he could be interviewed by Fox News host Sean Hannity.
The president was due to discuss the ongoing coronavirus pandemic with his Chinese counterpart at 9pm, but said he delayed the call to appear on the popular Fox News programme.
That came on the same day that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US reached 80,000 on Thursday – surpassing the number reported in China.
Mr Hannity thanked Mr Trump for calling in, saying: “Apparently, I heard you were in the press conference, you had a 9pm call with president Xi of China. Let me start there, how did that go?”
In response, the president said: “Well, because of you I made it at 10.30pm.”
He added: “That just shows when you have the number one rated show on television I better change things around. No, right after this call I’ll be talking to him.”
Hours earlier, Mr Trump told reporters at Thursday’s White House press briefing that he would be discussing coronavirus with the Chinese president.
“I’m speaking to president Xi tonight. We’ll have a good conversation I’m sure”, said Mr Trump.
That came as the president said the rising number of coronavirus cases in the US was a “tribute to our testing”, and that “China tells you numbers.”
Trump, who has referred to Covid-19 as “Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus” in recent weeks, has previously praised Xi Jinping for his handling of the pandemic.
He tweeted late Thursday night that he had a “very good” conversation with President Xi, and that the pair had discussed coronavirus in great detail.
He added: “China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the Virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”