After researchers at Columbia University this week estimated about 36,000 lives in the United States could have been saved from the novel coronavirus had social distancing and other restrictions been put in place a week earlier in March, the White House on Thursday pointed a finger at China, and the president called it a “political hit job.”

Disease modelers at Columbia University said in a study released Wednesday that 61.6% of deaths and 55% of infections nationwide could have been avoided if preventative measures in place on March 15 had been enacted a week earlier. That equates to about 35,927 deaths and 703,975 cases.

Asked about the study on Thursday, President Donald Trump said “Columbia’s an institution that’s very liberal,” and without providing any evidence, added, “I think it’s just a political hit job, if you want to know the truth.”

“I was so early,” he told reporters outside the White House, defending his administration’s response to the virus. “I was earlier than anybody thought.”

Read more at ABC News.