Trump abruptly ends press brief­ing

Con­cerns over virus spread­ing in White House

Kuwait Times - - Internatio­nal -

WASHINGTON: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump abruptly ended his coro­n­avirus press brief­ing on Mon­day af­ter get­ting into a testy ex­change with an AsianAmer­i­can re­porter. CBS News re­porter Wei­jia Jiang asked Trump why he con­tin­ued to in­sist that the US was do­ing better than other coun­tries when it came to test­ing for the virus. “Why does that mat­ter?” she asked. “Why is this a global com­pe­ti­tion when, every day, Amer­i­cans are still los­ing their lives?” “They’re los­ing their lives ev­ery­where in the world,” Trump replied. “And maybe that’s a ques­tion you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that ques­tion, OK?”

Jiang, who iden­ti­fies her­self in her Twit­ter bio as a “Chi­nese born West Vir­ginian,” pushed back. “Sir, why are you say­ing that to me specif­i­cally?” she said, im­ply­ing it was due to her race. “I’m say­ing it to any­body who would ask a nasty ques­tion like that,” Trump said. He then at­tempted to move on to an­other re­porter as Jiang con­tin­ued to press him about his re­sponse. Trump called on an­other fe­male re­porter but then im­me­di­ately called on some­one else. When the woman tried to ask her ques­tion, Trump abruptly ended the press con­fer­ence and walked back into the White House.

The in­ter­net was quick to rally round Jiang, with the hash­tag #StandWithW­ei­ji­aJiang soon trend­ing on Twit­ter. “I #StandWithW­ei­ji­aJiang against Trump’s racist tantrums,” tweeted “Star Trek” ac­tor and prom­i­nent Asian-Amer­i­can ac­tivist George Takei. Re­porter and CNN po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst April Ryan, who has also been on the re­ceiv­ing end of Trump’s words, tweeted: “Wel­come to the club! This is sick­en­ing! It is his habit!” Trump, who has never been shy about his dis­like for the news me­dia, has of­ten locked horns with jour­nal­ists dur­ing his coro­n­avirus press brief­ings. More than 80,000 peo­ple have died in the US from the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, out of more than 1.3 mil­lion cases, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures on Mon­day from Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity, by far the high­est death toll of any coun­try.

Virus in White House

Mean­while, US Pres­i­dent has dis­missed con­cerns over the pos­si­ble spread of coro­n­avirus in the White House but said he may limit con­tact with Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence. Trump, speak­ing to masked re­porters in the White House Rose Gar­den, sug­gested that Pence was in quar­an­tine af­ter his press sec­re­tary tested pos­i­tive, though he did not say it out­right. Katie Miller, the spokes­woman for Pence, who heads the White House’s coro­n­avirus task force, tested pos­i­tive for coro­n­avirus last week along with a per­sonal valet to Trump.

Three mem­bers of the task force have since gone into quar­an­tine - in­fec­tious dis­ease ex­pert An­thony Fauci, Robert Red­field, direc­tor of the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, and Stephen Hahn, head of the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion. A Pence spokesman de­nied over the week­end that the vice pres­i­dent was also in quar­an­tine but Trump sug­gested he was when asked on Mon­day whether he had con­sid­ered lim­it­ing his con­tact with him.

“I would say that he and I will be talk­ing about that,” Trump said at an oc­ca­sion­ally testy press con­fer­ence.

“Dur­ing this quar­an­tine pe­riod, we’ll prob­a­bly talk,” Trump said. “I have not seen him since then.” “We can talk on the phone,” he said of Pence. “He tested neg­a­tive, so we have to un­der­stand that, but he comes into con­tact with a lot of peo­ple.”

‘No vul­ner­a­bil­ity what­so­ever’

Trump sought to play down any con­cerns about an out­break of the virus in the cramped quar­ters of the West Wing, where the pres­i­dent works out of the Oval Of­fice. “We want to keep our coun­try run­ning so we have a lot of peo­ple com­ing in and out (of the White House) and many of those peo­ple, most of those peo­ple, are tested,” he said. “Ev­ery­body com­ing into the pres­i­dent’s of­fice gets tested, and I’ve felt no vul­ner­a­bil­ity what­so­ever,” he said. Trump, who is des­per­ately seek­ing to re­boot the econ­omy ahead of the Novem­ber elec­tion, said the US was mak­ing “tremen­dous strides” in ramp­ing up test­ing and the num­ber of virus in­fec­tions is “com­ing down very rapidly.”

He said it was essential to get the coun­try re­opened. “The peo­ple want our coun­try open,” the pres­i­dent said. “Some states could be mov­ing more quickly,” he said. “Peo­ple are dy­ing in the lock­down po­si­tion too.” Trump abruptly ended the press con­fer­ence af­ter an ex­change with a CBS News re­porter who asked him why when Amer­i­cans were los­ing their lives did he keep in­sist­ing that the US was do­ing better than other coun­tries when it came to test­ing. “Well, they’re los­ing their lives ev­ery­where in the world,” Trump said. “And maybe that’s a ques­tion you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that ques­tion, OK?” The CBS re­porter, Wei­jia Jiang, who is of Chi­nese-Amer­i­can ori­gin, than asked Trump “Sir, why are you say­ing that to me specif­i­cally?” “I’m telling. I’m say­ing it to any­body who would ask a nasty ques­tion like that,” Trump replied be­fore abruptly end­ing the press con­fer­ence.

‘Scary to go to work’

Though it may ap­pear spa­cious in movies and TV shows, the West Wing is ac­tu­ally rather cramped, mak­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing dif­fi­cult. It houses not just the pres­i­dent’s of­fice but also those of some of his closest ad­vis­ers, the press brief­ing room and the desks of White House cor­re­spon­dents, who work el­bow to el­bow. Kevin Has­sett, a se­nior eco­nomic ad­vi­sor to the pres­i­dent, told CBS over the week­end that it is “scary to go to work.” “I would be safer sit­ting at home in my house than go­ing into a West Wing that with even all the test­ing in the world and the best med­i­cal team on Earth, is a rel­a­tively crammed place,” Has­sett told an­other net­work, CNN.

In a memo is­sued on Mon­day, the White House in­structed all staff to wear a mask when in­side the West Wing, ex­cept when at their desks. Un­like a num­ber of other world lead­ers, the 73-year-old Trump has not been wear­ing a mask in pub­lic. He said Mon­day that Amer­i­cans have “learned about face masks.” “The good and the bad, by the way,” he said. “It’s not a onesided thing, be­lieve it or not,” Trump said with­out elab­o­rat­ing. The United States is the coun­try the hard­est-hit by the virus with more than 80,000 deaths and 1.3 mil­lion in­fec­tions.— Agen­cies

‘Don’t ask me, ask China that ques­tion, OK’

WASHINGTON: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing a press brief­ing about coro­n­avirus test­ing in the Rose Gar­den of the White House on May 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.