“Don’t ask me. Ask China.” This is what US President Donald Trump told an American journalist before unceremoniously ending the press conference at the White House rose garden on Monday.
Weijia Jiang, who works for CBS news, had challenged President Trump as to why he views coronavirus testing as a global competition given that more than 80,000 US citizens have lost their lives to the pandemic ever since its outbreak.
This was Trump’s first media briefing since April 27 in the White House rose garden with signs behind him that read “America leads the world in testing.”
Jiang asked Trump, who wasn’t wearing a mask, “Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we are still seeing more cases every day?” Trump gave a terse response: “Well, they are losing their lives everywhere in the world. Maybe that is a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question. When you ask China that question you may get a very unusual answer.”
Subsequently, Trump called upon another journalist, Kaitlan Collins of CNN, to ask her question. But Jiang pressed forth with her query and interjected the President: “Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?”
To this, Trump said: “I am not saying it specifically to anybody. I am saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that.”
Trump again asked for another question, then said, “Nah, that’s OK” and waved off CNN’s Collins when she approached the microphone.
Jiang and Collins wore masks to the news conference, as did most reporters, following the recent reports that two White House employees – an aide to Vice President Mike Pence and a valet to the president – had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Following the contentious exchange, Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California tweeted saying, “Asian Americans are Americans.”
<p “width=420″ lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Dear @realDonaldTrump: Asian Americans are Americans. Some of us served on active duty in the U.S. military. Some are on the frontlines fighting this pandemic as paramedics and health care workers. Some are reporters like @weijia. Stop dividing our nation.#trumppressconference https://t.co/SnyYVEgL3r— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) May 11, 2020
Trump has said that this week the US will pass 10 million coronavirus tests, which is nearly double that of any country in the world and more per capita than the UK, South Korea, Japan, France, Sweden, Finland and others.
He insisted on Monday his administration has “met the moment” and “prevailed” on coronavirus testing, even as the White House itself became a potent symbol of the risk facing Americans everywhere by belatedly ordering everyone who enters the West Wing to wear a mask.