‘Don’t ask me. Ask China’: Trump clashes with reporters then abruptly leaves press briefing

Donald Trump abruptly halted a press conference on Monday after being challenged by an Asian American reporter whom he told: “Don’t ask me. Ask China.”

With the stars and stripes at his back, Trump held his first press briefing since 27 April in the White House rose garden, flanked by testing equipment and swabs and signs that proclaimed: “America leads the world in testing.”

But during a question and answer session, Weijia Jiang, White House correspondent of CBS News, asked why the president constantly emphasises that the US is doing better than any other country when it comes to testing.

“Why does that matter?” she queried. “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 retorted: “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.”

The president then called on another reporter, Kaitlan Collins of CNN, but she paused as Jiang interjected: “Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?”

The president replied: “I am not saying it specifically to anybody. I am saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that.”

The CBS correspondent pointed out: “That is not a nasty question.”

Collins, at the microphone, then tried to ask her question, but Trump said he was now looking to someone at the back. As Collins repeatedly objected, the president turned on his heel and left the podium.

Trump has frequently been criticised for adopting a particularly harsh or patronising tone at press conferences to women in general and women of colour in particular. Jiang was born in China but immigrated to America at the age of two.

Tara Setmayer, a political commentator, tweeted: “Another disgraceful, racist, temper tantrum by Trump b/c he was asked a pointed question by @weijia… Trump can’t handle smart, assertive women.”

Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California tweeted: “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.”

Earlier at the briefing, Trump claimed that the US’s testing capacity is “unmatched and unrivalled anywhere in the world, and it’s not even close”. More than 9m tests have now been performed, he said, and where three weeks ago roughly 150,000 per day were done, the total is now 300,000 per day and will go up.

Trump said this week the US will pass 10m tests, nearly double the number of any country and more per capita than South Korea, the UK, France, Japan, Sweden, Finland and many others. But critics point out that South Korea implemented its testing much quicker, flattening the curve of cases so fewer tests were required.

The president announced his administration is sending $11bn to states, territories and tribes to boost testing. He described it as an effort to “back up” states but did not unveil the national testing strategy that many experts have called for.

Trump also claimed without basis that “if somebody wants to be tested right now, they’ll be able to be tested”, echoing a spurious claim he made way back on 6 March.

“In every generation, through every challenge and hardship and danger, America has risen to the task,” he said. “We have met the moment and we have prevailed.”

Trump, who has been encouraging states to reopen, promised: “We will defeat this horrible enemy, we will revive our economy and we will transition into greatness. That’s a phrase you’re gonna hear a lot.”

Democrats expressed scepticism. Daniel Wessel, Democratic National Committee deputy war room director, said: “Trump says we ‘prevailed’ on testing, but his response has been a complete failure and made this crisis worse than it needed to be.

“Trump still hasn’t helped states reach the testing capacity they need, every American who wants a test can’t get a test, and he is only now taking steps that should’ve happened weeks ago. While Trump wants to declare mission accomplished, the American people are still suffering and will not forget how he gave up on them.”

The campaign group Protect Our Care noted that it was 13 days since Trump said the US will run 5m daily tests “very soon” Zac Petkanas, director of its coronavirus war room, recalled that Donald Trump promised that anyone who wants a test could get a test and that the US would soon be testing 5m Americans per day.

“This wasn’t true when he said it and it’s not true today. What is true is that more than 80,000 Americans have lost their lives in large part because Donald Trump still hasn’t taken testing seriously. The only thing that the president has prevailed at is making America first in reported deaths and infections.”

The White House itself is not immune from coronavirus. Katie Miller, the press secretary for vice-president Mike Pence, and a personal valet who works for Trump both tested positive last week. Those entering the West Wing are now required to wear a mask or face covering, after a new memo was issued on Monday. Trump and Pence are being tested every day. Trump, however, is exempt from wearing a mask in the White House. It’s not clear if Pence will wear one or not.

The president said it is “shocking” how many people come in and out of the White House every day. “I’ve felt no vulnerability whatsoever,” he said.

During the press conference, Trump’s presidential election opponent, Joe Biden, tweeted: “Donald Trump and his team seem to understand how critical testing is to their own safety. So why are they insisting that it’s unnecessary for the American people?”

[The Guardian]

Donald Trump falsely claims Nancy Pelosi deleted video telling people to go to Chinatown

President Donald Trump joined conservative supporters in accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of covering up her visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown in late February.

“Crazy Nancy Pelosi deleted this from her Twitter account. She wanted everyone to pack into Chinatown long after I closed the BORDER TO CHINA. Based on her statement, she is responsible for many deaths. She’s an incompetent, third-rate politician!” Trump tweeted April 16.

But there’s no evidence Pelosi ever tweeted that video of herself in Chinatown. So she could not have deleted it, as Trump said.

The video Trump tweeted is 17 seconds long, a snippet of a Feb. 24 report by KPIX, a San Francisco Bay Area CBS affiliate. Pelosi in the KPIX report is shown walking through San Francisco’s Chinatown District and encouraging people to visit its shops and restaurants, which were seeing a decline in business since the coronavirus outbreak began in China.

At the time, KPIX reported, there were no active cases of coronavirus in San Francisco. There were 21 active cases in California, but they were in hospital isolation or in quarantine.

Pelosi says in the video: “You should come to Chinatown. Precautions have been taken by our city. We know that there is concern about tourism, traveling throughout the world, but we think it’s very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come.”

We wondered if Trump was right that Pelosi deleted that video from her Twitter account. PolitiFact’s fact-checking process includes asking a person who makes a claim for the evidence that supports their statement. So we asked the White House press office and Trump’s re-election campaign for the date of the original post, which account posted it, and when it was deleted. We did not get any information.

Pelosi’s office told PolitiFact that they never posted the video that Trump claimed was deleted.

We did our own digging and found no trace of the video posted from her account.

Politwoops, a project of ProPublica, tracks deleted tweets by elected officials. According to that tracker, @SpeakerPelosi’s latest five deleted tweets span from Feb. 22 to April 13. Not one is about going to Chinatown.

We also reviewed what Pelosi’s Twitter page looked liked since Feb. 24, based on the history saved by Wayback Machine, an initiative of the Internet Archive. The archived pages of Pelosi’s Twitter account do not show the video Trump tweeted. (Wayback Machine did not have archives of the page as they looked on Feb. 24-26, but any deletion of that video would presumably be more recent.)

Trump suggests that Pelosi is hiding her actions from Feb. 24. But a transcript of her comments that were captured in Trump’s video appear on both her House Speaker website and congressional website. As of April 16, the Chinatown visit was one of the featured photos in the homepage of her congressional website.

Pelosi’s Twitter page currently has a video of her Feb. 24 visit to Chinatown. It shows her making a fortune cookie. Text accompanying the video says: “It was a pleasure to try my hand at making fortune cookies at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory (with a little guidance from owner Kevin Chan, of course). The message inside? ‘United We Stand.’”

On Feb. 25, she posted a series of tweets saying Americans needed a coordinated response to the coronavirus and that the House would advance a funding package “that fully addresses the scale and seriousness of this public health crisis.”

It’s worth noting that throughout January and most of February, U.S. officials said that the coronavirus risk to the American public was low and that they were not seeing community spread of the virus. By Feb. 25, there were 53 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States and no deaths, according to data compiled by the World Health Organization.

On Feb. 28, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doctor said it was possible that a reported case in California “could be the first instance of community spread — meaning the illness was acquired through an unknown exposure in the community.” But it could also be that the patient was exposed through contact to a traveler who was infected, said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. The immediate risk to the general American public remained low, she said.

The cancelling of mass gatherings was not yet common in the United States in February, the CDC noted in an April report.

Trump’s messaging around this time also did not suggest that people avoid large crowds. The same day of Pelosi’s trip to Chinatown, Trump tweeted: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”Our ruling

Trump tweeted that Pelosi deleted a video of her telling people to go to Chinatown.

Pelosi on Feb. 24 did encourage people to go to Chinatown in San Francisco. But we found no trace of her posting or deleting the video Trump shared.

At the time of Pelosi’s remark, U.S. health officials said the risk of the coronavirus was low to the American public since they had no reports of community spread. Trump during this time also said the virus was under control in the United States.

Neither the White House nor Trump’s re-election campaign provide evidence to support Trump’s claim. In the absence of evidence, we rate this claim False.

[Politifact]

Donald Trump Shares “Chinese Virus Facts” That Are Pure Propaganda and Bunk

Donald Trump shared a video of Fox News’ Jesse Watters making a poor attempt at gaslighting you, saying:

1) “Trump did not cut funding for the CDC. It has increased since he took office.”

FACT: True CDC funding has risen, because Congress denied Trump’s multiple requests to cut CDC funding. Requests still happening today: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/486817-trump-budget-chief-holds-firm-on-cdc-cuts-amid-virus-outbreak?amp

2) “Trump did not get rid of the NSC Pandemic unit.”

FACT: Trump absolutely dismissed his Pandemic Response Team in 2017, here is video of Trump bragging about firing the team in 2018: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/coronavirus-video-trump-pandemic-team-cut-2018-a9405191.html

3) “Trump did not call the “China Virus” a hoax.”

FACT: Here is video of Trump calling COVID-19 a hoax: https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1233570800223084544?s=21

4) “Trump did not silence scientists.”

FACT: All government scientists are banned from talking to the public and all communications of government scientists must go through Mike Pence: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/us/politics/us-coronavirus-pence.html

5) “Trump never told governors they are on their own.”

FACT: Trump told governors they are on their own and his administration is not a shipping clerk: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-19/trump-told-governors-to-buy-own-virus-supplies-then-outbid-them

6) “Google is working on a website to test coronavirus”

FACT: Trump said earlier that they are working with Google to create a virus testing website for all Americans. Watters however claimed the press said that Google has no plans to do it, which was fake news. That’s not what the press pointed out at all and in fact Google itself was forced to fact-check Trump their website was not ready for all Americans but just testing in the Bay Area and had no plans to roll out to the rest of the country:
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/03/trump-misrepresents-google-coronavirus-website/

Reality

This is what Fox News does, it creates an alternative reality for their viewers by ignoring key facts, withholding context, and making stuff up.

Make no mistake this is propaganda. If you saw the media arm of a political party in any other country you would say this is exactly what propaganda looks like. If you watch Fox News you are willfully accepting lies.

Photo of Trump remarks shows ‘corona’ crossed out and replaced with ‘Chinese’ virus

President Donald Trump on Thursday was photographed reading from notes at the daily coronavirus task force press conference where the word “corona” was crossed out and replaced with “Chinese” to described COVID-19.

The photograph, taken by a Washington Post photographer, showed the word crossed out in what appeared to be Sharpie and in the president’s own handwriting.

The image comes as Trump has ramped up his description of the coronavirus as a “Chinese virus” as he’s been questioned about whether he considers the label to be racist.

“It’s not racist at all,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “It comes from China, that’s why.”

There has been significant public criticism of the term, which critics say will inflame anti-Asian sentiment aimed at Asian Americans and Asian American-owned businesses here in the U.S.

John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, told NBC Asian America that Trump’s use of the term could have a dangerous impact.

“I absolutely think that words used by him matter,” he said. “Certainly use of this term by him and others even in the last couple of weeks have led to a noticeable incline in hate incidents that we are seeing. I do think that there is a correlation.”

Administration officials have defended the term by pointing out that the Chinese government has in recent weeks attempted to blame the U.S. for the virus, which originated in the Wuhan region of China.

Since 2015, the World Health Organization has warned against giving outbreaks geographic or national labels in order “to minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies and people.” Some prominent geographic or national labels from pandemics past, like Spanish Flu, have even been misnomers.

Amid increased criticism for his administration’s slow response to the outbreak, Trump has repeatedly highlighted his travel restrictions on China, which were instituted early on in the crisis.

“If people would have known about it, could have been stopped in place, it could have been stopped where it came from, China,” Trump told reporters Thursday in defending his administration’s efforts.

Congressional allies have risen to Trump’s defense amid the backlash. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas., told reporters Wednesday that “China is to blame” because the Chinese culture is “where people eat bats and snakes and dog and things like that.”

Cornyn’s comments, which were also met with backlash, referred to reports that the virus was likely to have originated in a Chinese “wet market.”

[NBC News]

Trump defends use of the term ‘China virus’

President Donald Trump defended his use of the term “China virus” to describe Covid-19 on Tuesday, saying he uses the term because China tried to blame its spread on the American military.”I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them. Our military did not give it to anybody,” Trump said during a White House press briefing.”China was putting out information, which was false, that our military gave this to them. That was false. And rather than having an argument, I said I had to call it where it came from. It did come from China. So, I think it’s a very accurate term,” he said.

The President also pushed back at suggestions that using the term creates a stigma.

“I don’t think so. I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma,” Trump said.CNN previously reported that a prominent Chinese official has promoted a conspiracy theory that the US military could have brought the novel coronavirus to China — and it did not originate in the Chinese city of Wuhan.Parts of Chinese social media, and even the country’s government, appear to have launched a concerted campaign to question the origin of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 170,000 people globally as of Tuesday midday, according to CNN’s case tracker.The first reported cases of the virus were in Wuhan, and scenes from the city in lockdown shocked the world. The lockdown gave an early indication for how seriously global authorities would need to combat the fast-spreading virus.

[CNN]

Reality

Some Chinese news outlets and officials have pushed the unfounded claim the American military gave China the coronavirus, but this is beyond petty to reciprocate.

Media

CBS Reporter: WH Official Called Coronavirus ‘Kung Flu’ to My Face Today

A CBS News White House correspondent revealed Tuesday that an unnamed White House official referred to the deadly coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” directly to her face. “Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back,” Weijia Jiang wrote on Twitter.

Erick Erickson, a conservative evangelical radio host and pro-Trumper, wrote in response to Jiang’s tweet: “I don’t care that you are offended by ‘Kung Flu,’ ‘Wuhan virus,’ or ‘Chinese virus,’” adding, “I’m sorry you’re that sensitive and eager to embrace Chinese communist propaganda, but I don’t care.” President Trump and several of his Republican allies have repeatedly used terms such as the “Chinese Virus” and the “Wuhan Virus,” which have been condemned as xenophobic and racist. The World Health Organization renamed the virus “COVID-19” so that it is not associated with a group of people or a geographical location, which can lead to stigmatization. On Tuesday morning, the president said on Twitter that some states “are being hit hard by the Chinese Virus, some are not being hit practically at all.” 

[The Daily Beast]

Trump Bashes Cuomo For Wanting All States Treated Equally for ‘Chinese Virus’: ‘Keep Politics Out Of It’

President Donald Trump is keeping his fight with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo going, tussling over how to address the coronavirus pandemic.

“Cuomo wants “all states to be treated the same.” But all states aren’t the same,” Trump tweeted, before using a name for the disease critics have slammed as racist. “Some are being hit hard by the Chinese Virus, some are being hit practically not at all. New York is a very big “hotspot”, West Virginia has, thus far, zero cases. Andrew, keep politics out of it….”

Trump’s tweet is a continuation of the swipes he launched on Cuomo after Monday’s teleconference between the president and state governors across the country. Cuomo has repeatedly expressed frustration that the federal government isn’t doing enough to respond to the virus, so Trump accused him of being the one who has to “do more.”

Cuomo fired back by saying “YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.” He also said he’d be “happy” to do Trump’s job if the president hands control of the Army Corps of Engineers over to him.

[Mediaite]

Trump tweets about coronavirus using term ‘Chinese Virus’

President Donald Trump drew backlash Monday night after posting a tweet using the phrase “Chinese Virus.”

After giving an address Monday afternoon in which he said the country may be headed toward recession and urged social distancing, he later tweeted his confidence in and support for various sectors while including the offensive remark.

“The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!” he wrote.

Many officials, including the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have criticized the phrase as inaccurate and potentially harmful in promoting racist associations between the virus and those from China.

The comments prompted massive backlash from many social media users, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said the tweet was misplacing blame and could put more Asian Americans in danger.

Chinese officials condemned Trump’s comments, saying his tweet smeared China.

“The U.S. should first take care of its own matters,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.

Trump has previously referred to COVID-19 as a “foreign virus,” and he has also retweeted a supporter who used the term “China Virus.” His newest reference comes days after CDC Director Robert Redfield agreed at a House hearing that it was “absolutely wrong and inappropriate” to use labels like “Chinese coronavirus,” as the virus had expanded beyond China to other parts of the world. There were roughly 3,500 confirmed cases of the illness in the U.S. as of Monday night.

Many others have condemned the practice of identifying the illness by location or ethnicity, including the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which called on its fellow legislators to “help us prevent hysteria, ignorant attacks, and racist assaults that have been fueled by misinformation pertaining to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” by sharing only confirmed and verifiable information.

While some, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., publicly condemned the racism tied to the pandemic, others, such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have continued to use the offensive language, pointing to outlets that have used similar wording.

The Asian American Journalists Association released guidelines for responsible reporting in February to curb “fueling xenophobia and racism that have already emerged since the outbreak.”

Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., previously told NBC News that it’s possible that several GOP legislators have continued to use the rhetoric to distract from Trump’s handling of the pandemic. She said it’s likely that officials are using China or Asian Americans as scapegoats “versus actually dealing with the problem at hand.”

Along with the virus’ spread, there has been an increase in racist incidents and discrimination targeting Asian Americans. Two Hmong guests endured harassment and were later barred from staying at first a Super 8 and then a Days Inn in Indiana. In California, an Asian teen was bullied, assaulted and sent to the emergency room over fears surrounding the pandemic.

De Blasio held a media roundtable Wednesday to condemn coronavirus-related discrimination against Asian communities in New York.

“Right now, we’ve seen particularly troubling instances of discrimination directed at Asian communities, particularly in Chinese communities,” he said. “This is unacceptable.”

CORRECTION (March 16, 2020, 11:05 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misidentified the U.S.’s primary health protection agency. It is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not the Center for Disease Control and Protection.

[NBC News]

Trump calls coronavirus a ‘foreign virus’ in Oval Office address

President Donald Trump referred to the novel coronavirus as a “foreign virus” in his Oval Office address on Wednesday night.

The characterization of the global pandemic as a foreign virus aligns with how some Trump allies have described the coronavirus in recent days, which critics have called xenophobic.

“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” the President said.

“I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.”

The rare Oval Office address to the nation by Trump came as his administration has faced harsh criticism for his response to the pandemic. The President said he was “marshaling the full power of the federal government” to confront the growing public health crisis, including a monthlong halt in travel from Europe to the United States.

The address came the same day the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic, with more than 1,200 cases in the US.

The outbreak has not just sparked fear and anxiety in countries like the US and the UK — it has also seen a rise in xenophobic and racist assaults against people of East Asian, and particularly Chinese, descent. And panic over the virus continues to pummel the Chinese business sector in cities like New York, where fear of the disease has driven people away from east Asian neighborhoods.

The President’s reference to the virus as “foreign” echoes a tweet he shared earlier this week promoting a US southern-border wall as a way to protect Americans from the “China Virus.”

Trump, adding his own comment to the tweet, said, “Going up fast. We need the Wall more than ever!”
The post was met with fierce pushback from critics, including Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, who tweeted, “A wall won’t stop a virus. Racism won’t stop a virus.

“Do your job.”

[CNN]

Reality

Donald Trump referred to the novel coronavirus as a “foreign virus” in his Oval Office address on Wednesday night, echoing Fox News and Republicans who have sought to frame the Chinese people as “bat eaters” from an “uncivilized world.”

The White House had to issue a correction after Trump was unable to read directly from a teleprompter and announced he is banning goods trade from Europe although he is not banning goods trade from Europe.

“And these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo but various other things as we get approval,” Trump said. “Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing.”

The White House quickly noted that the restrictions were focused on people, not boxes, and Trump later appeared to clarify his remarks in a tweet.

Media

Trump swipes at ‘little wise guy’ Brad Pitt, Korean film ‘Parasite’ during rally

President Trump took aim at the winners of the Academy Awards at a rally in Colorado Thursday night, singling out newly-minted best supporting actor winner Brad Pitt and best picture winner “Parasite.”

Trump blasted the Academy for giving its top honor to Bong Joon-Ho’s dark comedy about conflict between two families of different economic status, saying “The winner is a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We’ve got enough problems with South Korea, with trade. And after all that they give them best movie of the year?”

The movie was the first winner in a language other than English.

Trump also castigated Brad Pitt, who won for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood,” by taking a shot at the actor’s victory speech.

“And then you have Brad Pitt. I was never a big fan of his. He got up and said a little wise guy statement. Little wise guy. He’s a little wise guy,” the president said.

In his acceptance speech, Pitt, a longtime supporter of liberal causes, said the time he had been given to speak was “more than the Senate gave John Bolton,” in reference to the former White House National Security adviser who offered to testify in the Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed.

“I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it and in the end the adults do the right thing,” Pitt added.

The president then went on to ask “Can we get ‘Gone with the Wind’ back?” The Civil War epic won the 1939 award for Best Picture in 1940.

Trump has criticized the Academy Awards telecast for several years, dating back to before his candidacy for president. As president, he has frequently blamed ratings declines for the ceremony on actors’ attacks on him.

[The Hill]

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