Trump abruptly ends press conference after heated exchange with reporters

President Trump abruptly left his coronavirus news conference in the Rose Garden on Monday after tense exchanges with two female reporters.

The president took questions for nearly 40 minutes after delivering remarks touting his administration’s efforts to scale up coronavirus testing. But the briefing ended suddenly after Trump clashed with journalists from CBS News and CNN with whom he has previously sparred. 

Weijia Jiang of CBS asked Trump, who frequently compares the United States’s testing ability and mortality rate with those of other countries, why the statistics surrounding the virus are a “global competition” to him.  

“Well, they’re losing their lives everywhere in the world, and maybe that’s a question you should ask China,” Trump responded. “Don’t ask me. Ask China that question, OK? When you ask them that question, you may get a very unusual answer.”

“Why are you saying that to me specifically?” asked Jiang, who was born in China and raised in West Virginia.

“I’m not saying it specifically to anybody. I’m saying it to anybody that would ask a nasty question like that,” Trump replied before moving on to another reporter. The president has frequently blamed China for the outbreak, suggesting the country could have stopped the spread of the coronavirus had it acted sooner.

When CNN’s Kaitlan Collins then attempted to ask a question, the president sought to move on and call on a different journalist. The president claimed Collins didn’t immediately respond when he called on her. When she persisted in trying to ask a question, Trump ended the news conference and walked back into the Oval Office.

The president has in the past chafed at questions from reporters during coronavirus briefings.

Trump previously encouraged Jiang to take it “nice and easy,” called NBC’s Peter Alexander a “terrible reporter,” described ABC News’s Jon Karl as “third-rate,” urged Yamiche Alcindor of “PBS NewsHour” to “act … a little more positive” and dismissed CBS News’s Paula Reid as “disgraceful.”

The White House last month sought to get a print reporter to change seats with CNN so the network’s correspondent would sit several rows back from their usual spot during a coronavirus briefing. The reporters declined, and Trump left that briefing without taking questions.

Trump, who often decries negative coverage as “fake news” and refers to certain outlets as the “enemy of the people,” has lashed out at the media repeatedly the last couple of days. He appeared particularly bothered by “Meet the Press” airing a deceptively edited clip of Attorney General William Barr, calling for anchor Chuck Todd to be fired for the incident.

Tags CBS Chuck Todd CNN Coronavirus coronavirus briefing Donald Trump media William Barr

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