Cecilia Vega is the ABC News reporter who set social media abuzz on Monday when she had a bizarre run-in with President Trump.
Trump called on Vega to ask a question at a White House news conference about the new US trade deal with Mexico and Canada. But just after calling on Vega, Trump said, “she’s shocked that I picked her. She’s, like, in a state of shock.” There were chuckles.
Vega stood up and said, “I’m not thinking about that, Mr. President.”
Trump replied, “That’s okay. I know you’re not thinking. You never do.”
“I’m sorry?” replied Vega.
“Go ahead,” said Trump. “Go ahead.”
You can watch the exchange here.
Here’s what you need to know about Cecilia Vega:
1. This Was Not Her First Run-In With the Administration
Vega is the senior White House correspondent for ABC News. She has racked up plenty of confrontations with the White House. Back in August, for example, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was fielding questions about the guilty plea by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Vega got in the first question, and it was very blunt. “Did President Trump commit a crime?” she asked.
Sanders said no. “Just because Michael Cohen made a plea deal doesn’t mean that implicates the president on anything,” Sanders argued. But Vega wasn’t done.
“Can you say the president has never lied to the American people?” she asked, adding, “so many look back at the tape of him on air force one saying he knew nothing about the payments, when in fact we now know he knew everything about the payments. So has he lied?
“I think that’s a ridiculous accusation,” snapped Sanders. You can see their full exchange here.
2. Vega Said Trump’s Attacks on the Media Were ‘Incitement’
At a rally in Phoenix, Arizona last August, President Trump told a crowd that journalists are “dishonest people” who don’t like America.
Vega covered the rally for ABC News and said afterwards that Trump’s remarks were a form of “incitement” to violence. She said that it felt like “only a matter of time” before someone got hurt. You can watch Vega’s remarks here.
She said”this was incitement plain as simple…the president said journalists hate this country. this was an assault that goes on and on. it really feels like a matter of time before someone gets hurt.’
3. Her Husband is a Highway Patrol Officer
Vega is married to Ricardo Jimenez, a California Highway Patrol officer. Jimenez was awarded the meritorious achievement award in 2015 after he pulled a drunk and depressed man to safety from the edge of the Bay Bridge. Jimenez was slightly injured as he pulled the man to safety, since the man struck him repeatedly.
In awarding Jimenez the achievement award, his superior officers called him a “true hero.” Captain Christopher Sherry, who commands the San Francisco area of highway patrol, said, “His bravery and willingness to risk his life for another human being is commendable. Officer Jimenez lived up to his sworn oath as a public protector that afternoon. The danger was very real, yet Officer Jimenez selflessly jumped into action and in doing so placed himself in harm’s way to save a life. He is a true hero.”
Vega has spoken about her family’s struggles, too. In 2014, she revealed that her father had struggled with heroin addiction; Vega made the revelation while she reported on the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
4. She is an Emmy-Award Winning Broadcaster
Vega, 41, grew up in San Francisco, and her first job in journalism was as a newspaper reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle. She later went to work for KGO-TV ABC7 in San Francisco.
While she was at KGO-TV, she was part of a team that won an Emmy in 2010 for their local reporting.
5. She Is a Graduate of American University
Vega graduated from American University in 1999. She credits the university, and its DC location, with preparing her to be a journalist; she advised current AU students to take advantage of what the school — and the city — have to offer. “Utilize what you have at your disposal. Being in Washington, DC, you have so much at your fingertips. Your professors are in the newsroom in the morning and teaching classes at night –it is an invaluable education. The ability to capitalize on these opportunities separates AU students from other students.”
Vega grew up in San Francisco and first started working in journalism as a reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle.