It had been over two weeks since President Donald Trump last held a press briefing from the White House to address the latest updates on coronavirus, but he returned to the podium on Monday to discuss the global pandemic. After an hour of questions and answers, the congenial atmosphere between Trump and the media in the Rose Garden once again soured.
The moment came seconds after CBS reporter Weijia Jiang asked Trump why he keeps comparing America’s coronavirus testing rate to that of other countries as if it was a “global competition.” Trump answered, “Ask China.” He then called on CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins but refused to hear her question after Collins appeared to yield the floor to Jiang to continue her questioning. Jiang asked, “Sir, why are you saying that to me specifically, that I should ask China?” Trump answered that he was “saying that to anybody that would ask a nasty question like that” and then abruptly ended the briefing and walked off stage.
Trump and Collins Have Clashed Before
This is not the first time Trump has had a heated exchange with the CNN reporter. During a White House presser on April 23, Trump berated Collins and refused to answer her question about the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump said to Collins, “The problem is you don’t want the truth. … Not CNN. … CNN is fake news. Don’t talk to me.”
One day later, a White House official tried to move Collins from her front-row seat at the press briefing, but she refused to move. After being asked to switch seats with Chris Johnson, a reporter with the Washington Blade, who was sitting in the sixth row, Collins tweeted about the altercation.
Collins said, “Tonight the White House tried to have me, and only me, swap seats with another reporter several rows back. We both refused to move from our seats that were assigned well in advance.”
Trump Told Jiang to ‘Keep Your Voice Down’ During a Previous White House Briefing
During the White House presser on April 20, Jiang challenged Trump about not warning Americans about coronavirus while it was “spreading like wildfire through the month of February.”
“Why did you wait so long to warn them,” Jiang asked. “And why didn’t you have social distancing until March 16?”
In response, Trump first asked what news outlet she was with and then said to her, “Nice and easy. Nice and easy. Just relax.” Jiang hadn’t raised her voice. She continued to question him again, but Trump cut her off and responded, “Keep your voice down.” Her voice was not raised.
Jiang kept pressing about Trump’s delay in issuing a real warning to the American people about coronavirus, highlighting that Trump instead continued to hold massive press rallies and campaign events. But Trump dismissed the idea that he was late in responding to coronavirus. He said, “I was very very early” and “the Democrats did nothing.” Jiang countered, “By the way, when you issued the ban, the virus was already here.”