President Donald Trump gave a sarcastic almost-apology after journalist Yamiche Alcindor caught him in a lie during Monday’s White House press briefing.
Alcindor asked Trump about claims he did not take COVID-19 seriously at the beginning of the outbreak, saying she had interviewed someone who said the infection hit their family after they didn’t take the crisis seriously “mainly because the president wasn’t taking it seriously.”
“Are you concerned that downplaying the virus maybe got some people sick?” the “PBS NewsHour” correspondent asked Trump.
The president responded by talking about his popularity and expressing confidence in his prospects for reelection.
“A lot of people love Trump. A lot of people love me. You see them all the time. I guess I am here for a reason, and for the best of my knowledge I won,” Trump said. “And I think we are going to win again. I think we are going to win in a landslide.”
Trump continued with a rambling rant about his efforts to combat the pandemic and bragged about practicing social distancing and claiming he had not left the White House in months. Alcindor reminded him of campaign rallies he held in February and March.
“I don’t know about rallies…I know one thing. I haven’t left the White House in months except for a brief moment to give a ship the Comfort,” he said.
“You held a rally in March,” Alcindor interjected.
The president insisted he didn’t remember having any events and gave a dismissive apology.
“I don’t know. Did I hold a rally? I’m sorry. I hold a rally. Did I hold a rally?,” he said. “Let me tell you, in January, when I did this, we had virtually no cases and no deaths.”
Trump held five rallies in February and one on March 2. Four days later, he traveled to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta and a site affected by tornadoes that tore through Tennessee. He also visited his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida. On March 19, Trump traveled to the FEMA headquarters.
Alcindor doesn’t hesitate to hold Trump accountable for his words and actions. In March, Trump sparred with the journalist on two separate occasions. On March 16, he told Alcindor she asked a “nasty question” when she inquired about his decision to dissolve the White House’s pandemic team in 2018. Days later, the pair faced off again after she pressed him about his accusations against governors who were requesting medical supplies.
“Thank you, Mr. President, I have two questions,” Alcindor started during a press briefing on March 19. “The first is, you’ve said repeatedly that you think that some of the equipment that governors are requesting, they don’t actually need. You said New York might not need 30,000 — ”
Trump interrupted the question to deny any missteps and accused Alcindor of being abrasive.
“Why don’t you people act — why don’t you act in a little more positive?” he said. “It’s always trying to get you, get you. Get you, get you. And you know what? That’s why nobody trusts the media anymore.”
“Excuse me, you didn’t hear me,” Trump added. “That’s why you used to work for The Times, and now you work for somebody else. Look, let me tell you something, be nice. Don’t be threatening. Don’t be threatening. Be nice. Go ahead.”