President Donald Trump made a questionable remark on Monday during a press briefing at the White House, telling an Asian American reporter to “ask China” in response to a question she asked.
CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang asked Trump to explain why he was obsessed with comparing testing percentages with other countries. Earlier in the press briefing, Trump had errantly claimed that the United States was among the top nations in the world in terms of coronavirus testing on a per capita basis.
In fact, among countries where daily testing figures for the past 20 days have been made available, the U.S. is ranked below 10 other countries.
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“Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives, and we’re still seeing more cases every day?” Jiang asked Trump to explain.
Trump didn’t appear to be happy with the line of questioning. “They’re losing their lives everywhere in the world, and maybe that’s a question you should ask China,” he said. “Don’t ask me, ask China that question.”
A confused Jiang tried to follow up on Trump’s response, but he moved on to the next reporter, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.
Collins, however, deferred her question back to Jiang, who asked Trump to explain his answer again.
“Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?” Jiang said to Trump, regarding why he wanted her to question the Chinese government.
The president did not respond with an actual answer, but claimed he would tell that to “anyone who would ask a nasty question,” and tried to move on to the next reporter.
The final minute of Trump's news conference this evening pic.twitter.com/m6oGh1q9VF
— Axios (@axios) May 11, 2020
Collins assumed that she would be the next questioner, but Trump decided to move on to someone else. When Collins protested, the president abruptly ended the press briefing, exiting the staging area and refusing to answer any more questions.
Trump’s reaction to Jiang’s line of questioning, including telling her to “ask China,” was widely considered to be a racist comment, given that Jiang is Asian American. It’s not the only time Trump has seemingly considered a reporter’s race in framing his answers to questions at the White House, and indeed, Jiang, in a tweet from March, had detailed how a Trump official had called the disease “Kung-flu” to her face.
Other examples abound, dating back to the early days of Trump’s presidency. In early 2017, just one month after taking the oath of office, Trump was asked by American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan about his plans to promote revitalization efforts in urban centers throughout the country. Ryan asked Trump if he intended to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus in order to discuss those issues.
Trump told Ryan, who is Black, that she should be the one to set up a meeting between him and the group of lawmakers.
“I’ll tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?” Trump asked.
Ryan responded that she was “just a reporter,” but Trump continued.
“Set up the meeting. Let’s go, set up a meeting. I would love to meet with the Black caucus. I think it’s great. The Congressional Black Caucus.”
Trump has used racist language when describing the coronavirus itself, frequently invoking the name “Chinese Virus” to describe COVID-19, a move that health experts have warned is highly inappropriate.