U.S. President Donald Trump stormed out of a press conference about the coronavirus on Monday after a testy exchange with two female reporters, including one of Asian descent whom he told to “ask China” about the U.S. death toll.
The president fled after attempting to deflect a question from CBS reporter Weijia Jiang, who asked why Trump was treating COVID-19 testing as a competition amid tens of thousands of American deaths. Trump also suggested that the question was “nasty” — one of Trump’s go-to insults for women who challenge him.
The incident played out in the Rose Garden at the White House on Monday afternoon, where masked reporters were taking turns approaching stationary microphones to ask their questions. The microphones appeared to be switched off between questions.
“You’ve said many times that the U.S. is doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing,” Jiang said.
“Yes,” Trump replied.
“Why does that matter?” Jiang asked. “Why is this a global competition to you, when every day Americans are still losing their lives and we’re still seeing more cases every day?”
Trump, who rarely ever talks at length about the now 80,000 Americans who have died due to the pandemic, immediately took issue with Jiang’s question.
“Well, they’re losing their lives everywhere in the world,” he said. “Maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question, OK? When you ask them that question you might get a very unusual answer.”
Trump then pointed to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins for the next question.
“Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?” Jiang interjected, just as Collins was approaching the microphone. Jiang was born in China and emigrated to the U.S. at the age of two.
“I told you, I’m not saying it specifically to anybody,” Trump said. He then accused Jiang of asking a “nasty question,” and tried to move on entirely by skipping over Collins, despite the CNN reporter’s protests.
Collins insisted that she had questions to ask, and that she also wanted to give Jiang a chance to respond to Trump’s remarks.