Coronavirus: Trump hits out at 'nasty' question over Jared Kushner's stockpile gaffe

President reacts angrily when asked to explain his son-in-law's claims about life-saving equipment

Phil Thomas
New York
Saturday 04 April 2020 14:10 BST
Trump lashes out at 'nasty' question over Jared Kushner gaffe

Donald Trump has again lashed out at a female reporter after he was asked to explain what his son-in-law meant by claiming a federal stockpile of medical equipment was "ours" and not intended for the 50 states of the US.

At his daily coronavirus briefing on Friday evening, the president told Weijia Jiang of CBS News that she had asked a "nasty" question and that she ought to be ashamed of herself.

Mr Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, had caused confusion at Thursday's briefing by saying: "The notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile. It's not supposed to be states' stockpiles that they then use.

"So, we're encouraging the states to make sure that they're assessing the needs, they're getting the data from their local situations and then trying to fill it with the supplies that we've given them."

Critics questioned which Americans the equipment was intended to treat if not people living in the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and US territories.

Amid the criticism the White House rewrote guidance rules on the use of the federal stockpile to chime more closely with what Mr Kushner had said.

Asked by Jiang to explain, Mr Trump told her: "You know what? You ought to be ashamed. It's such a simple question. He said 'our'. And 'our' means for the country and 'our' means for the states – because the states are part of the country. Don't make it sound bad. Don't make it sound bad."

He added: "You just asked your question in a very nasty tone", adding that it was a "nasty" question and a "gotcha" question.

Pressed to explain whom the equipment was meant to help, Mr Trump said: "We have a federal stockpile and they have state stockpiles. And, frankly, they were – many of the states were totally unprepared for this. So we had to go into the federal stockpile. But we're not an ordering clerk. They have to have for themselves.

"... But we have a stockpile. It's a federal stockpile. We can use that for states, or we can use it for ourselves. We do use it for the federal government. We have a very big federal government."

Mr Trump has repeatedly criticised state governors for not being prepared for the coronavirus pandemic, although he has also insisted the crisis was unprecedented and could not have been predicted, and therefore neither he nor the federal government should be blamed for being unprepared.

The exchange with Jiang represented the latest example of the president appearing to lose his temper at a female journalist.

Asked last week by CBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor if he stood by comments he had made several days earlier saying he did not believe New York needed as many ventilators as their governor claimed, Mr Trump angrily told her to be "nice" and not to be "threatening". He denied making the comments, which he made in a live interview with Fox News presenter Sean Hannity.

Susan Rice, a national security adviser under Barack Obama, wrote in support of Alcindor: "You go, girl. Pathetic when insecure men can't stomach strong black women."

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