President Donald Trump spent much of his Labor Day tweeting an article in the Atlantic that labeled him dismissive to American soldiers who died in combat and were unwilling to visit their graves. The most explosive claim in the piece is that Trump called fallen soldiers “fools” and “losers,” which he denies.
So it’s no surprise he looked piqued when asked about the article at a press conference Monday.
When Reuters’ reporter at the White House, Jeff Mason, who wore a mask, started asking his question, Trump cut him off.
“You have to take this off. Just take it off, ”Trump said, pointing to Mason’s mask.
“How many feet are you away?”
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“I’m just going to speak a lot louder,” Mason replied. “That is better?”
Trump sighed and replied, “It’s better, yes. It is better.”
Mason then went on to ask, “Mr. President, some people have found it hard to believe your rejection of the Atlantic story because you spoke about John McCain. Do you understand that?”
Trump called McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for five years, a “loser”. He said at the time, “I like people who haven’t been captured.”
The President responded to Mason’s question by saying, “No, I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all because… I’ve always been on the other side of John McCain. John McCain liked wars. I’ll be a better warrior than anyone, but if we wage a war we will win it. “
“The story is a hoax,” said Trump of the Atlantic piece. “Written by a man who has an incredibly bad story … It’s a made up story. It’s a completely made up story. “
“Who would say something like that? Only an animal would say that? “
Trump then spent four minutes refuting the Atlantic piece, saying that “15 people came out” to check his version of events.
On Thursday evening, the Associated Press and the Washington Post reported details that were consistent with those on The Atlantic, while Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin reported on Friday that she had also confirmed important details in the article.
Trump has a muddled history with masks. He said for a long time he would prefer not to wear one, in July he said he was “anything for it”. Shortly thereafter, he was first seen in public wearing one. Since then he has often appeared without one.
On Thursday, at a campaign event that saw few faces covered, Trump said he felt Joe Biden “likes a mask”. He continued, “This guy has some big problems.”