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President Donald Trump abruptly ended a Saturday news conference after CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid refused to stand down after trying to joust with the president in furtherance of the now-standard media gotcha game.
Speaking at Trump National Golf Club, in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he would sign a series of executive actions to extend and expand COVID-19 relief, in response to the Democratic Party obstructing the passage of legislation, the president shut down the reporter when she tried to challenge him on the Veterans Choice program.
Reid had initially charged that Trump was “trying to set a new precedent, that the president can go around Congress,” which prompted the president to point out that Democrats “have obstructed people from getting desperately needed money.”
“No, no you’re finished” 🔥
Fake News Mad. pic.twitter.com/oE6POkWAFF
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 8, 2020
When he tried to go to another reporter, Reid switched gears and challenged Trump over saying he got the Veterans Choice bill passed, pointing out that it was passed in 2014.
“No, no, you’re finished,” the president replied, drawing cheers from the room.
Still, Reid persisted, “You said you passed Veterans Choice. It was passed in 2014… it was a false statement, sir.”
“OK. Thank you very much, everybody,” Trump then said, before walking away — this too drew applause from onlookers.
The disparity here is that Trump signed the VA MISSION Act in 2018, modifying the eligibility criteria from the Choice program — this measure gave vets greater access to health care, expanded benefits for caregivers and improved the VA’s ability to recruit and retain the best medical providers.
Frustrated with the gridlock in Congress, resulting from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stonewalling any movement on a relief package, President Trump signed a total of four executive orders on Saturday.
The “China virus relief,” as he characterized the effort, includes suspending payroll taxes and extending expired unemployment benefits — unemployment benefits of $400 per week, down from the $600 benefit that had been in place, will be retroactive to the week of August 1.
Additional measures include a deferral of student loan payments, waiving of interest for federally held loans through the end of 2020, and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for all single-family mortgages insured by the FHA.
The broad effort was sufficiently summed up in the tweet below:
Trump isn't just signing executive orders today–he's giving Pelosi a giant middle finger.
— thebradfordfile™ (@thebradfordfile) August 8, 2020
The full press conference, to include the president signing the executive orders, can be seen in the video below from Fox Business:
(Source: Fox Business)
The president warned on Friday that he was poised to take action — talks that were underway between Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, broke down on Friday.
“If Democrats continue to hold critical relief hostage I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” he said.
While there are concerns about Trump’s pandemic relief efforts hurting social security funding, Washington Examiner’s chief congressional correspondent, Susan Ferrechio, believes Trump helped his reelection chances with the executive action.
“He definitely helped his cause by doing this because what he’s doing is two things, he is taking away a talking point from Democrats, who keep talking about Republicans as being unwilling to help people,” she said on America’s Newsroom. “He’s saying look, here I am taking action because Congress won’t help me, so I’m going around them.”
“President Obama did this quite a bit rather effectively,” Ferrechio continued. “I think President Trump did that today. He showed he’s taking action in an emergency to try to get things done. That always resonates with voters. I think Democrats are in a tough spot if they sue over this.”
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