"They want to kiss": Trump appears to blame troops and cops for spreading virus to his inner circle
US President Donald Trump Getty Images
President Donald Trump appeared to blame military and law enforcement officials for the spread of COVID-19 within his inner circle in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday when he alleged uniformed officers frequently wanted to "hug" members and "kissing" in gratitude for the "good job" that the administration has done.
"You know, it's very hard when you're with soldiers, when you're with airmen, when you're with marines. And I'm with - and the cops," the president said not long after reports surfaced this top advisor Hope Hicks had caught the virus. "I'm with them so often. And when they come here it's very difficult to say, 'Stay back. Stay back.' It's a difficult situation. "
Trump, who the White House claimed would be screened for COVID-19 "several times" a day, told Hannity that he would have a test after Hick's diagnosis was positive. The president later announced in a tweet early Friday morning that he and the first lady had both tested positive and would be quarantined for 14 days. (The diagnostic reveal became Trump's most popular and shared tweet, earning more than 1.2 million likes in eight hours, according to Agence France-Press.)
Related: Trump at "Serious Risk" for COVID-19 Complications
"I just took a test and we'll see what happens. I mean who knows?" Said Trump to Hannity. "But you know her very well. She is fantastic and she did a great job."
The President then returned to the issue of the troops and the police.
"But it's very, very hard when you're with people in the military or law enforcement and they come up to you and want to hug you. And they want to kiss you because we did a really good job for them," Trump added . "And you get closer and things happen. I was surprised to hear from Hope. But she's a very warm person with them, and she - she knows there's a risk, but she's young."
In early September, the Atlantic published a bomb exposé with detailed derogatory comments that Trump allegedly made privately to members of the military who were killed on duty. While Trump publicly made similar remarks, he derided the anonymous source report as "a shame" and "a fake story".
Both the New York Times and Washington Post pointed out that Trump apparently accused soldiers and police officers of passing the disease on to his team. Aaron Blake of the Post noted that Trump's remarks to Hannity were "a strange way" to explain Hick's diagnosis.
"As much as military and law enforcement officers appreciate what the Trump White House has done for them, do they really go to Trump's unremarkable senior counselor who rarely speaks publicly to hug them and try to kiss them?" he wrote.
CNN fact checker Daniel Dale has noted that Trump often tells unconfirmed "stories of macho men who burst into tears of gratitude around him," suspiciously calling him "sir."
Earlier this week, Trump told a rally crowd that he had just met a construction worker who was weeping with recognition. He's told similar stories, as Dale noted on Wednesday, of a miner, a farmer, a steel worker, and a man who "looked the size of a" soccer player. "
"The common trait of the character in these stories is that they are manly, tough and tall and that before meeting Trump in an environment with no independent witnesses they have never cried, cannot remember before, or just cried too cried when they were a baby, "said Dale.
Dale pointed out that Trump once gave a speech in 2019 in which he said a number of "strong, tough" farmers, ranchers and construction workers reportedly cried as they joined him at a 2017 Rules of Procedure signing ceremony.
"Half of them cried," he told the American Farm Bureau Federation, including a man Trump said was so tough that he might not have cried even as a baby.
"He was crying," insisted Trump. "He said, 'Sir, you gave me back my life. You gave me back my property.'"
The signing ceremony took place in front of the camera. Nobody cried.
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