President Donald Trump’s crowd of supporters erupted in cheer when he described their apparent failure to follow coronavirus guidelines for indoor events as “peaceful protest.”
During a press conference in Bedminster, N.J., a reporter confronted the president about his handling of the coronavirus outbreak as he noted that “dozens of people” of people in the room were not apparently following social distancing guidelines.
“You said that the pandemic is disappearing, but we lost 6,000 Americans this week and just in this room you have dozens of people who are not following the guidelines in New Jersey,” a reporter said.
As the crowd erupted booing the reporter’s remarks, Trump quickly responded insisting the reporter was “wrong.” He also offered another description of the lack of apparent adherence to safety guidelines.
“You’re wrong on that because it’s a political activity,” Trump argued, adding, “And it’s also a peaceful protest. … To me, they all look like they pretty much all have masks on.”
He insisted the lack of social distancing was a peaceful protest for political purposes because his supporters knew the reporter was “coming up.”
Trump continued, “You have an exclusion in the law it says peaceful protest or political activity. … You can call it political activity, but I’d call it peaceful protest because they heard you were coming up and they know the news is fake.”
The president’s remarks drew applause from the crowd.
See Trump’s remarks below:
Trump’s paying Bedminster customers boo when a reporter points out that many of them aren’t wearing masks, violating New Jersey law. Trump defends them by describing them as “peaceful protesters” of the media, then ends the news conference to a round of applause. pic.twitter.com/5DVow55B1G— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 8, 2020
According to The Hill, the group of supporters was earlier seen not wearing masks or social distancing, but later photos showed them wearing masks.
USA Today’s Courtney Subramanian also tweeted about the situation:
After pool reporters tweeted that guests were not adhering to New Jersey COVID-19 regulations, club members were given masks to wear.— Courtney Subramanian (@cmsub) August 7, 2020
Country club members awaiting the president pic.twitter.com/cm9FOvtoC9— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) August 7, 2020
For months, Trump was criticized for not publicly wearing a mask and some of his supporters have followed in his footsteps refusing to wear masks and disregarding social distancing guidelines.
It was not until coronavirus cases surged in states across the country that the president shifted his rhetoric on mask-wearing. During that press briefing on July 21, he admitted that things may “get worse before it gets better.”
Now, as the country’s reported number of coronavirus cases continues to rise so does the death toll. As of Saturday morning, there are nearly 5.1 million coronavirus cases and a death toll of 164,139 in the United States. There are also over 2.6 million reported recoveries from the virus.