Donald Trump‘s exchange with a female reporter during a press conference on Monday has raised a lot of eyebrows among his critics.
The president, 72, was taking questions from the press in the Rose Garden after giving an update on the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement when he called upon ABC News’ senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega.
As the mic was being passed to Vega, Trump remarked, “She’s shocked that I picked her. She’s like in a state of shock.”
Hearing that, Vega told Trump, “I’m not, thank you, Mr. President.” But he was insistent, mocking her by saying, “That’s okay. I know you’re not thinking. You never do.”
“I’m sorry?” Vega asked, before the president pushed her for her question.
It didn’t get much better from there. Vega asked Trump to clarify tweets he had made about the limits of the FBI investigation into his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Trump wasn’t interested in answering that, though — stopping her and saying, “What does that have to do with trade? I don’t mind answering the question but I’d like to do the trade questions first. How about talking about trade and then we’ll get to that? Who had a trade question?”
Vega pivoted, asking Trump whether he thinks his trade legislation will pass before Congress. After answering that question, he moved on to others before returning to answer Vega’s initial question about Kavanaugh.
Critics online called out Trump for how he spoke to Vega.
“That reporter deserves an apology. Period,” one wrote.
“Let’s never think it’s normal for a man to treat a woman — or ANYONE — the piggish way @realDonaldTrump talked to the Bay Area’s own, @CeciliaVega today,” said another. “It’s not normal. And no tax cut or deregulation will ever make it so.”
Others praised Vega for how she handled the situation. “Proud at how you kept your composure and resolve to continue to ask the questions the rest of the country wants answered,” one said. “Today you gave us a #FirstAmendment class @CeciliaVega.”
On his Monday night show, Late Night host Seth Meyers also criticized the president, asking, “How much of a sexist d–k can you possibly be?”
As the Daily Beast noted, the official White House transcript sent out to the press initially reported Trump as saying that Vega was “never thanking,” rather than “never thinking.” MSNBC said it may have been a “benign mistake,” but added that “it’s also possible someone in Trump World believes touching up official transcripts is an acceptable practice.” The White House has since corrected the official transcript.
Vega wasn’t the only female reporter target by Trump on Monday.
He took aim at CNN’s Kaitlan Collins too when she also tried to ask Trump about Kavanaugh, telling her, “Don’t do that. That’s not nice.”
Eventually, Trump gave Collins a chance to ask her question, which was if Kavanaugh would be disqualified if he was caught lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his testimony. Still, he didn’t answer Collins’ question directly, instead talking about his own feelings about alcohol.
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“You didn’t answer my question, Mr. President,” Collins pressed when he was done, one of two attempts she made to get his answer.
“You know what? You’ve really had enough,” Trump told her, moving on to another reporter. “You’ve had enough.”
After the conference, both Vega and Collins tweeted about the incident.
“A news conference means you get to ask whatever question you want to ask. #FirstAmendment,” Vega wrote, with Collins retweeting the message with a message of, “Ditto.”