"If you’re going to cough, please leave the room"

By Adam Carlson
June 17, 2019 09:39 AM

In a wide-ranging interview special that aired Sunday night on ABC, President Donald Trump discussed the economy, immigration, health care, his plan to woo voters in the 2020 election and Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Much of what Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos only reiterated familiar positions — including a new boast about an as-yet-unknown plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

But about halfway through the special, Trump conceded that Congress would probably eventually get access to part of his finances, some details of which (such as his taxes) he has steadfastly kept secret. The dispute is now working its way through the courts.

Trump’s unusual acknowledgment had another wrinkle: He asked to re-do his answer for the camera because someone the room audibly coughed while he was speaking.

“They’re after my financial statement,” Trump initially said. “Now, they should be after everyone else’s financial statement but they are after, the Senate, they’d like to get my financial statement. At some point, I hope they get it.”

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Trump told Stephanopoulos he “might” voluntarily release the statement and that “at some point I hope they get it because it’s a fantastic financial statement.”

As he finished speaking, a loud cough was heard in the background.

“Let’s do that over. He’s coughing in the middle of my answer,” Trump then said.

Video of the moment did not show who the culprit was, though Stephanopoulos suggested it was Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff.

“I don’t like that, you know, I don’t like that,” continued Trump, a former reality TV star and tabloid gadfly who has long been noted for his image consciousness.

President Donald Trump

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“If you’re going to cough, please leave the room. You just can’t cough. Boy oh boy,” Trump said.

The ABC crew then reset for him to discuss the issue again, sans interruption.

Among other topics in his interview with Stephanopoulos, Trump returned to his usual talking points on trade, his support of tariffs as a negotiating tactic despite some skepticism from voters and why he thinks people actually like his rude style on Twitter.

The president also touted his push to nominate a slew of conservative judges across the country, including two to the Supreme Court, and hailed his handling of the economy with characteristic bravado.

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He dismissed the growing body of polls suggesting his re-election is far from certain.

“A lot of people don’t want to talk about it, but they’re all Trump voters,” he claimed.

Later in the special, when Stephanopoulos remarked on Trump’s seeming taste for “churn” and conflict, he replied, “My life has always been a fight. And I enjoy, that I guess.”

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