Trump Dodges Questions About His ‘Shooting’ Tweet — Announces End Of U.S. Funds To WHOby Matt Perez
In a Friday press conference on relations between the United States and China, President Trump announced he's terminating the country's relationship with the World Health Organization amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic—but also refused to take questions from the media, avoiding any discussion of his controversial “shooting” tweet about protests in Minneapolis.
In April, Trump put a 60-90 day hold on U.S. funding to the WHO, accusing it of "severely mismanaging and covering up" the outbreak.
On Friday, he accused the WHO of misleading the world due to pressure from China, though Trump himself praised the country for its transparency up into March and did not make major moves in February to address the oncoming pandemic.
Trump did not take questions after his statements, which follows protests in Minneapolis over the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd while being taken into police custody.
Amid the Minneapolis protests Thursday night, Trump threatened in a tweet with historically racial connotations, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."
Right before his press conference on Friday, Trump attempted to backpedal, linking his threat against demonstrators to the seven people shot during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky Thursday night, saying "It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement" and that the only people that should have a problem with it are "the haters and those looking to cause trouble on social media."
Derek Chauvin, the former officer who is seen on video with his knee pressed against Floyd's neck as he says "I can't breathe," was taken into custody by state authorities Friday afternoon and charged with murder and manslaughter, though the three other arresting officers who were relieved on their positions have not yet been arrested.
Key background: A video of Floyd's death while being held down by a white police officer in Minneapolis went viral on Monday. Chauvin, along with former officers Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, arrested Floyd on suspicions that he used a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. Local, state and federal authorities are investigating the incident, which was filmed by a bystander. Protests began soon after, with teargas being shot at unarmed demonstrators and a police precinct being set afire Thursday night. These events are all occurring during the ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. The United States leads the world in confirmed cases of the virus with 1,729,185 and in reported deaths with 101,963.
News Peg: Amid the killing of Floyd and the pandemic, Trump has shifted his focus toward Twitter's new policy of fact-checking select tweets. On Thursday, after Twitter added context to an inaccurate claim he made about absentee ballots in California, Trump signed a legally fraught executive order attempting to curtail liability protections for Internet companies under Section 230. During the signing, Trump admitted that it would probably be challenged in court and any new regulations would likely require the cooperation of Congress. Twitter subsequently added a disclaimer to his protest tweets, saying it "violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence" but that it would keep it accessible for "the public's interest," with Trump later tweeting "REVOKE 230!"
Crucial Quote: “I did not know that he was going to tweet. He certainly can. It's just not helpful. It's not helpful," Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said of Trump's comments on Twitter.
Chief Critics: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Trump’s executive order a distraction in a statement Thursday. “Clearly and sadly, the president’s executive order is a desperate distraction from his failure to provide a national testing strategy to defeat Covid-19."
Regarding the defunding of the WHO, billionaire Bill Gates, one of its largest voluntary donors, said in April that the move is "as dangerous as it sounds...the world needs WHO now more than ever."
Responding to Trump's tweets, including the assertion that he's "very weak," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Friday said, "Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis."
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