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Trump slams reporter for asking about HHS IG report on hospitals, PPE

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  • President Donald Trump got into a brief verbal spat with ABC News’ chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl during a press conference on Monday.
  • Karl, who recently published a White House tell-all, told Trump that the inspector general from the Department of Health and Human Services served during President Barack Obama’s administration.
  • Trump equated that official’s tenure as one that was allegedly mired in partisanship: “You mean the Obama administration,” Trump mocked. “Thank you for telling me that. So there’s the typical fake-news deal.”
  • “Look, you’re a third-rate reporter,” Trump eventually said to Karl. “And what you just said is a disgrace, ok?”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump got into a brief verbal spat with ABC News’ chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl during a press conference on Monday afternoon, and resorted to calling the reporter someone who “will never make it.”

Trump, who was responding to questions about his administration’s coronavirus response in the Brady Press Briefing Room in the White House, discussed a Department of Health and Human Services inspector general report warning of severe shortages of supplies for hospitals in the US — including testing kits and safety gear for physicians.

Trump downplayed the warnings in the report and said the country was doing an “incredible job” in addressing testing shortages. Trump claimed that the federal government should not be responsible for medical necessities, such as coronavirus testing, provided in local hospitals.

“States are supposed to be doing testing. Hospitals are supposed to be doing testing,” Trump said. “We’re the federal government. We’re not supposed to be standing on street corners doing testing. They go to doctors. They go to hospitals.”

Assistant secretary for health Adm. Brett Giroir offered a few remarks and questioned whether the OIG’s release of the report on Monday was prudent. 

“I don’t know the inspector general. I don’t know that person,” Giroir said. “I’ll tell you one thing I have a problem with — If there was such a problem … why did I find out about the test from them on the news media at 8’oclock this morning?”

“But that’s a discussion for the future,” he added.

The Office of the Inspector General at HHS is led by Christi Grimm, who assumed her position in January 2020. She has decades of experience with the Office of the Inspector General, dating back to 1999.

As Giroir walked away from the lectern, Trump stepped in: “How long has that person been in government,” the president said to the group of reporters.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl, who recently published a White House tell-all, answered that Grimm “did serve in the previous administration.”

“Oh, you didn’t tell me that,” Trump said sarcastically. “Oh, I see. You didn’t tell me that, John.”

“You mean the Obama administration,” Trump mocked. “Thank you for telling me that. So there’s the typical fake-news deal.”

“I told you when she was appointed,” Karl replied.

“Look, you’re a third-rate reporter,” Trump said. “And what you just said is a disgrace, ok?”

“Thank you very much, John,” Trump added, appearing to imitate Karl’s voice. “You will never make it.”

Karl’s new book, “Front Row at the Trump Show,” was released in March. In it, Karl reveals the inner machinations of the White House, including Trump’s behavior and confrontations with his senior staff.

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