Donald Trump grew angry on Monday when reporters from multiple outlets, including FOX, asked about a newly released report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general. In it, blame is laid on the federal government for a severe shortage in COVID-19 testing and equipment for hospitals throughout the country.
When a question about the HHS report was first posed, Trump immediately dismissed the report as “just wrong,” asking, “Did I hear the word inspector general? Could politics be entered into that?”
Trump’s disdain for oversight caused him to cast a shadow over the validity of the watchdog report—but it was conducted by HHS Inspector Christi Grimm, who was just appointed as the Principal Deputy Inspector General of HHS in January. Her recent appointment was under the Trump administration, though she has more than 20 years of experience at the inspector general’s office. Furthermore, Grimm’s report was not based on opinion, as Trump suggests, but rather on conversations HHS had with 323 hospitals throughout the country from March 23–27.
The key takeaway from the HHS report was that hospitals are experiencing significant challenges as they strive to test and care for patients with known or suspected COVID-19 and while keeping their staff safe. “Hospitals described specific challenges, mitigation strategies and needs for assistance related to personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, staffing, supplies and durable equipment; maintaining or expanding facility capacity; and financial concerns,” the report read.
When Fox News reporter Kristin Fisher tried to ask about specifics of the report, Trump told her, “You should say ‘Congratulations, great job,’ instead of being so horrid in the way you ask a question.”
But Trump’s anger over the HHS report wasn’t just targeted toward Fisher. His most explosive comments were reserved for ABC’s Jon Karl. When Trump tried to dismiss the HHS report as politically motivated, Karl mentioned that the IG named on the report was “just appointed,” which is true. However, when Karl mentioned that Grimm had also served under the previous administration (she has served under several administrations dating back to Bill Clinton), Trump lost it.
“You’re a third-rate reporter. What you just said is a disgrace,” Trump admonished. “You will never make it.”
Trump’s antics come as no surprise to reporters or viewers. Since the start of the administration’s coronavirus briefings, he has often berated journalists, offered self-praise and treated the public addresses as virtual campaign rallies.