WATCH: CBS’ Weijia Jiang Maneuvers Trump Into Saying He’ll Get Tested for Coronavirus in 4 Seconds Flat
CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang displayed near-Jedi level skills when she got President Donald Trump to pledge he’d take a coronavirus test after days of arguing he didn’t need one — and all it took was this one neat trick.
On Friday, Trump held a lengthy press conference to declare the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency, but it quickly turned into a pageant of mutual praise between Trump and the assembled business leaders and coronavirus task force members.
Trump was repeatedly asked about his contact with an infected individual, and as he had before, downplayed the risk and said he would not take any precautions based on that contact.
“No, we have no symptoms whatsoever,” Trump told one reporter who asked if he’d take any precautions to protect himself or his staff after the encounter, which took place at Mar-a-Lago last week. Trump was photographed with Fabio Wajngarten, the Brazilian government’s communications secretary.
And when Trump was pressed again about the exposure, Trump argued — among other things — that he didn’t know the man who was infected, and claimed not to have seen the photograph he’d taken with the man.
“I have no idea who he is, but I take pictures and it lasts for, literally, seconds,” Trump said. “I don’t know the gentleman that we’re talking about. I have no idea who he is. I haven’t seen the picture. I said, ‘There’s a picture of somebody,’ but I take sometimes hundreds of pictures a day. And that night I was taking hundreds of pictures. So I just don’t know.”
But after days of saying he would not get tested and minutes of similarly insisting he didn’t need to take any precautions as a result of the exposure, Weijia Jiang got Trump to reverse himself in a matter of seconds.
“The person you were standing next to, whether you know who he is or not, tested positive for coronavirus,” Jiang began, citing the important medical fact that you don’t actually have to know a person in order for them to transmit the coronavirus to you.
“Dr. Fauci said this morning, ‘If you stand next to somebody who tested positive, you should self-isolate and get a test,'” Jiang continued, referring to an interview Dr. Anthony Fauci gave Friday morning. “You say your White House doctor is telling you something different. Who should Americans listen to?”
“I think they have to listen to their doctors, and I think they shouldn’t be jumping to get the test unless it’s necessary,” Trump replied, and appeared to argue that a contributing factor to his own low risk was that “I haven’t seen the picture. Somebody said there’s a picture with somebody taking a picture with me, but I haven’t seen it. ”
“Well, doctors have said you might have it even if you don’t have symptoms,” Jiang explained, then asked “Are you being selfish by not getting tested and potentially exposing…”
Trump then began an evolution that would last several seconds, first noting “Well, I didn’t say I wasn’t going to be tested.”
“Are you going to be?” Jiang asked.
“Most likely, yeah. Most likely,” Trump replied, completing the pivot.
“When do you think that will happen?” Jiang asked, as Trump noted “Not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway,” then said “Fairly soon.”
“Will you let us know the results?” Jiang asked.
“We’re working on that. We’re working out a schedule,” Trump said.
So in those few seconds, Trump went from saying he didn’t need a test and wasn’t going to get one, to claiming not only that he intended to be tested, but that there was already a schedule in the works.
The obviousness of the lie was exposed later when the White House released a statement confirming that Trump had been exposed to at least two infected people, and that he would not, in fact, be getting tested.
So Americans are now left with the comforting knowledge that the man charged with guiding the country through the coronavirus pandemic has been exposed to the virus twice, won’t be tested, will continue to be in contact with world leaders and others, and can be manipulated into a complete public reversal in the time it takes to touch your face.
Here’s hoping nobody ever asks him “Aren’t you being selfish by not launching nukes?”
Watch the clip above via CBS News.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.