Politics

Trump grilled over coronavirus and conspiracy theories within the tense city corridor

President Donald Trump asked an intense series of questions in a town hall on Thursday evening, touching on the coronavirus, conspiracy theories and his re-election campaign.

"Oh, you always do. You always do," Trump said once when NBC host's Savannah Guthrie asked him to denounce white supremacy, a sticking point after his response in last month's presidential debate even left some of his followers dissatisfied.

"Are you listening? I denounce white supremacy. What's your next question?" Said Trump in the town hall.

The Miami event, less than three weeks before election day, was hastily planned after the second presidential debate between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was canceled. The President had flatly refused to attend the event after the commission that sponsored the debate decided not to hold the second show in person, but virtually.

In his place, Trump and Biden took part in dueling town halls that were located in different states but were supposed to start at the same time. Trump's City Hall aired on NBC News, while Biden's event aired on ABC News from Philadelphia.

The bitter, fiery first debate at the end of September was marked by Trump's frequent interruptions and Biden's rough language. But fireworks also flew around the town hall on Thursday evening.

Guthrie kicked off the hour-long event by speaking to Trump about some of the unanswered questions related to his coronavirus diagnosis that was revealed in early October.

The president said he does not remember whether or not he was tested on the day of the first debate with Biden, which was less than a week before Trump announced he had signed Covid-19.

"Maybe I did it, maybe I didn't," Trump said.

Guthrie focused on the in-person events Trump hosted, including his signature campaign rallies, which recently resumed after the president was hospitalized with the coronavirus. Participants in the rallies are often tightly packed without a mask or other protective gear, and health experts have warned the events could facilitate the spread of Covid-19.

"As president, I have to be out there," Trump said, explaining that he "cannot be locked in a very nice room anywhere in the White House." He admitted that "doing it is risky".

Guthrie replied, "You want to be a leader, but you are also a leader and an example."

Trump was specifically asked about masks and said, "I'm good with masks." But he quickly added, "But just recently they came out saying that 85% of people who wear masks catch it."

Guthrie squeezed back, "You didn't say that, I know this study."

The president was apparently referring to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from mid-September that found that people who tested positive or negative for Covid-19 were wearing masks at similar rates, NBC reported.

The CDC tweeted on Wednesday that "the interpretation that more mask wearers are infected than non-mask wearers is wrong".

Guthrie also slammed the president on "QAnon," the controversial pro-Trump conspiracy theory that has reportedly gained popularity online.

The unsubstantiated theory claims, among other things, that Trump is secretly fighting against "Deep State" factions of powerful satanic pedophiles who planned against him and his supporters.

Trump previously said he knew little about QAnon – other than his followers like him, which he values ​​a lot.

Guthrie set out some of the core components of QAnon before asking Trump if he could specifically opt out.

"I don't know about QAnon," Trump began.

"I just told you," Guthrie replied.

"You told me, but it doesn't necessarily make it that way," said Trump.

The president turned the railing against radical left-wing "Antifa" demonstrators who were blamed by law enforcement officers for violent attacks in cities in the United States. "I know how they burn down cities that are run by Democrats, not Republicans," Trump said.

Guthrie returned to QAnon. "I just don't know anything about QAnon," Trump said again.

"You know," she said. Trump replied, "I don't know, I don't know. You tell me about it, let's waste the whole show. You start with white supremacy, I denounce it. You start with something else – let's go, keep asking me these questions. "

"Why don't you ask me about Antifa?" Trump continued. "Why don't you ask me about the radical left?"

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement after City Hall beat Guthrie that she acted as "an opponent of the debate and Joe Biden's deputy."

"President Trump handled Guthrie's attacks masterfully, interacting warmly and effectively with voters in the room," Murtaugh said.

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