President Trump lashed out at a reporter Wednesday during a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö when pressed on the conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is the basis of an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.
“What did you want President Zelensky to do about Vice President Biden and his son Hunter?” Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason asked Trump, after the president had asserted that “Biden and his son are stone-cold crooked.” Variations of that question had been repeatedly posed during the news conference. Trump never gave a direct reply.
“Are you talking to me?” Trump asked Mason. “We have the president of Finland. Ask him a question.”
“I have one for him,” Mason responded. “I just wanted to follow up on the one that I asked you.”
“Did you hear me?” the president expostulated, and demanded Mason ask Niinistö a question. “I’ve given you a long answer. Ask this gentleman a question, don’t be rude.”
“No, sir, I don’t want to be rude, I just wanted you to have a chance to answer the question I asked you,” Mason said.
“I’ve answered everything. It’s a whole hoax, and do you know who’s playing into the hoax? People like you and the fake news media that we have in this country,” Trump said, pointing to Mason.
“And I say in many places, the corrupt media because you’re corrupt. Much of the media in this country is not just fake, it’s corrupt, and you have some very fine people too — great journalists, great reporters, but to a large extent it’s corrupt and it’s fake. Ask the president of Finland a question, please.”
Mason eventually gave up and posed a question to Niinistö about his view of U.S. democracy, and another on foreign trade.
Trump interrupted with a boast about the American economy and “a big win for the United States” before the Finnish president could answer.
“I think the question is for me,” Niinistö said mildly.
When Trump told Niinistö to “pick somebody who’s really nice” from Finland to ask a question, a Finnish reporter asked, “Because this is the biggest issue here at the moment, I have to ask, what kind of favors has Mr. Trump asked from you?”
The question drew gasps and laughter from the room.
“I think you mean the other way around,” Trump said.
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