President Donald Trump claimed World War II veterans are “too pure” to catch the novel coronavirus in freewheeling remarks during a meeting with Republican lawmakers. The president made the remarks just one day after his personal valet tested positive for the virus.
The president said he didn’t wear a face mask during a ceremony honoring veterans for their service, but insisted he was “very far away from them” and “they’re so pure, it will never happen.”
“I would have loved to have gone up and hugged them because they are great. I had a conversation with everyone, but we were very far away. You saw,” Trump said. “Plus the wind was blowing so hard in such a direction that if the plague ever reached them, I’d be very surprised.”
The president also disparaged reporters, claiming they’re more concerned about the well-being of veterans than they are for him.
“That’s OK because I think they’re so pure, it will never happen. Alright? They’ve lived a great life. But no, the wind was howling. And I didn’t see anybody with masks, I don’t know, maybe there were. But they were great.”
You can watch footage of Trump’s remarks below.
Reporter: "Mr. President, you were with 7 American heroes earlier today, these World War II veterans, all in their nineties. Did you consider wearing a mask when you were with them?"
President Trump: "No because I was very far away." pic.twitter.com/puNmk4AHra
— The Hill (@thehill) May 8, 2020
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie were also with Trump during the ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe. Neither official wore a mask during the event, behavior for which they received criticism from Vietnam Veterans of America, a veterans advocacy group.
“We need the president and his closest aides to immediately start modeling CDC guidelines and behavior that keeps veterans and elderly Americans safe, because what they’re doing right now is going to get people killed,” said Kristofer Goldsmith, the group’s associate director of policy and government affairs.