Donald Trump has shut down a press conference after being challenged about his claims that he passed a bill to support veterans get easier access to healthcare.
The US president abruptly walked out of the briefing yesterday after being questioned by a reporter about why he was claiming credit for signing the Veteran’s Choice bill that was actually passed by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2014.
Trump has repeated the claim that he signed the law 150 times during his presidency but has very rarely been challenged on it, according to CNN.
After repeating the claim yesterday, he said: ‘They’ve been trying to get that passed for decades and decades and decades and no president’s ever been able to do it, and we got it done.’
The programme pays for the private medical costs for eligible veterans, if they are facing delays in getting access to regular healthcare.
Trump was taking questions from the press at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey when CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid challenged him.
In the fraught exchanges, she asked: ‘Why do you keep saying that you passed Veterans Choice?’
As Trump tried to call on another reporter instead, Reid called out: ’You said that you passed Veterans Choice. It was passed in 2014…it was a false statement, sir.’
Trump paused, then responded: ‘OK. Thank you very much, everybody’ before walking away from the podium as the Village People’s hit YMCA played over the soundsystem.
The president did sign an act in 2018 which modified and expanded the eligibility for the choice programme.
He also signed the 2017 Veterans Affairs Accountability Act, which promised to get rid of unethical managers and help veterans get their health care faster.
However, Trump has repeatedly claimed that he created the entire Veteran’s Choice programme. This was actually a bipartisan initiative led by two senators who became two of Trump’s strongest critics; Bernie Sanders and the late John McCain.
Saturday’s news conference was called after Trump announced executive actions on coronavirus relief.
He outlined plans to provide economic aid to millions of Americans hit by the pandemic, saying he was forced to do so after talks at Congress broke down.
This includes measures to support the unemployed, suspend payroll tax and extend student loans.
Some of these are likely to be challenged legally because Congress controls federal spending, not the president.
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