President Donald Trump made a public appearance without a face mask on Monday night, hours after saying that it is "patriotic" to do so. TMZ published a video showing Trump meeting indoors with several lawmakers, some wearing masks and some not. The video also raised some questions about Trump's earlier claims that he does not need a facial-cover because everyone around him is tested so often.
The video appeared to be taken by an onlooker, who watched the president introduce Congressional hopeful Madison Cawthorn to several other officials. Neither the president nor Cawthorn wore a mask, nor did Sen. Lindsey Graham, or Rep. Mark Meadows — the Congressman whose seat Cawthorn is seeking. At one point in the clip, Graham even got up close with Cawthorn, their faces inches apart as they spoke, posing a serious risk of transmitting the coronavirus if either of them were carrying it.
Here is Trump last night not wearing a mask at his DC hotel fundraiser just hours after posting that wearing a mask is "patriotic." Also not wearing masks at the event in violation of a DC mask mandate: Madison Cawthorn, Lindsey Graham and Mark Meadows. pic.twitter.com/0UmP5VcevZ— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) July 21, 2020
This whole encounter comes just a few hours after the president tweeted another dramatic photo of himself wearing a cloth face mask with the presidential seal on one cheek. He wrote: "We are united in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can't socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!"
If the president hoped this tweet would win people over, he miscalculated, as few people praised him for cosigning masks, instead criticizing him for continuing to use the term "China Virus." The phrase has racist connotations, and has been condemned widely by public officials, including the government of China itself.
We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President! pic.twitter.com/iQOd1whktN— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2020
"If we're united then stop calling in the China Virus you racist f—," responded actor Dave Bautista.
"The President has dementia," tweeted screenwriter Judd Apatow alongside the president's mask tweet. "That is why he takes tests for dementia. He brags about doing well on dementia tests. That is a sign of dementia. Letting tens of thousands of people die and not being concerned is also a sign of an unwell man. He needs to go. Immediately."
The Center for Disease Control and other public health agencies have been recommending that all Americans wear some kind of face-covering when they need to leave the house since April 4. However, the POTUS refused to do so until this month. Most popular criticisms of face masks have been debunked, including the incorrect claim that it restricts breathing and the claim that it is a violation of Constitutional rights to require people to wear one. According to a report by Poynter, public spaces have as much right to require that Americans wear masks as they do to require shirts and shoes.