President Donald Trump abruptly ended a Saturday news conference after a reporter challenged him on a lie about veterans health care he has told more than 150 times.
Trump, speaking at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, had claimed again that he is the one who got the Veterans Choice program passed – adding, “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.”
In fact, former President Barack Obama signed the Choice program into law in 2014. The law, which allowed eligible veterans to be covered by the government for care provided by doctors outside the VA system, was a bipartisan initiative spearheaded by two senators Trump has repeatedly criticized, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the late John McCain of Arizona.
What Trump signed was a 2018 law, the VA MISSION Act, that modified and expanded the eligibility criteria from the Choice program. Rather than tout that bill, Trump has claimed over and over that he created Veterans Choice itself – after others had failed for “50 years.”
“Why do you keep saying that you passed Veterans Choice?” CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid asked Trump at the Saturday news conference, during which Trump announced executive actions on coronavirus relief.
As Trump tried to call on another reporter instead, Reid continued, “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.” He then walked away as the song “YMCA” played.
Trump had either never or almost never been challenged on the Veterans Choice claim before Reid did so.