President Donald Trump was excoriated on social media after turning his attention to Twitter during a roundtable Thursday afternoon on the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic as one attendee detailed the hardships faced by her small business due to the outbreak.
"Get off your phone and pay attention!" tweeted author Jason Cranford Teague.
Get off your phone and pay attention!https://t.co/YSC7s7mMgc
— Jason Cranford Teague #BLM (@JasonCT) June 19, 2020
The president began scrolling through his phone as a business owner described how the pandemic has affected her company's operations, including the need for added runners and phone operators to handle social distancing requirements.
Trump's focus instead was apparently on composing a tweeted threat to China referring to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer's comments Wednesday to the House that it was unlikely the Chinese and U.S. economies could "decouple."
Trump demonstrates the depth of his empathy with two small business owners he invited to the White House by getting bored by their personal stories and taking out his phone to spend more than 3 minutes writing and sending a tweet about his China trade rep https://t.co/72c4gjtUc1 https://t.co/IuNyYuEARK
— Robert Mackey (@RobertMackey) June 18, 2020
"It was not Ambassador Lighthizer's fault (yesterday in Committee) in that perhaps I didn't make myself clear, but the U.S. certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China," said the president. "Thank you!"
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An avalanche of criticism quickly followed.
Who among us hasn't led the most powerful nation on earth and sneaked a peek at Twitter while in an important meeting? https://t.co/oQRNLqx4m6
— Prashant (@CoolAssPuppy) June 19, 2020
Message: I care. https://t.co/8BtW7d4N0J
— John Heilemann (@jheil) June 18, 2020
Over 100,000 American small businesses have been run out of business since Trump disastrously mismanaged the response to COVID-19.
And this is the level of engagement and respect he gives small business owners trying to tell him about their problems during the outbreak. https://t.co/DCn03vyej0
— Andrew Bates (@AndrewBatesNC) June 19, 2020
"He's not even trying to pretend at this point," tweeted Vox journalist Aaron Rupar.