Trump Kicks His Chief of Staff out of the Oval Office for Coughing in His Presence

“You just can’t. You just can’t cough.”

Shawn Thew/ZUMA

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For all the anonymous, bruising leaks that have detailed palace intrigue inside the Trump White House, only a few moments have emerged on tape allowing the public to glimpse the administration’s chaos for themselves—and see that none of this is normal. 

Luckily, the latest installment of ABC’s headline-making interview with the president provides such a rare opportunity.

The moment came while Trump discussed the longstanding fight to release more information about his personal finances with George Stephanopoulos. He claimed he hoped a so-called “financial statement” will one day be publicly available because it is “fantastic.” Seconds later, he abruptly stops.

“Let’s do that over. He’s coughing in the middle of my answer,” the president said referring to his own chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

The ever-media minded president, who is a noted germaphobe and a former reality television star, continued: “I don’t like that, you know. I don’t like that.”

“If you’re going to cough, please leave the room. You just can’t. You just can’t cough,” Trump added, as microphones captured Mulvaney’s exit. “Boy, oh boy! Okay, do you want to do that a little differently then?” Trump asked the television crew.

The scolding is only the latest instance in the president’s long record of humiliating and undermining aides. Many of them have quickly found themselves discarded from his inner circle.

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DONALD TRUMP & DEMOCRACY

Mother Jones was founded to do things differently in the aftermath of a political crisis: Watergate. We stand for justice and democracy. We reject false equivalence. We go after, and go deep on, stories others don’t. And we’re a nonprofit newsroom because we knew corporations and billionaires would never fund the journalism we do. Our reporting makes a difference in policies and people’s lives changed.

And we need your support like never before to vigorously fight back against the existential threats American democracy and journalism face. We’re running behind our online fundraising targets and urgently need all hands on deck right now. We can’t afford to come up short—we have no cushion; we leave it all on the field.

Please help with a donation today if you can—even just a few bucks helps. Not ready to donate but interested in our work? Sign up for our Daily newsletter to stay well-informed—and see what makes our people-powered, not profit-driven, journalism special.

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