Donald Trump Began a Press Conference by Talking About the Coronavirus. He Ended it by Sending an Accused Sex-Trafficker his Best Wishes.

The president had nice things to say about Jeffrey Epstein co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell.

Sarah Silbiger/CNP/Zuma

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In a reversal of his previous dismissive attitude toward the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump on Tuesday encouraged the widespread use of masks (despite his refusal to wear them in the past) and condemned large gatherings (despite having held a rally on June 20).

“Some areas of our country are doing very well. Others are doing less well,” he said, in his first coronavirus briefing since April. “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better—something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is.”

Dr. Deborah Birx was present at the briefing, but Dr. Anthony Fauci was not. Fauci has said that he was not invited. Trump declined to comment on Fauci’s absence.

Despite the president’s newfound appreciation for the seriousness of the virus, the speech was not without its Trumpisms. He repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as “the China virus,” and, when asked whether he thought Ghislaine Maxwell—Jeffrey Epstein’s associate currently incarcerated on child sex trafficking charges—would turn in powerful men, he responded, “I just wish her well, frankly.”

“I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach,” he continued, “but I wish her well.”

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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