President Donald Trump defended having members of his Bedminister golf club crowing into his press conference and not wearing masks as a peaceful demonstration against the news media.
Trump grew defensive when a member of the media asked him what message it sent to have a large crowd of people at his event, most of whom did not wear masks or socially distance.
‘You’re wrong on that,’ President Trump replied. ‘It’s a peaceful protest.’
President Donald Trump defended having members of his Bedminister golf club crowing into his press conference
Many of the golf club members who came to watch President Trump did not wear masks
When reporters tweeted about the lack of face masks and social distancing, club staff handed out masks for members to wear
The crowd, gathered in the back behind the news cameras, cheered him on.
The president cited an exemption in New Jersey’s rules on social gatherings that allow a greater number of people at political demonstrations or events.
‘It says exactly political activity or peaceful protest,’ Trump said, reading off a piece of paper on his podium. ‘And you can draw a political activity but I thought peaceful protest.’
Before the president’s last minute press conference on Saturday night, members of his golf club were seen walking in to the ballroom, many of whom were carrying glasses of wine. The majority of them were not wearing masks.
Casually clad in shorts and polo shirts, they lined up shoulder to shoulder at the back of the room as the president rehearsed his remarks at a podium.
He then invited them to stay to watch the press conference.
‘You’ll get to meet the fake news tonight,’ Trump was heard saying on a live microphone shortly before his press conference began, according to CNN. ‘You’ll get to see what I have to go through. Who’s there? Oh all my killers are there, wow. So you’ll get to see some of the people that we deal with every day.’
Reporters attending the press conference noted the presence of the golf club members and the lack of mask wearing.
Members of the Bedminister golf club stood in the back of the ballroom during the president’s press conference
Members and guests of President Donald Trump’s golf resort stand in the back of the room in what the president called ‘a peaceful protest’ against the press
Two small children ducked behind chairs to listen to President Trump as he spoke
After reporters tweeted about it, members of the golf club staff were seen walking around handing out face masks and asking the members to social distance, telling the members reporters were tweeting about the club violating New Jersey regulations on gathering.
Many of the crowd then did put the face masks on.
New Jersey announced new guidelines on Monday that capped gatherings at 25% of a room’s capacity to a maximum of 25 people, down from 100.
But there were exceptions: weddings, funerals, memorial services, religious and political activities protected under the First Amendment. The exemptions continued the 25% of a room’s capacity but allowed a maximum of 100 people.
No exact crowd count was available but with the number of observers, members of the press corp, the president and his staff, the number was near or over the 100 mark.