President Donald Trump abruptly ended his news conference Saturday when a reporter decided to ask him about a lie he has told numerous times regarding the Veterans Choice program. Speaking at his second press conference in two days at his private club in Bedminster, New Jersey Trump once again took credit for getting the Veterans Choice program approved. “I’ve just signed two bills that are great for our vets, our vets are very special,” Trump said. “We passed choice, as you know, Veterans Choice, and Veterans Accountability. They’ve been trying to get that passed for decades and decades and decades and no president has ever been able to do it. And we got it done.”
It is a claim Trump has made numerous times before as he has taken credit for a program that allows veterans to see doctors outside the government-run VA medical facilities. But the truth is it was passed in 2014 under President Barack Obama and was the result of a bipartisan initiative led by late Sen. John McCain and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Trump did expand eligibility for the program in 2018, when he signed the MISSION Act into law. The move didn’t lead to a huge increase of veterans seeking private care in large part because wait times in the private sector are usually longer than at the VA.
On Saturday, CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid decided to ask Trump about this lie he has told more than 150 times, according to CNN. “Why do you keep saying that you passed Veterans Choice?” Reid asked. Trump appeared to try to avoid the question and move on to another reporter while the crowd of club members present at the news conference cheered on the president as if he were at a rally. “You said that you passed Veterans Choice. It was passed in 2014,” Reid continued. “it was a false statement, sir.” Trump then quickly looked to the side and ended the briefing: “Thank you very much.” CNN’s Daniel Dale later called it a “historic fact check moment” because as far as he could recall none “had ever challenged Trump on this lie he keeps telling over and over.”
For more of Slate’s news coverage, subscribe to What Next on Apple Podcasts or listen below.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.