President Donald Trump called a surprise press conference this afternoon that coincided with former President Barack Obama’s eulogy at the funeral for John Lewis, according to White House reporters on social media.
After hearing about the unscheduled event, critics were quick to lash out at Trump, accusing him of trying to move attention away from Obama as he took the stage.
Trump did not have a press conference on his official schedule at 10 a.m. until one materialized at about 2:30 p.m. At that time, the pool of reporters was “abruptly” called together for what turned out to be a gathering for Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, who was allegedly killed by another enlisted soldier in April. Her family was also gathered for a brief event.
“The White House press pool was just abruptly called to gather. President Trump has nothing on his schedule for another 90 minutes,” wrote Kaitlan Collins, a CNN correspondent.
A short while later, Jennifer Jacobs from Bloomberg News confirmed that the meeting was about Guillen and with her family.
Trump is meeting with the family of slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, whose remains were discovered in June. Her mom says she wants help with justice for her daughter. pic.twitter.com/7Dnajcd45S
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) July 30, 2020
After entering the room for the event, pundit J.D. Durkin commented on the situation, calling it an attempt at one-upmanship on Trump’s behalf.
“Meeting with the mother of Vanessa Guillen is admirable, and should rightfully become a White House priority……but calling in the pool at the *exact* moment Obama takes the stage in Atl. suggests a pettiness that proves Trump’s obsession with one-upping his predecessor again,” he wrote.
“He’s trying – and will fail – to step on John Lewis funeral service. Trump is a whiny toddler. Has no compassion or empathy,” wrote Betsy Blaney, a producer for NPR in Texas.
During his speech at the civil rights icon’s memorial service, Obama spoke out in support of voting rights and memorialized Lewis’ battle for racial equality, as CNN reported. He also spoke of Lewis’s life-long struggle for Black rights, which made waves across the nation when he was attacked by state troopers on a bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.
Obama also pointed out that some people in power are discouraging voters from turning out to the polls, just hours after Trump tweeted a message suggesting that perhaps the upcoming 2020 presidential election should be pushed back from November 3. He also noted that his own political career wouldn’t have been possible without the sacrifices of people like Lewis.
While speaking with the family of Guillen, Trump vowed to look into the slain soldier’s death and offered to help with funeral expenses.