White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows walked away during a press conference on Monday after reporters asked him to wear a mask while speaking.
According to a report from NBC News, Meadows, who purportedly spent a great deal of time around President Donald Trump while he was sick with the novel coronavirus, was speaking to reporters in the Senate hallway during a break in the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
As he began speaking, he pulled a microphone toward him while stepping back away from the assembled media. At that point, he pulled away his mask from his face and got ready to address questions from the press.
Kristin Wilson, a CNN reporter, objected to his removing his face covering.
“Well, I’m more than 10 feet away,” he said as he began to walk away. “I’m not going to talk through a mask.”
He told the reporters as he walked away that he’d be glad to answer their questions before exiting.
Meadows has been working side-by-side with Trump, who was recently declared free of the coronavirus, though critics have expressed suspicions about whether he is truly no longer contagious.
While Meadows has said that he tested negative for COVID-19 last Monday, it is still possible that he could be a carrier and could infect those around him.
Dozens of staffers have contracted the virus after working near Trump or attending events at the White House, including White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Trump campaign adviser Bill Stepien, senior adviser Stephen Miller, first lady Melania Trump, senior adviser Hope Hicks, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, former senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Video of the event was posted to Twitter, and the reactions to Meadows’ move were mixed.
Video of Capitol Hill reporters insisting WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wear a mask while talking with them and Meadows deciding he won’t talk to reporters if he has to wear a mask. pic.twitter.com/kDX10BLDnk
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) October 12, 2020
“Someone has to show some courage and common sense if we are to get through this crap and that damned sure isn’t going to come from the media,” one person tweeted.
“This is why the media is despised. Never going to ever get back to normality with these people. He was 10 feet away for gods sake. The thought of these people in charge terrifies me,” added another Twitter user added.
“The politicization of mask wearing might be not only the most juvenile development in our nation’s history but also the most destructive considering the death toll,” concluded another on Twitter.