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As Pence Takes Vaccine on Live TV, Trump Tweets About “Russia Hoax”

At almost the exact moment Friday morning when Vice President Mike Pence, his wife, Karen, and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Powell were receiving the coronavirus vaccine on live television as a sign of encouragement to the American public, Donald Trump remained silent and out of sight, tweeting “The Russia hoax becomes an even bigger lie.”

The White House press operation had urged all of the TV networks to broadcast the event, which took place next door to the White House in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Trump himself did nothing to support the effort.

The president has refused to use the White House “bully pulpit” or his Twitter account either to comfort Americans at a time when people are dying at the rate of two per minute or to change the minds of those who might be hesitant to get the vaccine. Nor has he given any indication that he intends take a shot himself.¬†After receiving the injection, Pence said he “didn’t feel a thing” and delivered remarks encouraging the public to readily line up and take the vaccine.

In the moments leading up the event, CNN anchor John Berman and New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman discussed why Pence, rather than Trump, was put front and center by the administration for such a high profile public demonstration.

“In a normal world you would not have this much attention being paid to the act of a vice president getting a vaccine,” Haberman said. “It is a big deal that the president isn’t doing so. He does have an obligation. It’s just one he isn’t meeting.”

Berman wondered why Trump wants to take credit for the development of the vaccine but is unwilling to take part in the public education effort to convince people that it’s safe and effective.

“I have a theory, John, and again it’s only a theory,” Haberman replied. “I think that he doesn’t want to be jabbed with a needle on live television. I just don’t. I think that he considers that to be an act of some kind of weakness. He is choosing not to do something that could save lives.”



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