Jon Karl, ABC News’ chief White House correspondent, stood up in the front row as Pence left and said, “What is going on?” Another person was heard shouting, “You are all undermining the democratic election.”
“Mr. @VP — it’s not a press briefing if you do not take questions. Why the refusal to answer a single question?” Karl later tweeted.
Hunter Walker, White House correspondent for Yahoo News, wrote on Twitter that he “stood up and asked as loudly as I could why the are refusing to work with Biden when lives are at stake. I asked why they’re undermining our democracy. I pointed out every person on stage was complicit. I am sorry I couldn’t get you all answers.”
Pence leaves, taking no questions. You can hear reporters screaming:
• "You're all undermining the democratic election!"
• "What is going on?!"
• "Why is the federal government not taking questions?" pic.twitter.com/GfAgM6eoSu
— The Recount (@therecount) November 19, 2020
There are many questions, not just on the coronavirus surge across the country, but of Pence’s role as President Donald Trump and his legal team challenge the results of the election, including efforts to invalidate legally cast ballots in Democratic-leaning American cities.
The task force briefing instead focused on the development of a vaccine — at the same time that COVID-19 cases are surging across the country. As the briefing went on, California Gov.r Gavin Newsom announced a new curfew order to try to slow the spread.
“We need to actually double down on the public health measures as we’re waiting for that help to come, which will be soon,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been a target of Trump’s as he has delivered more a sobering picture of the virus’ spread than the president’s rosier scenario.
Fauci said that the public health measures did not mean new lockdowns but “intensifying” the simple efforts like mask wearing, social distancing and avoiding large settings. “If we do that, we will be able to hold things off until the vaccine comes,” he said.
Pence said that “as state and local governments are continuing to act with mitigation measures to slow the spread, you can assure them as we did governors again this week that we will support decision making at the local level.” But he went on to say that Trump “wanted to make it clear” that he did not support another national lockdown “and we do not support closing schools.”
But members of Trump’s team and the president himself have flouted or even mocked the wearing of masks, giving a mixed message to the public about what measures are effective in slowing the spread of the virus. And as much as the task force touted their progress, they never explained whether they could have done something differently to “flatten the curve,” the original goal. As it is now, cases are spiking upward.
Trump has been tweeting, but he last delivered public remarks on Nov. 5, two days after the election. His administration has refused to begin the transition process or even cooperate with Biden’s team on the coronavirus and the distribution of a vaccine.
“It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks,” Biden told reporters on Thursday. “Far from me to question his motives, it’s just outrageous what he’s doing.”