On Wednesday, Donald Trump took the podium for the second White House press briefing in as many days, a noteworthy quick burst of appearances after almost three months without one.
The briefing, which featured only Donald Trump, with no public health officials around him, was meant to address ongoing concerns about the virus's impact across the United States. The President maintained that focus for as long as he read from clearly prepared remarks.
But Trump moved into non-virus territory when the press began asking questions following those remarks.
CNN's Kaitlin Collins, for example, threw the president on his heels when she asked about a recent crime uptick in Chicago.
Collins framed her question by comparing Trump to Obama, a dynamic that commonly ignites the anger of Trump:
"In 2016, you said it was President Obama's fault when homicides were up in Chicago. So why was it the president's fault then, but it's not your fault now?"
Trump said nothing about Obama in his answer.
Instead, he painted a stark picture of Chicago and assured how much power the federal government has.
"Chicago is a disaster. The mayor is saying, don't come in, the mayor is telling us not to come in. At some point we can void that if we have to, and we may have to because it's out of control."
"She's a Democrat, she's making a big mistake. People are dying in Chicago and other cities and we can solve the problem. They have to ask us but we can solve the problem."
And when Collins repeated the question, Trump remained flustered about the Obama element.
"Because President Obama was invited in, and he did a poor job … he could have solved the problem."
Towards the end of his response, Trump compared Chicago to Portland, a city where the federal government did step in when Trump deployed Department of Homeland Security officers to the city.
"We're equipped with the best equipment, the best people. And you see what were doing, Portland was coming down, it was busting at the seams...and we had to do that."
Despite Trump's claim to have "solved the problem," Trump has been criticized for his decision to send DHS officers send DHS officers into Portland, Seattle, and D.C., where largely nonviolent protests have continued. The deployment of those officers led to frequent incidents of escalation in those cities.
Many Twitter users criticized Trump's response by drawing upon the ugly truth about DHS involvement in local law and order.
@atrupar @kaitlancollins Ummm, most people aren't thinking they came into Portland and made a positive impact— progressive mom (@progressive mom)1595456400.0
@atrupar @kaitlancollins Let's be clear here folks. Trump has totally EXPLOITED the protests calling for racial jus… https://t.co/NpH7zaR6EM— Mary Alice Bishop (@Mary Alice Bishop)1595462281.0
There is an urgent necessity for Congress and the media to investigate if there are ANY security contractors deploy… https://t.co/2KN7KoXQGB— Steve Schmidt (@Steve Schmidt)1595509500.0
@atrupar @kaitlancollins So he's admitting that they were in Portland to protect federal buildings...not people?? Nice.— Henry Farfsing (@Henry Farfsing)1595468156.0
Others highlighted the moment as yet another example of Trump's impulsive, stressed response to anything involving Obama.
@atrupar @kaitlancollins It seems as if .@realDonaldTrump still hasn't gotten over his inferiority complex in regar… https://t.co/T3hyhagEYs— Scott Geiger (@Scott Geiger)1595460694.0
@atrupar @kaitlancollins He's been "president" for 3.5 years but it's still Obama's fault. https://t.co/Ml2dmnC5dm— Sonador@Dreamer (@Sonador@Dreamer)1595456227.0
@atrupar @kaitlancollins Obama left the office 3 1/2 year ago & this man still blames him for everything.— Pam (@Pam)1595469660.0
If the recent uptick in press briefings is any signal of things to come, we can expect many more noteworthy moments from President Trump behind the podium.