President Donald Trump referred to the U.S. State Department as the “Deep State Department” during a White House press briefing on the worsening coronavirus pandemic with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Friday, prompting National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci to bury his face in his hands.
“Secretary of State Pompeo is extremely busy so if you have any question for him right now, could you do that?” Trump scolded members of the press during the briefing.
“Because you know what I’d like to do, I’d like for him to go back to the State Department, or as they call it, the Deep State Department. You know, Mike,” Trump added.
The remark prompted Dr. Fauci to bury his face in his hands, appearing to facepalm before catching himself.
White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell tweeted: “The president’s apparent anger on display as he used the derogatory term “Deep State Department” and Dr Fauci reacted by putting his hand over his face. Watch.”
— TheGailyGrind (@thegailygrind) March 20, 2020
Shortly after, a reporter asked Pompeo, “Was it appropriate for the president to call your department the ‘Deep State Department’ at a time when thousands of diplomats are working very hard around the world to combat this pandemic?”
“I’ve worked with the president for three years now,” answered Pompeo. “I know how much he values the people that work on my team. I know when I was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency how much he valued the work we did, I know that he watches our team… all the teams that are working to push back against this virus to keep America safe. I know how much he values them.”
President Trump responded, “What a good answer.”