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Ford officials were reportedly 'surprised' when Trump took his mask off during a tour of their Michigan factory

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President Donald Trump with Ford's executive chairman, Bill Ford, at the Ford Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on Thursday.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
  • The CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang tweeted that sources told her President Donald Trump was asked to wear a mask while touring a Ford manufacturing plant in Michigan on Thursday and officials were "surprised" when he took it off.
  • Jiang added that sources told her Ford officials "just went with it" after Trump took the mask off and said it was Trump's "decision" to do so.
  • During a Q&A session following his tour on Thursday, Trump acknowledged wearing a mask during a portion of the visit but said he "didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it."
  • Trump has not been seen wearing a mask in public, despite federal health guidelines suggesting that people wear face coverings "in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump's decision to take his mask off while touring a Ford manufacturing plant in Michigan on Thursday reportedly came as a surprise to Ford officials who asked him to wear one.

The CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang tweeted that sources told her Ford's executive chairman, Bill Ford, asked Trump to wear a mask, and officials were "surprised" when he took it off.

"Sources tell me Bill Ford asked the President to wear a mask when he got there, and he agreed," Jiang tweeted. "The expectation was that he would keep it on for the entire visit, and officials were surprised when he took it off. Trump said he was given a 'choice,' but no one from Ford said that."

Jiang added that sources told her Ford officials "just went with it" after Trump took the mask off and said it was Trump's "decision" to do so.

Before Trump's visit, a Ford spokeswoman told Reuters that the company had a policy requiring masks to be worn at its Michigan plant and said it had informed the White House of the policy. Still, she added that the White House had "its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel encouraged Trump to wear a mask during his visit, and said in an open letter addressed to Trump on Wednesday that it was "not only a legal responsibility" for the president to prevent the spread of COVID-19, "but also a social and moral responsibility."

During a Q&A session following his tour on Thursday, Trump acknowledged wearing a mask during a portion of the visit but said he "didn't want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it."

Trump said he "had one on in an area where they preferred it, so I put it on and it was very nice, it looked very nice. But they said it's not necessary."

In a statement following Trump's visit, Ford said: "Bill Ford encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived. He wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford GTs from over the years. The president later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit."

Trump has never worn a mask in public, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines recommend that people wear face coverings "in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain."

According to an Associated Press report, Trump has told advisers that wearing a mask would "send the wrong message" and hurt his chances at reelection.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has posited that Trump might be concerned about his image.

"It's a vanity thing, I guess, with him," Pelosi said on MSNBC earlier this month.

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