President Donald Trump hasn't exactly kept his germaphobic tendencies a secret, and on Sunday he put them on display for anyone who was watching. During the taping of his interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Trump reacted to Mick Mulvaney coughing while the camera was running in a way that only a true germaphobe could.
The clip started with Trump discussing his financial statement, which he referred to as "fantastic." In the middle of his comments, though, a cough could be heard off screen.
"Let's do that over. He's coughing in the middle of my answer," Trump said to Stephanopoulos, pointing in the direction where the cough came from — that is, to his acting White House chief of staff, Mulvaney.
"Yeah. OK," Stephanopoulos responded.
"I don't like that, you know?" Trump then said, shaking his head, while Stephanopoulos somewhat incredulously commented that the person coughing was "your chief of staff."
"If you're going to cough, please leave the room," Trump continued. "You just can't, you just can't... Boy, oh boy."
Once the ABC camera crews decided on an angle, Trump relaunched into the discussion of his financial statement as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened — although you can assume that Mulvaney was no longer there to watch it.
Trump's aversion to coughing in his presence, according to Washington Post reporter Jackie Alemany, is well known among his staffers. On Twitter, Alemany shared a text from one of Trump's 2016 campaign staffers communicating as much.
“I was told by multiple people when I came aboard to never cough or sneeze while in the presence of Trump,” the text read, according to Alemany. “He thinks it’s a sign of weakness and lack of control. Nobody ever recovers.”
Former FBI Director James Comey is another person who has testified to Trump's germaphobic tendencies. In his book A Higher Loyalty, Comey discussed how Trump repeatedly addressed the lewdest claim that came out of the Steele dossier, which was that Trump had allegedly hired prostitutes and told them to urinate on themselves on top of a bed where Barack and Michelle Obama once slept, something Trump has adamantly denied.
Trump, according to Comey, didn't bring up the urine specifically the first time he defended himself against the claim, but the second time, he specifically referred to himself as a germaphobe.
“I’m a germaphobe,” Comey said that Trump told him in January of 2017. “There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.”
Even fairly early in his career as a showman, Trump made his "germ phobia" known, according to The Washington Post. "I do have germ phobia," Trump told Howard Stern in a 1993 interview, according to The Post. "It could be a psychological problem."
In his 1997 book Trump: The Art of the Comeback, however, the eventual president painted this tendency of his with a slightly different brush.
“One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get,” Trump writes in the book, per The Post. “I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.”