White House defends Trump over Atlanta mayor's mask accusations

The White House on Thursday defended President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE after Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance BottomsKeisha Lance BottomsMcAuliffe, Youngkin in dead heat: poll McAuliffe brings in big guns as Democratic worries grow over Virginia Everytown recruiting gun violence survivors to run for office MORE (D) accused him of breaking the law by failing to wear a mask during a visit to the city's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

White House spokesman Judd DeereJudd DeereHere's how presidents move into the White House in just hours on Inauguration Day Pence's relationship with Trump fractures in final days Trump stares down new impeachment threat MORE told The Hill that Trump was following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when he attended an event without a mask at the Atlanta airport. Trump's visit to the city was capped by his announcement that his administration would roll back of one of the nation's bedrock environmental laws.

"The President takes the health and safety of everyone traveling in support of himself and all White House operations very seriously," Deere said in a statement to The Hill.
 
"When preparing for and carrying out any travel, White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office, to ensure plans incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible."
   
Footage from Trump's visit to the Atlanta airport showed the president eschewing a face covering as officials around him wore them. Trump never left the airport during his visit.
 
Speaking on CNN's "The Situation Room," Bottoms said that Trump's move amounted to a violation of her executive order requiring people to wear masks amid the coronavirus outbreak. 
 
"I signed an executive order that requires masks in the city of Atlanta and specifically on city-owned property, which Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is. So by not having on the mask, President Trump did violate the law in the city of Atlanta," she said. 
 
"I am somehow not surprised that he disregarded our rules and regulations in this city," Bottoms, who announced earlier this month that she contracted COVID-19, added. "But it was encouraging to see others did have some regard for what we’re doing and trying to accomplish in Atlanta, and that’s to slow the spread of COVID-19."
 
A recent surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S. has coincided with an aggressive push from federal, state and local leaders for the public to wear masks in public. At least 22 states and Washington, D.C., have instituted measures mandating face coverings.
 
However, Trump has been reluctant to wear them in public. He wore a face covering in view of cameras for the first time last Saturday during a visit to Walter Reed hospital.
 
Bottoms signed an executive order on July 8 requiring city residents to wear masks in public. But the decision engendered a dispute between her and Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempAbrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Arbery murder trial set to begin this week Stacey Abrams to campaign for McAuliffe in Virginia MORE (R), who on Wednesday night issued an order prohibiting local municipalities across the state from mandating that masks be worn in public. 
 
The move effectively voided orders issued by at least 15 local governments across the state, according to The Associated Press. Instead of a mandate, Kemp's executive order says residents and visitors of the state are “strongly encouraged to wear face coverings as practicable” when in public settings. 
 
Updated at 9:03 a.m.