‘She has a nice smile’: Trump singles out RTÉ’s Caitriona Perry

RTÉ Washington Correspondent told to ‘come here’ by Donald Trump

US president Donald Trump, while holding a telephone conversation with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, calls forward RTÉ's Washington correspondent Caitriona Perry. Video: Reuters

 

US president Donald Trump made the unusual move of inviting RTÉ’s Washington Correspondent Caitriona Perry to his desk during a phone call with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Tuesday.

Mr Trump sat at his desk in the Oval Office while talking to Mr Varadkar in Dublin. Members of the media were present for the beginning of the conversation when the pair exchanged niceties

“Hello how are you?...Congratulations on your great victory. We have so many people from Ireland in this country. I know so many of them too. I feel I know all of them. But I just want to congratulate you. That was a great victory that you had.”

Caitriona Perry told the US president she was from RTÉ
Caitriona Perry told the US president she was from RTÉ

Mr Trump continued: “We have a lot of your Irish press watching us... they are just now leaving the room.

“Where are you from , come here, come here, where are you from?” the president said gesturing to Perry to come over to his desk. “We have all of this beautiful Irish press, where are you from?” he asked the reporter again.

After telling the president who she was and which news outlet she represented, Mr Trump told Mr Varadkar: “Caitriona Perry, she has a nice smile on her face, so I bet she treats you well”, as Perry retreated back to the press corps. She later described the incident on Twitter as a “bizarre moment” .

‘He frightens me. Jesus, he frightens me’

Other Twitter users and media immediately picked up on the incident. Britain’s Telegraph newspaper Tweeted: “Did Trump just flirt with Irish reporter Caitriona Perry during a diplomatic phone call?”, while Mashable headlined its piece on the incident: “Trump creeps on reporter in the Oval Office, thoroughly grossing out the internet”.

RTÉ said Perry would not be commenting today, but a former Washington Correspondent for the broadcaster Charlie Bird described the moment as “fantastic” in terms of access for Ms Perry.

Mr Trump told Mr Varadkar Caitriona Perry “she has a nice smile on her face”
Mr Trump told Mr Varadkar Caitriona Perry “she has a nice smile on her face”

“For any journalist to get that bit of face-time in the Oval Office is just amazing. Mind you, it is Donald Trump, but that’s life,” he said in Dublin at a conference he was moderating.

“As a journalist, you find yourself in those positions. When I was there, I found myself in a position with Obama and he put his arm around me. The White House press corps don’t like things like that. The officials in the White House around whatever president it is, they don’t like that happening.”

Asked whether he thought Mr Trump’s behaviour towards his former RTÉ colleague was inappropriate or creepy, Mr Bird said: “I don’t understand Trump. I’d say somebody pointed her out to him: ‘This is a journalist from Irish television.’ It is a bit of fun. It lightens the load.”

Still, the veteran journalist had criticism for Mr Trump in the wake of the incident. “He frightens me. Jesus, he frightens me,” said Mr Bird.