'I don't know too much about it': Trump denies he insisted his name be put on stimulus cheques, causing delays

By Andrew Naughtie
Donald Trump and Mike Pence arrive for a White House briefing during the coronavirus pandemic ( EPA )

As the US government prepares to send out relief money to Americans as part of its coronavirus stimulus package, Donald Trump is excited to see the millions of cheques going out to citizens with his name emblazoned upon them.

But asked at his daily coronavirus press briefing why he had his name added, he dismissed the idea that he had anything to do with it.

“Well I don’t know too much about it, but I understand my name is there. I don’t know where they’re going, how they’re going, I do understand it’s not delaying anything, and I’m satisfied with that. I don’t imagine it’s a big deal, I’m sure people will be very happy to get a big fat beautiful check and my name is on it,” he said.

While the US Treasury has said the cheques will be going out on time this week, a Democratic congressman tweeted that the matter of the president’s signature has already raised the ire of people in his district.

“Am already hearing from constituents who are just furious that he delayed their checks for this,” wrote Virginia’s Don Beyer. “I’m pretty sure they are not the only ones.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, told CNN she viewed the inclusion of the president’s name as “shameful”. In a statement, she said that “Delaying direct payments to vulnerable families just to print his name on the cheque is another shameful example of President Trump’s catastrophic failure to treat this crisis with the urgency it demands.”

Mr Trump’s desire to put his name on the cheques was first reported in late March, immediately after Congress passed the $2.2 trillion economic rescue package that provided for payments of $1,200 to most Americans.

According to a report from The Washington Post, even though Mr Trump publicly denied wanting his signature featured at the start of April, he nonetheless discussed the possibility with treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and settled for having his name featured in the cheques’ memo line. The decision to include it was reportedly only finalised early this week.