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Pete Buttigieg has bizarre question for reporter who directly confronts him about East Palestine disaster

Image source: Twitter @JennieSTaer screenshot

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg showed his displeasure on Tuesday with a reporter who directly confronted him about the East Palestine train derailment.

"What do you have to say to the folks in Ohio— East Palestine, who are suffering right now?" asked Dally Caller News Foundation reporter Jennie Taer.

Buttigieg dodged the question and tried to dismiss the reporter, but Taer was undeterred.

"Well, I'd refer you to about a dozen interviews I've given today, and if you'd like to arrange a conversation you should reach out to our press office," he said. "I'm not gonna have that conversation with you just walking down the street."

"You don't have a message for them?" Taer followed up.

Buttigieg claimed he does have a message, but told Taer she would need to speak with the Department of Transportation's press shop for that message. When she asked Buttigieg if he would share it directly, he declined.

"Right now, I'm taking some personal time, and I'm walking down the street," he responded.

What happened next was extremely odd. Taer asked Buttigieg if he planned to visit East Palestine. He said that he did and then he pulled out his cellphone and asked Taer if he could take a photo of — not with — her. Taer agreed to the photo.

Buttigieg became the target of bipartisan criticism over what many believed was a slow public response to the train derailment, which happened nearly three weeks ago and resulted in a burn of highly toxic, cancer-causing chemicals.

The secretary admitted on Tuesday that he "could have spoken sooner" and offered an excuse for why he did not.

"I was focused on just making sure that our folks on the ground were all set, but could have spoken sooner about how strongly I felt about this incident, and that's a lesson learned for me," he said on CBS News.

Buttigieg will travel to East Palestine on Thursday, one day after former President Donald Trump.

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