White House ‘disturbed’ by treatment of United Airlines passenger

The White House said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump has seen video of the United Airlines passenger who was forcibly deplaned this week and that anyone would be "disturbed" by his treatment.

Passengers captured video of Dr. David Dao, 69, being dragged off an overbooked flight Sunday from Chicago to Louisville. Clips show Dao screaming as an officer in plain clothes grabs him from his window seat and drags him off the plane.

“I’m sure he has” seen the video, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday. Asked about the president’s reaction, Spicer indicated that anyone would be troubled by the airline’s treatment of Dao.

“I don’t think anyone looks at that video and isn’t a little disturbed that another human being is treated that way,” Spicer said. “I think one of the things that people have to understand is that when there is a potential law enforcement matter, for the president to weigh in pro or con would prejudice a potential outcome. So I don’t want to get in — but I think clearly watching another human being dragged down an aisle, watching, you know, blood come from their face after hitting an armrest and whatever, I don’t think there’s a circumstance that you can sit back and say this probably could have been handled a little bit better when you’re talking about another human being.”

The White House spokesman initially tried to steer clear of the controversy, noting that law enforcement is reviewing the incident and United Airlines is reviewing its policies.

“Let’s not get ahead of where that review goes,” Spicer said. “It was an unfortunate incident. Clearly when you watch the video, it is troubling to see how that was handled, but I’m not gonna — they have clearly stated their desire to review the situation.”

He added that it’s not his place to get in the middle of how United Airlines handled its passenger, pointing again to the pending review.

“But I think from a human-to-human standpoint, to watch a human being get dragged down an aisle with their head banging off armrests and not think that it could have been handled better, I would assume that we could probably all agree on that,” he said.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz addressed the “upsetting event” on Monday. “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers,” he said in a statement. “Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”

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