Trump Tested Positive for Covid Few Days before Biden Debate
By Staff, Agencies
In a stunning revelation, fourth and last chief of staff of former US President Donald Trump unveiled that the latter tested positive for Covid-19 three days before his first debate against Joe Biden.
In his book, Mark Meadows writes that though he knew each candidate was required “to test negative for the virus within seventy two hours of the start time … Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there”.
Trump, Meadows says in the book, returned a negative result from a different test shortly after the positive.
Nonetheless, the stunning revelation of an unreported positive test follows a year of speculation about whether Trump, then 74 years old, had the potentially deadly virus when he faced Biden, 77, in Cleveland on 29 September – and what danger that might have presented.
Trump announced he had Covid on 2 October. The White House said he announced that result within an hour of receiving it. He went to hospital later that day.
Meadows’ memoir, The Chief’s Chief, will be published next week by All Seasons Press, a conservative outlet. The Guardian obtained a copy on Tuesday – the day Meadows reversed course and said he would cooperate with the House committee investigating the deadly Capitol attack of 6 January.
Meadows says Trump’s positive result on 26 September was a shock to a White House which had just staged a triumphant Rose Garden ceremony for supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett – an occasion now widely considered to have been a Covid super-spreader event.
Despite the president looking “a little tired” and suspecting a “slight cold”, Meadows says he was “content” that Trump travelled that evening to a rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
But as Marine One lifted off, Meadows writes, the White House doctor called.
“Stop the president from leaving,” Meadows says Sean Conley told him. “He just tested positive for Covid.”
It wasn’t possible to stop Trump but when he called from Air Force One, his chief of staff gave him the news.
“Mr President,” Meadows said, “I’ve got some bad news. You’ve tested positive for Covid-19.”
Trump’s reply, the devout Christian writes, “rhyme[d] with ‘Oh spit, you’ve gotta be trucking lidding me’.”
Meadows writes of his surprise that such a “massive germaphobe” could have contracted Covid, given precautions including “buckets of hand sanitizer” and “hardly [seeing] anyone who ha[d]n’t been rigorously tested”.
Meadows says the positive test had been done with an old model kit. He told Trump the test would be repeated with “the Binax system, and that we were hoping the first test was a false positive”.
After “a brief but tense wait”, Meadows called back with news of the negative test. He could “almost hear the collective ‘Thank God’ that echoed through the cabin”, he writes.
Meadows says Trump took that call as “full permission to press on as if nothing had happened”. His chief of staff, however, “instructed everyone in his immediate circle to treat him as if he was positive” throughout the Pennsylvania trip.
“I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks,” Meadows writes, “but I also didn’t want to alarm the public if there was nothing to worry about – which according to the new, much more accurate test, there was not.”
Meadows writes that audience members at the rally “would never have known that anything was amiss”.
The White House had still not told the public Trump tested positive and then negative two days before.
On debate day, 29 September, Meadows says, Trump looked slightly better – “emphasis on the word slightly”.
Trump gave a furious and controversial performance, continually hectoring Biden to the point the Democrat pleaded: “Will you shut up, man? This is so un-presidential.”
The host, Chris Wallace of Fox News, later said Trump was not tested before the debate because he arrived late. Organizers, Wallace said, relied on the honor system.
The White House had not said Trump had tested positive and negative three days before.
Three days later, on 2 October, Trump announced by tweet that he and his wife, Melania Trump, were positive.
That evening, Meadows helped Trump make his way to hospital. During his stay, Meadows helped orchestrate stunts meant to show the president was in good health. Trump recovered, but it has been reported that his case of Covid was much more serious than the White House ever let on.