UPDATE, with Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci comments: Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19 three days before the first presidential debate with Joe Biden last year, Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows reveals in a new book obtained by The Guardian.
The Commission on Presidential Debates required that candidates test negative within 72 hours of the start time, but Meadows wrote that Trump was determined to not let the test stop him, according to the report.
The first presidential debate was on Sept. 29, 2020. Two days later, Trump announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive, and the president was hospitalized on Oct. 2. But the White House at the time was opaque about the full extent of Trump’s testing results.
Trump issued a statement on Wednesday in which he said, “The story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News. In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate.”
Meadows’ memoir is due to be published next week.
According to The Guardian, Meadows wrote that Trump did get a negative result from a different test after the positive result.
But the positive result did create a stir, Meadows wrote. He said that the White House doctor informed him of the president’s positive test result on Sept. 26, but Trump had just taken off on Marine One for a campaign rally. Meadows wrote that he called Trump and told him, “I’ve got some bad news. You’ve tested positive for Covid-19.”
Trump’s reply, Meadows wrote, “rhyme[d] with ‘Oh spit, you’ve gotta be trucking lidding me’.”
Trump’s test results were not publicly disclosed before the debate.
On the day of the event, Meadows wrote, according to The Guardian, “His face, for the most part at least, had regained its usual light bronze hue, and the gravel in his voice was gone. But the dark circles under his eyes had deepened. As we walked into the venue around five o’clock in the evening, I could tell that he was moving more slowly than usual. He walked like he was carrying a little extra weight on his back.”
Trump’s positive test came after a Sept. 26 White House event to introduce Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee for the Supreme Court. A number of attendees to that event ended up testing positive for Covid.
Biden was asked by a reporter on Wednesday about the report and Trump potentially putting him at risk during the debate.
“I don’t think about the former president,” Biden said.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president, was also a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force. He told reporters on Wednesday, “I certainly was not aware of his test positivity or negativity.” He said that “if you test positive you should be quarantining yourself.”
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