- President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 late Thursday and was admitted into the hospital later the next morning; however, on Saturday, his doctors seemed to indicate that they had known Trump was positive for the virus since Wednesday.
- If true, Trump held two events while knowingly positive.
- His doctors walked back that statement on Saturday, saying they misspoke. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has also said that Trump first tested positive following a fundraiser on Thursday.
- Despite this, it has been confirmed that Trump knowingly attended that event after finding out that his senior counselor, Hope Hicks — who he had been exposed to — had tested positive.
Thursday: Trump Diagnosed
President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 late Thursday night. By Monday, he announced that he was set to be discharged from the hospital he had checked into on Friday.
Just after midnight Eastern time on Friday, the president announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive. That announcement came just several hours after confirmation that Trump’s senior counselor, Hope Hicks, had tested positive.
Later into the morning, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters that Trump had “mild symptoms.” Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump had announced his coronavirus test result within an hour of receiving it.
That afternoon, the White House announced that Trump had since received a dose of Regeneron, an experimental drug cocktail that’s shown promising results in improving COVID-19 symptoms.
“I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support,” Trump said Friday evening. “I’m going to Walter Reed Hospital. I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well, so thank you very much. I appreciate it. I will never forget it. Thank you.”
Saturday: When Did Trump First Learn He Had COVID?
Trump’s doctors held a press conference Saturday morning where they said Trump had experienced a fever Thursday into Friday morning; however, by this point, they said Trump had been fever-free for 24 hours.
“Just 72 hours into the diagnosis now, the first week of Covid, and in particular days 7 to 10, are the most critical in determining the course of this illness,” White House physician Sean P. Conley said outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “At this time, the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made. Thursday, he had a mild cough with some nasal congestion, fatigue, all of which are now resolving and improving.”
Additionally, Dr. Brian Garibaldi said Trump received “a special antibody therapy” (AKA, Regeneron) 48 hours before the press conference.
Both of those statements are critically important because, if true, that would shift the timeline from when Trump said he was diagnosed.
Conley said, on Saturday, Trump was “72 hours into the diagnosis,” which would mean that Trump actually tested positive on Wednesday morning. The same is true with Garibaldi’s statement. If Trump received Regeneron 48 hours before this press conference, that would put it somewhere around midday Thursday.
In fact, this timeline would be rather damning for Trump. That’s because on Wednesday night, he held an outdoor rally in Minnesota. On Thursday, he then flew to New Jersey for a fundraiser — which included both indoor and outdoor events.
Notably, on Friday, Meadows himself said that Trump and his team knew Hicks had tested positive and that he had been exposed to her before the event. Despite this, Trump still decided to go to the fundraiser, even though others she had contact with were pulled from the trip.
Thus, many reporters were quick to ask Conley about this discrepancy, and at Saturday’s press conference, they asked him to clarify when Trump first got a positive diagnosis.
Conley largely refused to answer the question directly and would not reveal when Trump’s last negative test was. Instead, he affirmed that he had done “repeated testing” on Trump Thursday afternoon and that late that night, the results confirmed Trump was positive.
Reporters also asked about whether Trump had been put on supplemental oxygen at any point, as had been reported while he was on his way to the hospital. At first, Conley dodged this question, saying Trump wasn’t currently on oxygen. After repeated questions, Conley finally said that Trump had not yet received any oxygen at all.
A few hours after the press conference, the White House walked back the timeline given by Trump’s doctors, saying that Trump was diagnosed on Thursday night. Conley also backed that up in a revised statement, saying he misspoke and meant “Day 3” instead of “72 hours.”
But the conflicting reports don’t stop there. That same day, reporters quoted Meadows as saying, “The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
Notably, that’s a lot different than the much more rosy picture Trump’s doctors presented.
As far as Trump himself goes, on Saturday, he tweeted that he felt well. In that same tweet, he referred to COVID-19 as a “PLAGUE.”
“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well,” Trump later said in a video tweet recorded at Walter Reed. “I feel much better now.”
“But this is something that’s happened and it’s happened to millions of people all over the world, and I’m fighting for them. Not just in the U.S. I’m fighting for them all over the world. We’re going to beat this coronavirus or whatever you want to call it, and we’re going to beat it soundly.”
However, with this video, many have also pointed out that just after the one minute mark — after saying the word “therapeutics” — a moment where Trump appears to cough seems to have been edited out.
Sunday: Conley Admits Trump Was Put on Oxygen
At a subsequent press conference on Sunday, Conley said that Trump’s conditions have continued to improve.
Despite this, he announced that Trump had been placed on dexamethasone, a drug that’s being used to reduce lung inflammation in COVID-19 patients who require supplemental oxygen. That statement again raised red flags, leading reporters to once again ask whether the president has been administered supplemental oxygen.
This time, Conley flat out admitted Trump had received oxygen on Friday for about an hour while still at the White House — even though on Saturday, he had explicitly denied that Trump had been put on oxygen.
“I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction,” Conley said to that point. “In doing so it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true. The fact of the matter is he is doing really well.”
Conley also noted that Trump’s oxygen levels had dipped below normal on Saturday but said he didn’t know if Trump had been put on oxygen for that. On Monday, Conley confirmed that Trump had been given a second round of oxygen.
Sunday: Trump’s Motorcade
Trump again provided another video update on Sunday, where this time, he said: “I also think we’re going to pay a little surprise to some of the great patriots we have out on the street, and they’ve been out there for a long time, and they’ve got Trump flags, and they love our country, so I’m not telling anybody but you, but I’m about to make a little surprise visit.”
Shortly after that, Trump waved to supporters on the street while in a motorcade.
“God bless our president,” one supporter can be heard shouting as Trump’s vehicle drives away. “I will die for him. I will die for that man happily. I will die for him. Anybody wanna mess with him, you mess with me first. He is a hero, that man.
While this motorcade was mostly likely about optics — especially since the elections are now less than a month away — it also involved a fair amount of risk since Trump needed a driver.
White House spokesperson Judd Deere has said that Trump’s trip “was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.” He also added that precautions like personal protective equipment were taken to protect Trump, White House officials, and secret service agents.
Still, that hasn’t quelled criticism. In fact, James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, condemned the move.
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” he said on Twitter. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”
Other medical experts have now also offered similar criticisms.
According to the CDC’s own guidelines, transport of COVID-19 patients is supposed to be limited only “to medically essential purposes.”
Sunday: Trump Did Not Disclose First Positive
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Trump had first received a positive result early Thursday evening; however, after receiving this first test result, he said on Fox News that he was still awaiting his results.
He only later disclosed his diagnosis after a second, more accurate test result came back positive, which was announced in his original tweet early Friday morning.
Reportedly, Trump at one point even told an advisor not to disclose their own positive test result.
Following this news, reporters pressed McEnany to confirm on Sunday whether Trump had been tested before last Tuesday’s debate or before the New Jersey fundraiser on Thursday. To those questions, McEany would not say, though she did say that Trump’s first positive test came after that fundraiser.
Others Test Positive
On Monday, McEnany herself announced that she had tested positive for the virus. Shortly after that, it was confirmed that two of her aides have also tested positive.
That news follows a slew of other high-profile Republicans (and others) who had been around the president in the last week testing positive. This includes:
- RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel
- Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R)
- Former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-Ut.)
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC.)
- Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien
- Assistant to the President Nicholas Luna
- Three unnamed journalists
See what others are saying: (CNN) (USA Today) (Associated Press)
House Votes To Censure Rep. Gosar, Remove Him From Committees Over AOC Video
Gosar remained defiant in remarks delivered on the floor where he defended the video and refused to apologize.
Republicans Stay Defiant Amid Censure Debate
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Az.) and remove him from his committees after he tweeted an anime video last week that showed him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)
The video, which has since been removed by Gosar, was a parody of the popular anime show “Attack on Titan.”
At one point in the clip, Gosar, along with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Co.), are seen battling and then killing a titan version of Ocasio-Cortez.
That post garnered widespread backlash, but Gosar continued to defend it and refused to apologize.
During the heated debate leading up to Wednesday’s vote, the lawmaker again expressed no regret and remained defiant.
“I rise today to address and reject the mischaracterization and accusations from many in this body that the cartoon from my office is dangerous or threatening. It was not,” he said. “I reject the false narrative categorically.”
“I do not espouse violence toward anyone. I never have. It was not my purpose to make anyone upset,” he continued. He then went on to insist the video was just a rebuke of President Joe Biden’s immigration policy and compared himself to Alexander Hamilton.
Many Republican leaders — who have largely refused to condemn the video — also defended Gosar and dismissed the post as a joke.
While some said they do not condone violence, few members of the party criticized the lawmaker. Rather, most focused their attacks on Democrats, arguing that they were abusing their power and silencing conservatives.
Democrats and Ocasio-Cortez Condemn Incitement of Violence
Democrats slammed Republicans’ continued refusal to reprimand Gosar. They said there must be consequences and that they were forced to act because his party would not.
Many also argued that they must speak out against actions that could incite the kind of violence that unfolded during the Jan. 6 insurrection. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), for instance, described the situation as “an emergency” that amounted to “violence against women” and “workplace harassment.”
“When a member uses his or her national platform to encourage violence, tragically, people listen,” she said, adding that “depictions of violence can foment actual violence, as witnessed by this chamber on Jan. 6, 2021.”
The Speaker additionally noted that there are legal implications for Gosar’s video because it amounted to a threat against a member of Congress, which is a criminal offense.
Ocasio-Cortez echoed the sentiments expressed by Pelosi during her speech on the floor.
“What I believe is unprecedented is for a member of House leadership of either party to be unable to condemn incitement of violence against a member of this body,” she said. “It is sad. It is a sad day in which a member who leads a political party in the United States of America cannot bring themselves to say that issuing a depiction of murdering a member of Congress is wrong.”
“What is so hard about saying this is wrong?” she continued. “It’s pretty cut and dry. Does anyone in this chamber find this behavior acceptable?”
“Our work here matters. Our example matters. There is meaning in our service. And as leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country.”
Ultimately, the vast majority of House Republicans voted against the resolution to censure Gosar. Only Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Il.) supported the measure, which passed 223 to 207.
While removing Gosar from his committees effectively takes away a major platform for him to effect legislation, the censure is basically just a public condemnation. Still, the move is significant because it represents the first time in more than a decade that a member of the House has been censured and only the 24th instance in American history.
Gosar, for his part, appeared to be unmoved by the decision. Just an hour after the vote, the lawmaker retweeted a post praising him that also included the same video of him killing Ocasio-Cortez.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (NPR)
Former Trump Aide Steve Bannon Surrenders to FBI After Contempt of Congress Charges
The charges stem from Bannon’s failure to comply with a subpoena from the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Bannon Faces Contempt Charges
Former White House advisor Steve Bannon surrendered to the FBI Monday morning on two contempt of Congress charges.
Bannon, who previously served as an aide to former President Donald Trump, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday after he defied a subpoena to testify and provide documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball…We’re taking down the Biden regime every day,” he said when briefly addressing the media as he turned himself in to the FBI’s Washington, D.C. field office.
Bannon made his first court appearance Monday afternoon, though he did not make a plea and was released from custody. His arraignment is set for Thursday morning.
If convicted, each count of contempt carries a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Contempt of Congress charges are incredibly rare. According to The Washington Post, only three such charges have been brought in the last three decades.
Ongoing Legal Battle
While the proceedings against Bannon will likely be quick, they are only one part of what is shaping up to be a lengthy battle over executive privilege.
Trump has repeatedly attempted to block the Jan. 6 committee from obtaining requested documents, testimonies, and other materials under the argument that they are protected by executive privilege — which he asserts still applies to him and his former aides.
In addition to provoking a fraught legal back-and-forth over key records, the former president’s efforts have additionally prompted multiple previous top officials to refuse to comply with subpoenas.
Some top Democrats have said that Bannon’s indictment will encourage other witnesses to cooperate, but at the same time, it has reinvigorated Trump’s allies in Congress.
While some have threatened payback if Republicans take the House in 2022, others have also weaponized support of Bannon as the latest show of loyalty for Trump, effectively centering the matter as a key issue for the midterm elections.
On Saturday, Trump himself released a statement condemning all Republicans who either voted for the infrastructure bill or the contempt charges against Bannon, listing each by name and promising to back anyone who primaried them in the upcoming elections.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NPR)
Judge Blocks Trump’s Effort To Keep Records From Jan. 6 Committee
The former president’s lawyers quickly appealed the decision, and experts have said the legal battle over the records could extend into next year.
Trump’s Attempt To Withhold Documents Rejected
A federal judge issued a ruling Tuesday rejecting former President Donald Trump’s effort to block records from being handed over to the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Trump has launched numerous attempts to prevent the committee from obtaining key documents, testimonies, and other evidence lawmakers have requested, claiming the materials are protected by executive privilege.
Last month, he went as far as to file a lawsuit against the panel and the National Archives to prevent the committee from seeing those documents.
In his suit, Trump claimed that executive privilege still applied to him even though he is no longer president, and despite the fact that President Joe Biden also declined to exercise executive privilege over the records.
The former president argued that the requested information has “no reasonable connection to the events of that day” or “any conceivable legislative purpose.”
In her Tuesday ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan broadly rejected those arguments, writing that “the public interest lies in permitting […] the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that led to and occurred on January 6, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again.”
Chutkan additionally argued that Congress’ ability to obtain information as part of its constitutional oversight authority outweighs Trump’s remaining secrecy powers, especially because Biden agreed that investigators should see the records.
“[Trump] does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent president’s judgment. His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power ‘exists in perpetuity,'” she added. “But presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president.”
Ongoing Legal Battle
Immediately after the ruling, Trump’s lawyers appealed and moved to block the release of the records until their appeal can be heard.
According to various reports, the appeals court set an initial written briefing deadline for Dec. 27. Legal experts, however, believe the battle will likely continue into next year and will ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court.
A drawn-out legal process will only continue to benefit Trump, whose strategy of stonewalling and stalling the investigation has so far proven effective at hindering lawmakers.
Additional delays would further aid the former president if litigation continues past the 2022 midterm elections when Republicans hope to retake the House.
In a statement on Twitter, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich indicated that the legal fight is just now starting.
“The battle to defend Executive Privilege for Presidents past, present & future—from its outset—was destined to be decided by the Appellate Courts,” he wrote. “Pres. Trump remains committed to defending the Constitution & the Office of the Presidency, & will be seeing this process through.”