- 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)
GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert Accused of Leading Capitol Tour Before Insurrection
- Rep. Steve Cohen told CNN Monday that he and another lawmaker personally saw GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert guiding a “large” group of people around the Capitol days before the insurrection.
- Numerous representatives have said they saw GOP members leading an unusual amount of tours before the riots. They also said some of the visitors were involved with the rally that preceded the attack.
- Boebert preemptively denied giving tours to insurrectionists last week before any official accused her by name.
- She reiterated that denial in a statement responding to Cohen’s accusations and claimed that she had only ever given a tour to members of her family.
Rep. Cohen’s Claims
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tn.) said Monday that he and a fellow Democratic member of Congress personally witnessed Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Co.) leading a “large” group of people around the Capitol complex in the days before the violent attacks on Jan. 6.
While speaking on CNN, Cohen said that he and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) “saw Boebert taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th.”
“I don’t remember the day we were walking in a tunnel and we saw her and commented who she was and she had a large group with her,” he continued. “Now whether these people were people that were involved in the insurrection or not, I do not know.”
Notably, Cohen said he did not know who was in the group or if they were part of the attack. That fact was also echoed by Yarmuth, who confirmed in a statement that he did see Boebert with a group of people around her but added that he “has no knowledge of who they were or if they were with her.”
Over the last few weeks, dozens of Democrats have been demanding that officials investigate whether or not Republican lawmakers aided in the riots. Last Tuesday, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) told reporters she saw some of her GOP colleagues leading “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol with people who she later saw during the riots.
The following day, 31 House Democrats signed a letter claiming they and some of their staffers “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups” visiting the Capitol on Jan. 5.
“The visitors encountered by some of the Members of Congress on this letter appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day,” they wrote. “Members of the group that attacked the Capitol seemed to have an unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol Complex.”
Boebert’s Checkered Record
Until Monday, no lawmakers had named any of the members involved in the alleged tours, but many outlets and political analysts both implicitly and explicitly tied Boebert to the accusations.
In her roughly two-week-long tenure as a member of Congress, the young Republican has received significant heat for her role in the insurrection among other recent, controversial moves.
Last week, Boebert was temporarily banned from Twitter and faced numerous calls to resign for tweeting out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location during the insurrection.
She has also been widely criticized for publicly announcing she would bring her gun to the Capitol complex, refusing to have her bag searched after she set off a metal detector, and voting to invalidate millions of votes by objecting to the certification of the electoral college.
In fact, Boebert has faced so much scrutiny that she preemptively denied giving tours to insurrectionists last week, even before anyone directly named her. At the time, she issued a statement saying she has only ever given a tour to her children, husband, mother, aunt, and uncle.
Boebert reiterated those claims in a letter to Cohen Monday, where she called his remarks “categorically false.”
“I have never given a tour of the U.S. Capitol to any outside group,” she wrote. “As I previously stated, I brought my family to the Capitol on January 2nd for a tour and on the 3rd for pictures to commemorate the day I was sworn in as a Member of the U.S. Congress.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNN) (CPR News)
Washington, D.C. Ramps Up Security Before Inauguration
- Officials in Washington are ramping up security measures and imposing heavy restrictions ahead of the inauguration Wednesday.
- The National Mall has been closed down since Friday, barricades have been put up all over the city, car traffic has been limited, and many public transit routes have also been shut down.
- Around 25,000 National Guard troops have been deployed from across the country, and the FBI is vetting all of them due to concerns of an insider attack.
- Security has also been significantly increased in many state capitals nationwide following calls for armed protests in all 50 states, but so far, most of the protests at statehouses have been peaceful and exceptionally small.
Capitol Increases Security Measures
With two days to go until the inauguration, security has been massively ramped up in the nation’s Capitol.
While the inauguration is usually a high-security event, Washington has now instituted security measures not seen since the Civil War following a Jan. 6 insurrection attempt on the U.S. Capitol. Intelligence agencies have since warned about more threats of violence.
In an unprecedented move, the National Park Service announced Friday that the National Mall — which usually hosts massive crowds during the inauguration — will be closed until at least Thursday. The inaugural ceremony itself will also be scaled down due to both security threats and the pandemic.
Various barricades ranging from small metal barriers to tall fencing reinforced with heavy concrete blocks have been set up around the Mall and in other parts of the city, such as at federal buildings and businesses.
The Capitol complex itself, which will be entirely shut off to the public on Wednesday, is currently surrounded by a 7-foot fence topped with razor wire.
Over a dozen metro lines will be shut down and more than two dozen bus routes will be detoured around the security perimeter. Car traffic in most of the city will be either banned entirely or limited exclusively to residents and businesses only. Several bridges that connect DC to Virginia will also be shut down, and all street closures are subject to change or to be extended at the discretion of the Secret Service.
In addition to the wide variety of military and law enforcement personnel who are normally involved in inauguration security, around 25,000 National Guard troops have also been deployed from all across the country.
That is nearly two and a half times the number present for previous inaugurations. Notably, officials have been vetting all 25,000 coming to Washington because they are worried about an insider attack.
States Ramp Up Security
It is not just D.C. that is ramping up security. There have been mass deployments of the National Guard and other law enforcement officers to state Capitols all across the country. According to The New York Times, 19 states have deployed their National Guards following calls for armed protests in all 50 states.
So far, most of the activity that has been seen around statehouses are small, peaceful demonstrations by a few people, some of whom are armed. Even the most attended rallies had two dozen people or less.
Notably, all of the largest demonstrations documented so far have reportedly been held by or included members of the Boogaloo Boys, a far-right group that wants to start a second Civil War. The group showed up in some of the highest numbers in front of the Capitol buildings in Ohio, Michigan, and Utah.
As was the case with all of the other demonstrations so far, the protestors have been far outnumbered by security officials — and in some cases, spectators.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CBS News)
Analysts Say Online Misinformation Has Plummeted 73% Since Trump’s Twitter Ban
- Online misinformation fell 73% in the week following President Donald Trump’s ban on Twitter, according to the San Francisco-based analytics firm Zignal Labs.
- The firm also found that QAnon-related hashtags and phrases saw a decrease in use. Since the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Twitter has banned more than 70,000 accounts associated with QAnon.
- Meanwhile, Poland’s government has now introduced legislation to crack down on bans and content removal by social media platforms.
Misinformation Onlines Drops
A recent analysis from a San Francisco-based analytics firm suggests that online misinformation has plunged 73% since Twitter first banned President Donald Trump on Jan. 8.
Twitter — followed by a host of other social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat — enacted the ban following the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump insurrectionists.
According to the firm, Zignal Labs, discussions of election fraud on various sites dropped from 2.5 million mentions to just 688,000 between Jan. 9 and Jan. 15.
Zignal Labs also found that the use of common hashtags and phrases associated with QAnon conspiracy theories dropped off during the same time frame. Part of that is likely because, alongside Trump’s ban, Twitter banned more than 70,000 QAnon accounts.
“Bottom line is that de-platforming, especially at the scale that occurred last week, rapidly curbs momentum and ability to reach new audiences,” Graham Brookie, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told The Washington Post. “That said, it also has the tendency to harden the views of those already engaged in the spread of that type of false information.”
On Sunday, Twitter also temporarily suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) account. According to Twitter, Green’s page was locked for 12 hours because of “multiple violations of our civic integrity policy.”
Green’s account includes a treasure trove of false claims about voter fraud in Georgia. She’s also peddled QAnon conspiracy theories.
Poland Seeks to Regulate Social Media Bans
News of decreased misinformation online also comes as Poland’s hard-right Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has proposed a new bill marketed as a “freedom of speech protection” law.
Notably, if it passes, that law would prevent social media platforms from deleting content or banning users who don’t break Polish law.
If a platform refuses to comply with an order to restore either a banned user or deleted content, it could face fines of anywhere from $13,000 to $13 million dollars.
Despite this, domestic regulations on their own are likely to be ineffective. Because of that, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is also lobbying the European Union to regulate the issue.
Critics of the law have argued that the “over-removal” of content on social media is a “non-existent risk,” especially when compared to hate speech targeting the LGBTQ+ community, Muslims, and refugees.