Mark Meadows: The suggestion in my own book that Trump had COVID earlier than thought is fake news

I’ve seen plenty of Trump aides accuse others of fake news. I’ve never seen one accuse himself of fake news.

Kidding aside, the “fake news” to which Meadows refers in the clip below is allegedly how the media is distorting what’s in his new book, not what’s actually in the book. But he’s being dishonest. If this Guardian account is accurate, Meadows strongly implies in his new memoir that Trump had COVID on September 26, three days before the first presidential debate and five days before his diagnosis was confirmed, and that he and Meadows had every reason to suspect it. It’s Meadows who’s scrambling to spin that now, no doubt because you-know-who is pissed off at him for leaking it.

Read yesterday’s post for the timeline according to Meadows. Trump tested positive on the 26th, then a second test that same day showed he was negative. The “fake news,” according to Meadows, lies in assuming that the initial positive test must have been accurate and the subsequent negative test must have been false when it may have been the other way around. But the media’s suspicions that Trump had COVID on the 26th aren’t being conjured out of thin air. They come from .. Mark Meadows, who apparently makes a point in the book of describing how Trump looked under the weather that week despite his negative test.

Despite the president looking “a little tired” and suspecting a “slight cold” [on September 26], Meadows says he was “content” that Trump travelled that evening to a rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania…

On debate day, 29 September, Meadows says, Trump looked slightly better – “emphasis on the word slightly”.

“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.”

If someone you knew seemed ill after testing positive for COVID and then negative, which of those results would you suspect was accurate? Wouldn’t you want them to take a more accurate laboratory PCR test for conclusive results?

Meadows wouldn’t have focused on Trump’s appearance that week in his book if he didn’t mean to imply that he thought Trump had COVID all along, including at the debate. But that’s a political problem for Trump since he was around staffers and others for days between his initial positive test on the 26th and the confirmation that he was positive on October 1. At least one aide, Hope Hicks, also tested positive that week. If Trump was already infected on debate day, he put Joe Biden and others in the debate hall at risk. How did Meadows fail to anticipate the backlash from revealing that Trump had reason to know that he had COVID all along?

Did he think he was … doing Trump a favor? Tim Miller has a theory:

The timeline as laid out by Meadows indicates that Trump tested positive for COVID three days before that debate, then followed up with a second negative test, then quit taking tests altogether so that he wouldn’t be prevented from debating.

Trump has kinda sorta disputed this version of events via fax, though it’s unclear why his own former chief of staff, a toadying supplicant, would be peddling fake news. It seems much more likely that Trump is using weasel words and Meadows is such a moron that he thought relaying this story made his old boss look like a Strong Fighting Man for all the poorly endowed super fans in need of a big daddy. Trump is so alpha that he beat Sleepy Joe in a debate while he had COVID!

If Trump tested positive and then negative on the 26th and then somehow didn’t get tested again before debate day on the 29th, it’s hard to reach any other conclusion than that he and Meadows feared that the initial positive test was accurate but they didn’t want to risk confirming it. That would have forced Trump out of the debate, which would have made him look “weak” and reckless. So they treated the negative test on the 26th as definitive despite the fact that he appeared ill that week and let him walk around exposing everyone around him to the virus.

There’s a detail in Meadows’s account of the 26th that I didn’t notice yesterday. But WaPo did:

According to the Guardian’s summary of Meadows’s book, Trump was tested first with an unnamed “old model kit,” which produced a positive result. With Trump already aboard Air Force One, the White House appeared to rerun the same sample with one of Abbott’s Binax rapid antigen tests, which produced a negative result.

Those tactics expressly conflict with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that a positive antigen test should be followed by a second, more accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which requires a fresh sample and is performed in a laboratory.

They didn’t re-swab Trump for the second test, to get a new sample. He was already on Air Force One and headed home by then. Evidently they just took the initial swab, which had already been processed in the first testing kit, and stuck it into a second testing kit. And when it turned up negative, giving them the result they wanted, they conveniently didn’t bother testing him again until after the debate, days later.

Meadows may have been too dumb to recognize that his narrative means Trump suspected he had COVID all that week and knowingly exposed his contacts to it, but Trump isn’t. “Trump on Wednesday was furious that Meadows revealed the anecdote in his forthcoming book and that it was published via the liberal-leaning Guardian, according to a person familiar with the former president’s reaction,” WaPo reported last night. That explains Meadows’s frantic “fake news” clean-up today. There’s already tension between him and Trump due to Meadows’s cooperation with the January 6 committee; now he’s all but accused Trump of willfully endangering the people around him last fall after his initial positive test. Time for some damage control.