The timeline given by his doctors outside Walter Reed this morning was that we’re 72 hours past his diagnosis and 48 hours past the point that he received Regeneron’s experimental antibody drug.
But that would mean he was diagnosed early Wednesday and that he was given the drug early Thursday. He held a fundraiser and a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday and another fundraiser in New Jersey on Thursday. He didn’t tell the world he’d tested positive until very late Thursday night, after the news about Hope Hicks had leaked.
Was he actually going to try to cover up the fact that he had COVID, knowing that asymptomatic carriers are capable of spreading it to people around them? Was he even going to tell his immediate aides that they were in danger?
Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley says Trump is “72 hours into the diagnosis” which would mean he was diagnosed on Wednesday — before his rally and fundraiser. pic.twitter.com/zuk4RYw8Sr
— The Recount (@therecount) October 3, 2020
whoa — here’s Dr. Brian Garibaldi saying, “About 48 hours ago the President received a special antibody directed against the virus.”
48 hours ago is ~12p Thursday; Trump left for his NJ fundraiser at 1:04pm, and tweeted his diagnosis 12 hours after that. pic.twitter.com/sQCiNFClGy
— j.d. durkin (@jiveDurkey) October 3, 2020
The clean-up attempt is under way:
A White House official clarifies Dr. Conley’s timeline. He says Conley meant to say it’s Day 3, not 72 hours in—the diagnosis was made Thursday night—and that Garibaldi meant to say it’s been two days, not 48 hours, since the Regeneron was administered on Thursday night.
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) October 3, 2020
No one outside the MAGA base is going to believe that two different doctors were so sloppy about something as sensitive as the timeline of when the president was infected and treated that they said “72 hours” and “48 hours” when they meant “day three” and “day two.” Trump’s announcement that he had COVID was made very late on Thursday night; essentially *today* is day two. It looks like they blurted out the truth about the timeline without realizing that that would mean the president had deliberately run the risk of infecting others on Wednesday and Thursday, which would be arguably criminal.
Four years ago he famously said that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single vote. Would he lose a single vote if he knowingly exposed hundreds of people, including White House staff and aging GOP donors, to a killer virus? I feel like he would.
Here’s what the timeline looks like if Trump’s doctors were speaking accurately:
This looks bad. pic.twitter.com/5Ewb3oLa11
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) October 3, 2020
The White House had better clean this up convincingly, not with “both doctors misspoke on a matter of utmost medical and political sensitivity in delivering a statement which they had many hours to prepare.”
This might not be the only thing they’re covering up. Trump’s doctor, Sean Conley, was very encouraging about his condition this morning — no fever, no *current* supplemental oxygen (he was evasive about whether Trump had ever had oxygen), breathing fine. But this suggests otherwise:
BREAKING: “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.”
–A source familiar with the President's health, to pool reporters
— Sara Cook (@saraecook) October 3, 2020
Jonah Goldberg’s right. Whoever gave that statement to reporters so soon after Conley’s presser — was it Mark Meadows? — is clearly trying to counter Conley’s message. To all appearances, the president’s doctor isn’t leveling with the public and someone on the inside is trying to get the truth out. Here too:
An AP source is contradicting Dr. Conley, who said an hour ago: “Yesterday and today, [the president] was not on oxygen.” https://t.co/GCcDrm0xOt
— The Recount (@therecount) October 3, 2020
Yesterday Conley put out a statement saying Trump didn’t require supplemental oxygen. Why the discrepancy?
As I write this, three Republican senators (Mike Lee, Thom Tillis, and Ron Johnson) have been newly diagnosed with COVID, as have Kellyanne Conway and Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien. Not all of those people were at the apparent “superspreader” event last Saturday, Trump’s announcement in the Rose Garden of Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination — Johnson wasn’t, I believe, and I’m not sure about Stepien. But Conway, Tillis, Lee, Melania Trump, and of course the president were there, all seated in proximity to each other. The president of Notre Dame, who’s also now infected, was close by too:
Kellyanne was seated almost at the exact center of the triangle formed by Sen. Mike Lee, Melania Trump and Rev. Jenkins — all of whom tested positive earlier today. https://t.co/m3u88qDyPQ https://t.co/wm2SesZ4if pic.twitter.com/RLOfrIhGj0
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 3, 2020
Chris Christie is also infected. He, Conway, and Hope Hicks were all in debate prep with Trump earlier this week. That would have been before the president knew he had COVID even under Conley’s “72 hours” timeline, but it seems increasingly likely that either someone got infected at the Barrett event and brought it into debate prep or vice versa.
Or maybe even earlier than that? WaPo reports that RNC chair Ronna McDaniel was at a fundraiser with Trump at his hotel in D.C. the night before the Barrett announcement. She “then spent two days with the president before beginning to show symptoms earlier this week,” but she wasn’t at the Rose Garden ceremony, I don’t believe. If McDaniel picked up the virus on Friday night, maybe Trump picked it up then too. Or maybe he had it and gave it to her or she to him, and then he gave it to a bunch more people in the following days.
Either way, if you’re skeptical that so much transmission could have happened outdoors on Saturday, know that I am too. But here’s the thing: Not all of the festivities celebrating Barrett’s nomination happened outdoors that day.
From tomorrow’s NYT A1, a reminder that the Amy Coney Barrett WH event was not entirely outdoors pic.twitter.com/wSJvKOY4JD
— Rebecca Buck (@RebeccaBuck) October 3, 2020
If the partisan IDs in that photo were different, it would launch a thousand populist takes about the hypocrisy, incompetence, and selfishness of America’s political ruling class. I’ve seen people on Twitter today tagging that photo and noting that they had to cancel a wedding because of COVID restrictions and yet here’s the White House throwing a big party for all of its friends, indoors, without masks or social distancing, knowing full well that COVID tests can and do produce false negatives all the time. Others have looked at that photo and pointed out that, although every major country has had a nasty outbreak of coronavirus, hardly any have seen their governments hobbled by it. Iran saw a bunch of officials get infected but that was in February, before anyone knew much about the virus. Only in America are our leaders so stupid and thoughtless that they could maneuver themselves into seeding an outbreak seven months into this nightmare.
It’s a national humiliation on top of a tragedy, an endless disgrace. And then there’s this:
For every famous political figure exposed at these events, there’s going to be a non-famous staffer who never makes the news, who doesn’t have the same access to rapid testing and treatment, and who had no say in the choice to eschew basic safety measures for symbolic reasons.
— Julian Sanchez (@normative) October 3, 2020
WaPo reports that Secret Service agents have taken to complaining to friends that Trump has put them at risk repeatedly by not taking proper precautions. “This administration doesn’t care about the Secret Service,” said one in a discussion group. “It’s so obvious.” White House political aides are reportedly complaining too, although of course not on the record.
The twist at the end of all this is that it may have put Barrett’s confirmation in danger. Mitch McConnell announced today that all Senate floor activity has been postponed until October 19 as Lee, Johnson, and Tillis recuperate. Committee work to advance Barrett will continue, but obviously no one knows how bad this might get at this point. If several more senators suddenly test positive and need weeks to recover, the GOP may not be able to muster 50 votes for confirmation before the election. CNN reports that Lee, Johnson, and Tillis all attended caucus lunches this week, where they might well have spread the virus to colleagues. Stay tuned.
Update: Read the statement below. It would be easier to believe if Conley hadn’t already been caught being deceptive about when Trump received oxygen and if his rosy account of Trump’s condition hadn’t been immediately contradicted by a White House official speaking to reporters this morning. More importantly, it wasn’t just Conley who supposedly misstated the timeline. Conley said “72 hours” when he allegedly meant “day three” but a second doctor, Garibaldi, used the term “48 hours” to describe when Trump received the antibody treatment instead of saying “on day two.” Two different doctors made a sloppy mistake in exactly the same way on a matter as sensitive as when, precisely, Trump’s battle with COVID began? Not likely.
He also misspelled the name of the drug’s manufacturer. It’s “Regeneron,” not “Regeron.” Either Conley’s sloppy or some non-doctor wrote this statement for him in order to do political damage control.
Memorandum from the President's Physician pic.twitter.com/s2YOty3TVZ
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 3, 2020
Update: The most charitable interpretation of all this for the White House is that the most powerful man in the world is being treated by sloppy doctors. The less charitable interpretation is that Conley and Garibaldi unwittingly exposed a cover-up of the fact that Trump was out campaigning around people despite knowing he was positive for coronavirus and now everyone’s desperately trying to cover it up again.
Update: Good question. When was Trump’s last *negative* test? Before the debate with Biden? After? If Hope Hicks was having symptoms on Wednesday, the president should have been tested that day (and every day, really). What were the results of that day’s test?
Update: The AP is now confirming that it was Trump’s own chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who told reporters after Conley finished speaking that Trump’s condition yesterday was “very concerning” and that the next 48 hours are critical.
Update: An executive from Regeneron tells CBS that Conley got something else wrong in his memo. Their drug doesn’t involve “polyclonal” antibodies.