The discovery of the virus within the heavily fortified White House complex this week sent shock waves through the staff and prompted renewed scrutiny of the safety measures around a commander in chief who has flouted social distancing policies and other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the pandemic.

Several security officials with executive branch experience said in interviews Friday that the White House has taken a lax and risky approach that, in their view, reflected Trump’s consistent efforts to minimize the threat from the virus. The president has pushed to reopen parts of the country as more than 30 million people have filed for unemployment benefits, upending his plans to tout a strong economy as a core of his reelection message this fall…

“This is a show of bravado. This is a show of ‘I got this. I’m in control,’ ” said one former security official familiar with White House security planning during past administrations.

“He’s tried to minimize this threat from day one. It’s the only way he can laugh in the face of this disease,” said this person, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to frankly address sensitive security matters. “If he backtracks now, and starts wearing a mask, it will contradict the red meat he’s feeding to his base constantly. This is the first health crisis that has been politicized.”