President Donald Trump’s return on Monday evening from a three-day stay at Walter Reed Medical Center, where he had been admitted less than 24 hours after announcing that he had tested positive for Covid-19, was typical of White House PR efforts: replete with staged bravado and littered with misinformation about the dangers of the coronavirus.
The event, just like the preceding three days, did little to answer some of the nation’s most pressing questions, from the president’s condition to the timeline of events that led to his becoming ill. Over the weekend, doctors offered up conflicting information about Trump’s treatment, and the White House has not provided details about when the president — who had traveled to Cleveland, Minnesota, and New Jersey the three nights before his announcement — had last tested negative.
Moreover, Trump’s decision to have Secret Service agents drive him past supporters outside the hospital, and his removal of his mask before re-entering the White House, have raised serious doubts about how seriously he is taking his own contagiousness as well as the safety of those around him. That concern also applies to those in his administration; multiple high-level officials in attendance at a maskless Sept. 26 Rose Garden event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett have now tested positive. On Monday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who over the weekend had been briefing reporters without a mask, said she had Covid-19, and since then White House staffers on her team have contracted the illness. Journalists assigned to the White House have also tested positive, and the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported that two members of the housekeeping staff had as well.
American Oversight has launched an investigation into the outbreak of Covid-19 at the White House, beginning with Freedom of Information Act requests filed with the Justice Department for guidance and communications regarding the presidential line of succession. We also filed FOIA requests with Walter Reed and the U.S. Secret Service seeking information about procedures for protecting the health and safety of the president and federal employees.
The Secret Service had over the summer told us that it had no records reflecting assessments of how Trump’s travel has impacted the safety of its agents, even as public reports indicate that multiple agents have contracted the virus over the past few months.
You can find updates to our investigation into the White House outbreak here.
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