Trump campaign held major fundraiser despite knowing president’s coronavirus exposure

‘He’s probably critiquing the way that I’m answering these questions,’ chief of staff says of ailing president

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
@BennettJohnT
Friday 02 October 2020 19:14
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Hope Hicks boards Marine One after Donald Trump

The White House sent Donald Trump to a big-dollar campaign fundraiser on Thursday with around 100 people knowing the president had been in close contact with a West Wing aide who had just tested positive for coronavirus.

Mr Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, confirmed that Hope Hicks, who had been experiencing symptoms was notified that she had coronavirus “right as Marine One was taking off yesterday” from the White House’s South Lawn to ferry the president to Air Force One for the flight to his Bedminster, New Jersey, resort that hosted the GOP fundraiser.

The former GOP congressman briefed reporters outside the White House about the president’s and first lady’s health after both tested positive for coronavirus early Friday morning.

The chief of staff described Mr Trump as still full of energy and having given him “five or six taskings” that are due back to the president later on Friday.

“He continues to be not only in good spirits but energetic,” Mr Meadows said. "He is certainly wanting to make sure that we stay engaged."

Despite his boss and Ms Hicks, who is heavily involved in West Wing functions, both contracting the highly contagious virus, Mr Meadows came out to the North Lawn driveway without a face covering. He even acknowledged the spreadability of the disease.

“What you have is a virus that is contagious. Has the ability to affect everybody,” he said, saying Mr Trump caught it even though “we keep a pretty wide circle” around the commander in chief.

“Even with that wide circle around the president, we find that’s he’s having to deal with this like so many millions of Americans,” Mr Meadows said.

There are at least 7.3m cases in the United States and at least 208,000 confirmed deaths from Covid-19, according to The Johns Hopkins University.  

Mr Trump’s chief of staff declined to describe what specific things the president is being given by his military doctors to combat the virus.

But he did say Mr Trump is “in the residence” at the executive mansion, likely watching him update reporters on live television.

“He’s in the residence now,” Mr Meadows said of the voracious cable news-watching-president. “He’s probably critiquing the way that I’m answering these questions.”

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