Donald Trump has said he will return to work at the White House “soon” in a new video released from hospital.
The US president said “I feel much better now” following treatment for coronavirus at Walter Reed military hospital, whose staff he praised.
“We’re working hard to get me all the way back,” he said. “I have to be back because we still have to make America great again.”
Dressed in his habitual navy suit with an open-necked white shirt, Mr Trump was seated behind a desk for his video address. There was only a slight hoarseness to his voice.
Addressing his Covid-19 diagnosis, Mr Trump said: “This is something that’s happened, it’s happened to millions of people all over the world and I’m fighting for them, not just in the US, I’m fighting for them all over the world.”
The president claimed that he had “no choice” but to potentially expose himself to Covid-19 at events like the recent Supreme Court nomination ceremony, given his position as leader of the United States. He has repeatedly mocked his election opponent, Joe Biden, for shunning the sorts of campaign rallies he has held around the country.
“I was given that alternative, stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don't ever leave, don’t even go to the Oval Office, just stay upstairs and enjoy it. Don't see people, don't talk to people, and just be done with it, and I can’t do that. I had to be out front. This is America, this is the greatest country in the world, I can't be locked up in a room upstairs,” Mr Trump said. “As a leader you have to confront problems.”
That unrepentant tone both reflected and contradicted a statement the president dictated to his personal lawyer and confidant, Rudy Giuliani, and which was published in the New York Post earlier in the afternoon. “If I had handled [the pandemic] any other way, I would have created more panic, more fear in the American people," Mr Trump said, using language he first deployed when Bob Woodward revealed he had “played down” the deadliness of Covid-19.
The four-minute clip posted to Twitter is familiar Trump fare – unscripted, somewhat rambling and conversational with enthusiastic talk of “miracle” treatments and bullish confidence about beating coronavirus.
But the president did sound a note of caution, telling viewers: “You don’t know, over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test and we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.”
On Saturday the White House chief of staff told the Associated Press the president’s condition had been “very concerning” on the day he was airlifted to hospital. The AP reported Mr Trump was given supplementary oxygen, though his doctors dodged questions on that topic at a briefing. In the video, Mr Trump alluded to the fact he had felt markedly unwell on Friday.
Dr Sean Conley, the White House physician, painted a rosy picture during the Saturday briefing, while Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, had changed his tune by the time he spoke to Reuters. He said: “The president is doing very well. He is up and about and asking for documents to review. The doctors are very pleased with his vital signs. I have met with him on multiple occasions today on a variety of issues.”
Melania Trump is weathering her own illness well, the president said in his video. He said: “As you have probably read she is slightly younger than me, just a tiny little bit. We know the situation, age versus younger people, and Melania is handling it statistically like it is supposed to be handled. And that makes me very happy.”
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