Donald Trump allegedly tested positive for COVID just three days before he faced off against President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential debate, according to a new book written by his former chief of staff.
In an excerpt from The Chief’s Chief — obtained by The Guardian — Mark Meadows claimed the 75-year-old learned he had tested positive on September 26 after boarding Air Force One en route to a rally in Middletown, Penn.
Hours earlier, the ex commander-in-chief attended the infamous Rose Garden event honoring Supreme Court then-nominee Amy Barrett at the White House, in which 11 attendees contracted the disease.
Meadows, who worked under Trump for two years, alleged that 45’s response to hearing the news that he tested positive “rhyme[d] with ‘Oh spit, you’ve gotta be trucking lidding me,'” per the Guardian.He alsonoted that the father-of-five’s initial test had been done with an old model.
A second test resulted in a negative outcome, in which, as Meadows tells it, he could “almost hear the collective ‘Thank God’ that echoed through the cabin.”
Meadows claims Trump’s negative test allowed him to carry on with business as usual, which included meeting with military families, appearing at a rally — and facing off with Biden at the presidential debate against in Ohio.
(For his part, Meadows explains he “didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks, but I also didn’t want to alarm the public if there was nothing to worry about — which according to the new, much more accurate test, there was not.”)
On the day of the debate, Meadows noted that Trump looked “slightly” better, but “the dark circles under his eyes had deepened” and “he was moving more slowly than usual.”
On October 2, Trump announced via his former Twitter account that he and his wife Melania Trump “tested positive for COVID-19” that night. Melania took to Twitter to reassure her followers that the couple were “are feeling good and I have postponed all upcoming engagements”.
Fox News‘ Chris Wallace — who moderated the debate — later admitted that both Trump and Biden were believed to have tested negative prior to the event, based on an “honor system”.
According to Yahoo! News, Trump blasted Meadows’ claims in a statement: “The story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News. In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate.”
President Biden, 79, remarked “I don’t think about the former President” when asked about claims that Trump had tested positive prior to their debate, per CNN. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Fauci also insisted he “certainly was not aware of Trump’s test positivity or negativity” when asked by reporters.