Update (520PM): President Trump paid a surprise visit to "great patriots" supporters gathered outside Walter Reed, giving the public advance notice just minutes earlier in a tweeted video message moments before the visit.
In the 73 second clip, Trump thanked the doctors and nurses of Walter Reed. He also said that "I learned a lot about Covid. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn't the let's-read-the-books school. And I get it, and I understand it and it's a very interesting thing."
Trump also unveiled that "he is about to make a little surprise visit" to the "great patriots out on the street" which he did moments after the tweet was sent out:
Another angle of Trump driving by his supporters outside Walter Reed military hospital.
Trump drives by the press and supporters outside Walter Reed hospital. pic.twitter.com/3phtKthqTH— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) October 4, 2020
According to press reports, there were Uyghur flags on the street, welcoming the president.
Incredible— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) October 4, 2020
Trump made a surprise visit to his supporters outside Walter Reed Medical Hospital and there are Uyghur flags out there to welcome him. pic.twitter.com/wFW50PbWXH
Clearly Trump feels healthy enough to mingle... and to create even more outrage among liberals, who were furious about the lack of precautions by Trump who reportedly endangered all those secret service personnel in the car with him.
An attending physician at Walter Reed: https://t.co/tBvJozNSZ7— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) October 4, 2020
They are so so *so* angry. It's truly out of control. https://t.co/n33jMAlHM8— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 4, 2020
Ironically, Trump appears to have made more media appearances - despite being sick with covid - on Sunday, than Joe Biden:
Wait was there a Biden lid today??— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) October 4, 2020
Do more events than Biden
While in the hospital with covid?? https://t.co/cpDAAlDQFe
And in case that's not enough, some on the left were also infuriated that the White House is already selling memorial coins commemorating Trump "defeating" Covid. The price: $100.
This is real. pic.twitter.com/xcwbHMzSXE— Spencer Jakab (@Spencerjakab) October 4, 2020
* * *
Update (1200ET): Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley, President Trump's doctor, has just delivered his first briefing to White House reporters since yesterday's briefing where he was later forced to retract comments, including about the progression of the president's infection, and was cornered into suggesting that Trump had received supplemental oxygen on Friday.
With the press seemingly fixated on the "48 hours" timeline delivered by Mark Meadows during his "off-the-record" comments to reporters yesterday, Dr. Conley and Dr. Brian Garibaldi - who also spoke at the presser - said that Trump could be discharged as early as Monday (within the 48 hours timeline), and added that Trump's experiences with a fever and shortness of breath were merely "transitory" incidents. Dr. Garibaldi said "our hope is that we can plan for a discharge as early as tomorrow to the White House."
"I didn't want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction," Dr. Conley says when asked why he was reluctant to answer specific questions about the president's health yesterday. pic.twitter.com/TbzY1JKplO— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) October 4, 2020
Trump completed a second dose of remdesivir on Saturday and "today he feels well," Garibaldi said. Trump has shown no averse reactions to the drug. Trump's kidney and liver functioning are normal, Garibaldi added.
Trump's condition is steadily improving, doctors said during the opening remarks of Sunday's briefing on the president's health. But as with any illness, "there are ups and downs".
NEW: “Since we spoke last, the president has continued to improve. As with any illness, there are frequent ups and downs over the course,” President Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley tells reporters. https://t.co/9aZaXI7t8Q pic.twitter.com/grFmsrqk5e— ABC News (@ABC) October 4, 2020
Dr. Conley said there were two episodes where Trump required supplemental oxygen. But the timing wasn't exactly clear from his comments, as he offered what appeared to be deliberately vague answers.
Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the president, on timeline of Pres. Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment: "Over the course of his illness, the president has experienced two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation." https://t.co/9aZaXI7t8Q pic.twitter.com/XhhmNyHdI1— ABC News (@ABC) October 4, 2020
Doctors claimed that when pressed to try the oxygen on Friday, Trump initially was reluctant to try it, insisting that he didn't need it.
Trump physician Dr. Sean Conley: "I recommended the president we try some supplemental oxygen, see how he'd respond -- He was fairly adamant that he didn't need it." https://t.co/3UAvSO49pj pic.twitter.com/yZB3Sv9sO6— The Hill (@thehill) October 4, 2020
Dr. Conley said he believed one of the episodes occurred on Saturday, but he said he had to check on the timing.
Pressed on clarifying Pres. Trump's second drop in oxygen, Dr. Conley says "yesterday there was another episode," but doesn't offer clear answer on whether the president had another round of supplemental oxygen. https://t.co/9aZaXI7t8Q pic.twitter.com/fQJr5Hh7wb— ABC News (@ABC) October 4, 2020
Dr. Conley insisted that Trump wears a mask every time he's around his doctors.
“The president wears a mask any time he’s around us,” Dr. Conley says when asked why Trump is not wearing a mask in videos and photos of Trump at Walter Reed, but won’t say if Trump was in negative pressure room: “I’m not going to get into the specifics.” https://t.co/eDVO8k0zPW pic.twitter.com/CX8NyJVCfL— ABC News (@ABC) October 4, 2020
Steroid dexamethasone, a powerful tool to combat inflation, has also been part of Trump's treatment, Dr. Garibaldi said.
Trump's doctor, Dr Sean Conley, says the president has been treated with dexamethasone after "two episodes of transient drops in oxygen saturation"— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 4, 2020
Latest: https://t.co/7vmMh5jzcx pic.twitter.com/MZUx6YoOED
Pressed by reporters to explain yesterday's dodges and "clarifications", Dr. Conley said he had been trying to avoid giving a negative impression of Trump's illness: "The fact of the matter is he's doing really well."
Asked about Trump's condition as of Sunday morning, Dr. Conley said the president was doing "great", contrary to Meadows's comments about Trump's status being "concernng".
After Dr. Conley said yesterday Trump was in great shape, chief of staff Mark Meadows said that Trump’s vitals were “concerning.”— ABC News (@ABC) October 4, 2020
Pressed on the inconsistent statements, Conley says that Meadows was referring to a “very transient limited episode.” https://t.co/9aZaXI7t8Q pic.twitter.com/YICZc67Blp
Cable news reporters immediately pointed out that Dr. Conley's comments weren't consistent with what Meadows apparently told reporters yesterday.
Doctors say today that Trump may be discharged tomorrow. But yesterday they said "day 7 to 10 are the most critical." By current accounting, Monday only brings Trump to day 5 or 6.— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) October 4, 2020
Trump himself said Saturday night the critical window was still a few days away: "You don’t know over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test so we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days."— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) October 4, 2020
Dr. Conley defended Mark Meadows off-the-record statements to the press corps, though notably while Meadows appeared at the briefing, he didn't say anything to the press.
"The chief & I work side by side," Dr. Conley says when asked if people should believe him or Mark Meadows. Conley says Meadows's statement yesterday was "misconstrued." Meadows goes back inside with the doctors instead of separately speaking with reporters like yesterday.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) October 4, 2020
Circling back to the briefing, Conley noted that despite the "two episodes" of respiratory distress mentioned above, Trump has endured remarkably well so far during the course of his illness. The president is now stable, with a blood-oxygen level of 98%, Dr. Conley said.
Trump was given supplemental oxygen Friday because his blood oxygen level dropped below 94%. He was on it for maybe an hour, Dr. Conley said. Trump's oxygen level has never dropped below 90%.
But now that he's doing better, doctors are starting discharge planning.
"If everything continues to go well we're going to start discharge planning"— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 4, 2020
Asked why he was reluctant to disclose that the president had received oxygen, Dr Sean Conley says "it came off we were trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true" https://t.co/7vmMh5jzcx pic.twitter.com/LH6q5wWk2M
CNN reported that people close to Trump are saying he's angry that he cannot address the media himself, and has been "critical" of what others have said. Most of that frustration, CNN says, has focused on Meadows, whose flip-flopping - initially saying Trump had a "mild" fever only to backtrack later in his Saturday evening interview with Fox news - has reportedly displeased Trump.
Trump is furious with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows after the top West Wing official contradicted WH physician Dr, Sean Conley’s assessment of the president on Saturday, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) October 4, 2020
Earlier Sunday, a senior Trump campaign aide told Bloomberg that Trump will "soon be ready to go back on the campaign trail".
As far as the Sunday shows are concerned, it looks like Jason Miller, a longtime Trump communications aide, shouldered the responsibility of appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" where he said that Trump wanted to "remind folks to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer, make sure that if you can't socially distance to wear a mask."
Asked about the WSJ poll showing Biden's lead widening over Trump's to 14 points, Miller told ABC's "This Week" that the campaisgn is upbeat about Trump's prospects in the swing states. He later accused Biden of using his mask as "a prop", while the Trump campaign had always distributed masks and hand sanitizer at its events.
Miller and other Trump aides have employed colorful language during their TV spots when discussing Trump's return to the White House, and to the campaign trail. Trump "is going to defeat " the virus, "and I think Trump gets to the WHite House and out on the campaign trail that it's going to be a slingshot going forward."
Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation", Trump National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, sounded slightly more cautious, telling the world that it's "too soon to know how Trump will do. "Day seven and eight are critical days," he said. An hour later, Dr. Conley and Dr. Garibaldi claimed Trump could be out of Walter Reed by Day 6.
O'Brien also revealed that Trump would receive his daily national security briefing on Sunday, as per usual.
Asked about transfer of power, O'Brien insisted: "We've got a great team in place and the president is firmly in control."
During his appearances, Miller shared the Trump Campaign's plan to try and make up for lost time: Starting Monday, "Operation MAGA" would begin, with virtual events on Monday night, then the VP debate Wednesday. After that, Trump family members and surrogates will fan out across the country to try and build momentum.
We imagine the press found Sunday's briefing to be more helpful than Saturday's overall, but ABC's Jon Karl is apparently still sore about the doctor's reluctance to answer all the press's questions on Saturday.
.@jonkarl on Pres. Trump’s condition after COVID-19 diagnosis: “It was maddening to see the medical team refuse to answer so many questions and to be spinning as if this was just another political briefing. Dr. Conley refused to answer basic questions.” https://t.co/wHLstt40ox pic.twitter.com/3A71MSZlm2— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 4, 2020
Though, apparently, CNN is still not happy.
* * *
We strongly suspect Saturday will forever be remembered for the controversy surrounding White House Chief of Staff's "off-the-record" comments to the White House press corps. The backlash was predictably intense - and revealing: it prompted Ryan Lizza and a handful of his colleagues to 'out' Meadows en masse, and somehow triggered a flurry of morbid rumors, attributed to "anonymous" senior administration officials, claiming Trump's condition was "much more serious" than the administration was letting on, leading to percolating suspicions that Trump might be on his death bed.
Vaity Fair's Gabe Sherman led the pack with this snippet of "reporting".
Conversations w Republicans close to WH over last 12 hours indicate it’s been far more dire than WH has said. Before being taken to Walter Reed, Trump kept asking aides, “Am I going out like Stan Chera? Am I?” (Chera was Trump’s NYC friend who died of Covid in April)— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) October 3, 2020
Per source, Trump was told on Friday he could go to Walter Reed voluntarily, but he would be taken no matter what when his condition worsened. Doctors told Trump if he waited he could lose ability to walk to Marine One (optics of a wheelchair or stretcher obvs would be terrible)— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) October 3, 2020
One reason Trump could be withholding truth of his condition: he doesn’t want calls for transfer of power to grow. At what point does Cabinet consider 25th amendment?— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) October 3, 2020
That led to rumors that Trump would somehow try to tap Ivanka to lead the country in the event of his incapacitation, bypassing the 25th amendment.
Sources: Trump had heart palpitations on Friday, a possible negative side effect of Regeneron antibody treatment. His fever reached 103. And a G7 ally wonders if he’ll appoint Ivanka president instead of Pence. My latest:— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) October 3, 2020
In response, the White House rallied Trump to appear for a 4-minute speech where he explained that him getting ill was simply fate, and that as president, he had a responsibility to stay out front, and in the public eye, not simply hide out in the White House.
Critics tore apart the footage, and within 30 minutes of the video's publication, amateur film analysts had zeroed in on one editing break where a cough was clearly edited out.
Mark Meadows went on Fox last night to cop to his "off the record" comments and explain that Trump really is feeling much better. Sherman reported that Trump's worsening condition on Friday might have been partly due to a bad reaction to Regeneron's treatment, but the unflattering portrayal published by Vanity Fair also included the following line, which appears to be the conventional view: "if Trump can get out of the hospital by Tuesday, then he’s gone through the worst of it. But if he’s still there after Tuesday, the worst is yet to come."
In response to the growing pressure from the press, the White House released a set of photos late Saturday evening purporting to show Trump "working" from Walter Reed. But they were almost immediately attacked for being obviously staged, and only further cementing the notion that Trump, while not deathly ill, is still pretty sick.
Aviation reporter Jon Ostrower published a twitter thread where he examined the metadata embedded in the photo files and discovered that they were taken within ten minutes of each other, which would suggest that they may have been staged (according to the White House, Trump worked through the afternoon and into the evening).
Curious, old digital reporter’s trick, is there any EXIF data inside those two photos of the President that the White House released from Walter Reed?— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) October 4, 2020
The photos released by the WH tonight of the president working at Walter Reed were taken 10 minutes apart at 5:25:59 pm and 5:35:40 pm ET Saturday, according to the EXIF data embedded in both @AP wire postings that were shared by the White House this evening. pic.twitter.com/EzeqIkGdf7— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) October 4, 2020
Others slammed Trump for appearing to struggle to sign his name to a blank piece of paper.
Nothing can stop him from working for the American people. RELENTLESS! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/2ZSat782qe— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) October 4, 2020
He is signing blank pieces of paper. TRUTHLESS. https://t.co/wpth3LBEJt— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) October 4, 2020
With little new information out Sunday morning, the media has largely turned to speculating about what Trump's illness will mean for the election, while Trump's allies appeared on Fox News to talk up Trump's condition and state of mind. Steve Cortes, a Trump campaign aide, says on Fox that Trump is “on the DL right now but very shortly he’s going to be back in the game throwing 95 mph fastballs”
CNN is apparently having troubling booking guests for its Sunday shows.
.@jaketapper says CNN asked the WH for either Pence, Meadows, Fauci, Birx, Azar, Adams, Collins, Redfield, Kushner or O'Brien, among others, to come on SOTU. "The White House declined to provide any of them -- any of them -- to update you on the president's condition."— Nolan D. McCaskill (@NolanDMcCaskill) October 4, 2020
And is lashing out in true form.
"It is of the utmost importance for the WH to provide you, the American people, with information, accurate information, factual information, about the president's condition. We asked the WH for someone to be here to do just that today. ... The WH declined to provide any of them." pic.twitter.com/hND0tSV9XA— Nolan D. McCaskill (@NolanDMcCaskill) October 4, 2020
Bloomberg focused on rehashing Trump's blithe response to the virus. One 'expert' claimed that "[i]f you had to invent a way to transmit this virus, that’s the environment you would invent," said Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "The only higher risk environment I can think of is the air in an ICU that is caring for lots of Covid patients."
Even WSJ's coverage seemed to focus on Biden's widening 14-point lead in the polls.
President Trump is drawing his weakest voter support of the year in his reelection race following Tuesday’s contentious debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. https://t.co/E0Tj6FcasG— Paul Vieira (@paulvieira) October 4, 2020
Though, in one of the more useful pieces of reporting, WSJ tracked every major Trump Administration event in the last week or so and created a visual guide to the COVID-19 status of every major administration official present.
At any rate, it's been a crazy week. We imagine we'll be hearing more from the administration soon.
What a year of a week. pic.twitter.com/hdqAV0A5jQ— Markus Batchelor (@MarkusforDC) October 3, 2020
To recap, with White House aide and Trump personal assistant Nick Lunas testing positive Sunday morning, and Chris Christie testing positive and being hospitalized last night, the number infected as swelled to 26. Sen. Susan Collins has tested negative.
Christie apparently exposed a bunch of ABC News staffers to the virus, and they all now apparently need to quarantine.
Breaking—a number of @ABC News staff w/ direct contact with Chris Christie, who was an ABC News debate pundit, must now go into quarantine. ABC executives are absolutely fuming that Christie’s “reckless behavior is risking the lives of ABC News employees."https://t.co/ZVmcSZE3J2— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) October 3, 2020
As of Saturday morning, 24 people have tested positive in the White House outbreak, as the number of infected staffers who attended the Cleveland debate climbed from 1 to 11.
1+2. President & Melania Trump
3. Bill Stepien, Trump campaign mgr
4. Hope Hicks
5. Kellyanne Conway
6. Sen. Ron Johnson
7. Sen. Mike Lee
8. Sen. Thom Tillis
9. Ronna McDaniel
10. Notre Dame Pres. Jenkins
11-13. Three WH reporters
14-24. Eleven staffers from Cleveland debate
25. Chris Christie
26. Nick Lunas
Bloomberg is keeping a comprehensive tally of everyone who has tested positive and negative. We imagine we'll be hearing more from the Sunday shows.