Trump's Condition Substantially Improved, But He's "Not Out Of The Woods Yet", Doctor Says

Update (2200ET): White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has apparently decided to "come clean" to the American public, and, in an interview with Fox News on Saturday evening, acknowledged publicly for the first time that Trump's condition appeared to be rapidly deteriorating on Friday.

"Yesterday, we were real concerned. He had a fever and his blood oxygen level dropped rapidly,"

Meadows added that it was Trump's doctors who made the "recommendation" that Trump travel to Walter Reed "out of an abundance of caution," adding that "there was never a consideration and never even a risk with the transition of power." The Chief of Staff confirmed that the latest video published on Trump's twitter feed was filmed a few hours ago.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany released another statement from Dr Sean Conley, who said that Trump's condition had improved Saturday, that his blood-oxygen levels have been between 96% and 98%. Though Trump isn't "out of the woods yet", doctors remain "cautiously optimistic". They also noted that Trump has completed his 2nd dose of remdesivir.

Meanwhile, dozens of the president's supporters gathered outside Walter Reed earlier waving signs and flags bearing well wishes for the president.

In other news, three Minnesota congressmen are facing backlash over taking a commercial flight home from Washington, DC on Friday night just two days after they shared Air Force One with President Donald Trump.

Apparently, police were called in to investigate a bomb threat, but found nothing.

Finally, CNN's Jake Tapper has reportedly spoken with an administration offiial who confirmed that investigators believe Trump was infected during the ceremony announcing his choice of Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ruth Ginsburg on the Supreme Court at the Rose Garden last weekend. The current thinking is that it "may have come from the Hill".

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Update (1900ET): In the latest video from Walter Reed, undoubtedly prompted by media rumors that the president might be in "very serious" condition, Trump (once again looking notably pale and sounding hoarse and congested) said he "came here, wasn't feeling so well, but I feel much better now." Trump added that the doctors are doing an excellent job to get him back to 100%, adding that he'll be "back soon" to the White House.

However, during the 4-minute recorded speech, Trump acknowledged that the real test will be seeing how the infection develops over the coming days. He also offered a terse explanation about why him being exposed to COVID-19 was inevitable. "As a leader, you have to confront problems."

Before Trump addressed the rumors, anonymous reports about his condition had gotten pretty out of hand.

In other news, NJ Gov Chris Christie has reportedly checked himself into a hospital as his COVID-19 systems worsen. The governor's history of asthma and obesity make him a 'high risk' patient.

Reactions on social media were pretty positive, with many hailing it as one of the finer moments of his presidency.

If nothing else, it should put all speculation about his condition to rest.

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Update (1530ET): Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman, best known for breaking the story about the history of sexual abuse allegations against Roger Ailes, has just  launched himself to the front of the pack of left-wing reporters reporting scurrilous rumblings about the president's condition.

The "am I going out like Stan Chera?" line is almost too on the nose; perhaps it was said in jest.

Why is Trump doing all this? He doesn't want to invoke the 25th amendment, which he could do voluntarily, or - if he's incapacitated, like put on a ventilator - could be done by his cabinet working with Pence, without the president's consent.

Such a transfer of power would be perfunctory and impermanent. And at any rate, if Trump's condition truly does worsen to that point, it might become inevitable.

Meanwhile, at CNN.com.

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Update (1420ET): Apparently, the fact that Dr. Conley's memo included a prominent typo (it misspelled the name of the pharma company Regeneron) set off a fact-checking spree that has led Regeneron to issue another correction.

Thanks for clearing that up.

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Update (1400ET): Dr. Conley has unsurprisingly confirmed the White House's claims that he "misspoke" about Trump being 72 hours in, saying that Saturday is the start of Day 3, meaning Trump is 48 hours in.

Dr. Conley also reaffirmed that Trump was diagnosed Thursday night as the MSM continues to speculate that Trump either wasn't tested right away after developing symptoms, or that he had concealed the true timing of his diagnosis until news of Hope Hicks' infection hit.

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Update (1355ET): President Trump is showing the world that the market isn't far from his mind. While some on Wall Street have suggested that Trump's illness could change the calculus for another stimulus deal, Mitch McConnell's decision to shut down floor activity Saturday probably means that stimulus talks are effectively over for now, as the GOP's Congressional leaders focus on their top priority: the Supreme Court.

But in a tweet sent minutes ago, Trump urged both sides to come together and get a deal done.

Expect more tweets like this one between now and 1800ET tomorrow.

* * *

Update (1340ET): Here's the timeline from Dr. Conley's press conference and the comments made yesterday that the White House is now trying to dispute.

We will likely learn more as the weekend drags on.

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Update (1320ET): As the MSM pushes questions about Trump's condition, the president has once again chimed in on Twitter to tweet that he's "feeling well".

Shortly before, CBS's Paula Reid claimed the fact that the White House and Trump's doctors apparently "can't keep their stories straight".

Trump's backers are accusing the media of "sow doubt" about the president's condition, while the press are insisting that the White House is trying to down play the severity of Trump's sickness, and also possibly disguising the timeline of when Trump was infected, and when he first suspected that he might be infected.

* * *

Update (1300ET): The AP has just apparently "confirmed" what Dr. Conley suggested - but didn't confirm ooutright - during this morning's briefing: That Trump received supplemental oxygen at the White House on Friday.

  • TRUMP WAS ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENTAL OXYGEN AT THE WHITE HOUSE ON FRIDAY BEFORE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL : AP SOURCE

Dr. Conley said during the press briefing that Trump's blood-oxygen level was 96% on Saturday, which is normal.

Here's Ryan Lizza, seemingly confirming it.

Dr. Conley insisted earlier that as of Saturday morning, Trump's oxygen levels were normal and he needed no assistance breathing.

Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that there are "more questions than answers" as Trump's condition "remains unclear".

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Update (1255ET): The "anonymous" source of the note contradicting Dr. Conley's report is suspected to be none other than White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who was caught on video asking that some comments be given "off the record".

LIKELY SOURCE OF THE ANONYMOUS INFO TO THE PRESS POOL ABOUT TRUMP'S CONDITION WAS CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS

Another White House official also reportedly offered some "clarifications" of Dr. Conley's timeline, which suggested that Trump had been diagnosed earlier than he had revealed.

To sum up: It looks like Trump's inner circle are trying to minimize Trump's condition as much as possible, likely to prevent markets from taking another panicked leg lower. Unfortunately, as we've seen time and time again, these attempts at pumping the market might pan out for a little while - but eventually, that debt to the truth is paid.

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Update (1210ET): Just minutes after Trump's doctors insisted the president is doing well and that his fever had disappeared, while refusing to confirm that Trump had been treated with oxygen (though their refusal to deny it clearly suggested that he had), Reuters led a flurry of anonymously sourced reports claiming the president's condition is much worse than his team is letting on.

Reuters said Trump's vital signs are in reality "very concerning" and that the next 48 hours will be "critical".

CNBC's Eamon Javers confirmed that an "odd note" from an anonymous administration official had been shared with the entire White House press pool. The note claimed Trump was more ill than the doctors had let on.

One Twitter wit noted that these kind of tactics are simply "not acceptible" right now.

Then there was this: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows asking to speak to reporters "off the record" before allegedly giving "an entierly different account".

The report added that the president was still not on the path to a full recovery. In other words, the description of his condition was a gross exaggeration by an administration determined to make the president look "strong" at all costs - because that's clearly what Trump wants.

One reporter also noted that Dr. Conley ended the briefing when a reporter asked whether Trump had been treated with steroids.

Still, this isn't exactly saying much. The White House is trying to make it seem like Trump is completely fine, the reality is probably closer to 'the president is suffering from moderate flu-like symptoms', but that's still a far stretch away from requiring prone positioning and intubation.

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Update (1150ET): Trump's doctors have just concluded a lengthy press briefing offering updates about the president's condition. The takeaway: Trump is doing "very well" and doesn't currently have a fever although it appears he did briefly receive oxygen before he traveled to Walter Reed. Whether that was the catalyst for the decision to send him to the hospital remains to be seen.

CNN and the rest of the mainstream media are also going off about another tacit admission: While Dr. Conley didn't offer many specifics about the timeline of Trump's infection, he let slip that we're approximately 72 hours in, which means Trump may have been infected for an entire day and a half before he informed the public about his condition.

Then again, because of Trump's busy travel schedule, it's possible he may have skipped some tests, like how he wasn't tested before arriving at the debate on Tuesday.

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Update (1130ET): As the press briefing from Trump's medical team began, Chris Christie took to twitter to confirm that he is, in fact, COVID-19 positive. That was after he said so on Fox News earlier, then retracted it.

Will Rick Scott now do the same?

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Update (1125ET): Amazingly, Chris Christie is now saying he "misspoke" during an appearance on Fox, and that he too also tested negative, not positive.

It's the same misstake that Sen. Rick Scott made earlier this am.

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Update (1100ET): Former NJ Gov. Chris Christie, who helped Trump with debate prep before his face off against Biden on Tuesday, has become the 25th person in Trump's orbit to test positive.

A reporter for ABC News just revealed that, according to their anonymous sources, the president is feeling "well rested".

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Update (1100ET): While we await the update from Dr. Conley, here's an update on Fla. Sen. Rick Scott.

If you had Scott under the 'positive' column, please move him over to the 'negative' side.

Here's a recap of all the meds Trump has received, according to his doctor and the White House.

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Update (1050ET): As we await an update from President Trump's doctor, Dr. Sean Conley, anxieties are spreading about Trump's condition - that it might be worse than the White House is letting on - after initial denials about Trump's condition turned out to be false.

In addition to Pence, Don Jr. said he has tested negative again Saturday morning.

Biden fired off another tweet urging Americans to wear their masks.

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio called for more transparency from the White House to help combat the spread of "conspiracy theories" and misinformation.

Hopefully, the medication and world-class treatment Trump is receiving will help him beat back the virus quickly.

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Update (1015ET): VP Mike Pence (along with his wife, First Lady Karen Pence) has tested negative again Saturday morning, according to his office.

The VP is ready to take over the president's duties, and according to the most recent statement from the campaign, Pence will take part in Wednesday's VP debate in Salt Lake City.

Meanwhile, the administration's critics insisted that Pence should quarantine and keep testing for at least another few days (though technically the quarantine period is 10 days. Both Pence and AG Bill Barr have tested negative, despite both having attended last Saturday's potential "super spreader" event at the White House.

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Update (1000ET): Trump's doctor, Dr. Sean Conley, will deliver another update on the president's condition at 1100ET, according to Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

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There have been quite a few major developments in the White House COVID-19 outbreak late Friday and into the early hours of Saturday morning. When we last checked in, an anonymously sourced reports from NBC News claimed Trump had developed "shortness of breath" after arriving at Walter Reed.

That news followed reports that Thom Tillis, another member of the group of observers who attended a White House event on Saturday where Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee for the Supreme Court seat left by the deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Photos like this have circulated widely since Tillis became the 6th member of the group to test positive.

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

But as the list above also reflects, three additional major figures in TrumpWorld have tested positive: Former White House advisor Kellyanne Conway, Trump Campaign Manager Bill Stepien, and Sen. Ron Johnson.

Johnson's announcement hit just minutes ago on Saturday morning with a statement from his office.

He is the third GOP senator to test positive, and - like Lee and Tillis - he also attended Saturday's event in the Rose Garden.

Preempted by her teenage daughter Claudia, who made headlines earlier this year by speaking out against both her parents before asking AOC to "adopt" her, Conway announced late Friday evening that she had tested positive, becoming at least the 10th person connected to the White House to contract the virus. Conway left the White House over the summer after her daughter's outbursts created a national scandal. She has apparently become the 7th person to attend that event to also come down with the virus. Three White House reporters have also tested positive.

News of Conway's diagnosis was preempted by her daughter Claudia, who once again took to TikTok to embarrass her mother, claiming in a series of videos that Kellyanne once told her "masks are stupid". Claudia also implied her mother got them all sick "for that stupid Amy Coney Barrett thing".

@claudiamconway

bye i’m done i’ll see you all in two weeks

♬ smack my blank like a drum - andy war
@claudiamconway

##duet with @claudiamconway

♬ original sound - linds
@claudiamconway

 

♬ KC CHIEFS TECH N9NE - TinkGrrl

Meanwhile, George Conway, a longtime critic of Trump and the administration in which his wife serves, tweeted that he was "Livid" about the White House's cavalier attitude toward the virus.

Though the investigation into the origins of the cluster is only just beginning, contact tracers appear to be focusing on Saturday's White House event, which Vox News opined increasingly has the making of a "super spreader" event.

That would at the very least account for why no Democrats have gotten sick in the outbreak, since none of them were invited to the press conference. It would also suggest that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are probably in the clear. They've both already tested positive as of Friday.

But in a sign that the outbreak might already be spreading beyond Saturday's gathering, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, who announced last night that all Trump campaign events involving the president and the first family would be cancelled, or transitioned to virtual format, has also tested positive. Stepien took the reins over the summer, taking over from Brad Parscale following the Tulsa comeback event disaster. One aide told Politico that Stepien was experiencing "mild flu-like symptoms". They also reported that Stepien plans to quarantine until he recovers. Deputy Campaign Manager Justin Clark is expected to oversee the campaign from its Arlington Va. headquarters while Stepien works remotely.

With Stepien and GOP leader Ronna McDaniel sickened, two key players of Trump's political machine are now out of commission.

Though he didn't attend Saturday's event in the Rose Garden, Stepien traveled to and from Cleveland for Tuesday’s presidential debate, and joined Trump and Hope Hicks aboard Air Force One. The campaign manager was also with the president in the White House on Monday.

Stepien's role as campaign manager means participating in dozens of meetings per day. If he was contagious, then many more may need to quarantine, though top Trump cabinet officials including Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and AG Barr have already said they won't quarantine.

All Trump campaign events through next week, when Trump was supposed to swing through the West, have been cancelled as everybody awaits more information on Trump's condition.

Trump's doctor released a statement late Friday claiming Trump was "doing well" and that he did not require any "supplemental oxygen", though he was being treated with Gilead's remdesivir.

Trump was also treated with a battery of anti-virals and other meds earlier in the evening as well.

Incidentally, the president set off a mini firestorm when he tweeted last night that he was doing "WelI" - with a capital "I" instead of an "L" - spawning a torrent of quasi-serious speculation that the president was sending a secret message by saying he was "going Weli".

Some are going off the "A Beautiful Mind" deep-end.

At any rate, WSJ says White House contact tracers are scrambling to test hundreds of people who may have come into contact with those infected. Trump's doctors insist that his hospital stay will only last "a few days" as a precaution.

Trump walked out of the White House Friday evening wearing a mask and gave a thumbs-up to reporters but did not speak before boarding Marine One at 1816ET and heading to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Already, the Washington Post is reporting that Trump's team made the "preemptive" decision so that he could be seen boarding the helicopter while he could still walk - an attempt to present an image of strength to the American people.

Still, White House communications director Alyssa Farah told reporters that there would be no transfer of power with Trump's trip to Walter Reed, and that the presdient would continue to govern remotely. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, the GOP leader and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, respectively, have said they plan to push ahead with Barrett's nomination proceedings to try and get her on the court before election day, as Dems called for the proceedings to be postponed. It's still not clear how many aides who were with Trump this week are quarantining. CDC guidelines call for an individual to quarantine for up to 14 days after coming into contact with an infected individual. Trump traveled during each of the three days leading up to his diagnosis, dragging countless aides and advisors with him, along with party officials and members of Congress.

As we explained yesteday, if Trump's condition worsens, he could transfer power to VP Mike Pence under the proceedings outlined in the 25th Amendment. That has happened only three times in US history: When Ronald Reagan and George W Bush underwent colonoscopies in the White House. When Reagan was shot in 1981, Power was never formally transferred.