Update (1015ET): VP Mike Pence has tested negative again Saturday morning, according to his office.
The VP is traveling to Mar-a-Lago Saturday, where he will fill in for the president if needed.
BREAKING: Vice President Mike Pence expected today at Mar-a-Lago, preparing to fill in for the president if needed.
— Pamela Miller (@PBMiller63) October 3, 2020
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.
President @realDonaldTrump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, will be giving an update from Walter Reed at 11 am ET.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) October 3, 2020
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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.
We can now identify 6 people who tested positive for COVID-19 after attending Saturday’s disgraceful Amy Coney Barrett coming out party and superspreader event: Trump, Melania Trump, Sen. Thom Tillis, Sen. Mike Lee, Notre Dame President John Jenkins & a White House reporter
— ☇RiotWomenn☇ (@riotwomennn) 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
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.
Senator Ron Johnson has tested positive for COVID, his office says. pic.twitter.com/zD20bCbwts
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) October 3, 2020
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”.
bye i’m done i’ll see you all in two weeks
##duet with @claudiamconway
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.
I’m livid. https://t.co/pbcIvlEE8e
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) October 3, 2020
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.
— Julia Belluz (@juliaoftoronto) October 2, 2020
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.
and who did Stepien come in contact with?? All of them have to isolate. What a fucking disaster
— Jennifer ‘Vote Early’ Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) October 3, 2020
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.
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) October 3, 2020
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”.
Going welI, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2020
Some are going off the “A Beautiful Mind” deep-end.
The “weli” typo propagated nicely to headlines around the web pic.twitter.com/pCa2zVk9bq
— Morten Just (@mortenjust) October 3, 2020
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.
Harrison Smith and Owen react to President Trump’s message to supporters about his Covid-19 diagnosis.
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