Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19 three days before his first debate against Joe Biden, the former president’s fourth and final chief of staff has revealed in a new book.
Related: Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to Testify Before the Capitol Attack Committee
Mark Meadows also writes that although he knew that each candidate had to “be negative for the virus within seventy-two hours of the start time … Nothing was going to stop [Trump] to go out there ”.
Trump, Meadows says in the book, returned a negative result from a different test shortly after the positive.
Nonetheless, the astonishing revelation of an unreported positive test follows a year of speculation over whether Trump, then 74, had the potentially fatal virus when he confronted Biden, 77, in Cleveland. September 29 – and what a danger that could have presented.
Trump announced he had Covid on October 2. The White House said it announced the result within an hour of receiving it. He went to the hospital later that day.
Meadows’ memoir The Chief’s Chief will be published next week by All Seasons Press, a conservative outlet. The Guardian obtained a copy on Tuesday – the day Meadows changed course and said he would cooperate with the House committee investigating the deadly attack on the Capitol on January 6.
Meadows says Trump’s positive September 26 result came as a shock to a White House that had just hosted a triumphal ceremony in the Rose Garden for Supreme Court candidate Amy Coney Barrett – an occasion now widely seen as an event super spread of Covid.
Although the president looks “a little tired” and suspects a “slight cold,” Meadows said he was “glad” that Trump attended a rally in Middletown, Pa. That evening.
But as Marine One took off, Meadows wrote, the White House doctor called.
“Stop the president from leaving,” Meadows said, Sean Conley told him. “He has just been tested positive for Covid. “
It was not possible to stop Trump but when he called from Air Force One, his chief of staff gave him the news.
“Mr. President,” Meadows said, “I have bad news. You have tested positive for Covid-19.
Trump’s response, writes the devout Christian, “rhymes[d] with ‘Oh spit, you must be covering me with trucks’. “
Meadows writes of his surprise that such a “massive germaphobe” could have contracted Covid, given precautions such as “buckets of hand sanitizer” and “barely [seeing] anyone who has[d]has not been rigorously tested ”.
Meadows says the positive test was done with an old model kit. He told Trump that the test would be repeated with “the Binax system, and that we were hoping the first test was a false positive.”
After “a brief but tense wait,” Meadows recalled with news of the negative test. He could “almost hear the collective ‘Thank God’ echoing in the cabin,” he wrote.
Meadows says Trump took the call as “full permission to go ahead as if nothing had happened.” His chief of staff, however, “urged everyone close to him to treat him like he’s positive” throughout the trip to Pennsylvania.
“I didn’t want to take unnecessary risks,” Meadows writes, “but I also didn’t want to alarm the public if there was nothing to worry about – which, according to the much more precise new test, was not. not . “
Meadows writes that members of the public at the rally “would never have known something was wrong.”
The public, however, has not been made aware of the president’s tests.
On Sunday, September 27, the first day between testing and debate, Meadows says Trump did little – except golf in Virginia and host an event for military families where he “spoke about the value of sacrifice. “.
Trump later said he may have been infected during that event, thanks to people “sometimes within an inch of my face they want to hug me and they want to kiss me. And they do. And frankly, I’m not telling them to back down.
In his book, Meadows does not mention that Trump also held a press conference indoors, in the White House briefing room, on the same day.
On Monday, September 28, Trump hosted an event where he spoke with business leaders and looked inside “the cab of a new truck.” He also held a press conference at the Rose Garden “on the work we had all done to fight Covid-19”.
“A little ironically, given his situation,” Meadows wrote, Trump spoke of a new testing strategy “supposed to give faster and more accurate readings of whether someone was positive or not.”
The White House had still not told the public that Trump had tested positive and then negative two days before.
On debate day, Sept. 29, according to Meadows, Trump looked a little better – “the emphasis is on the word slightly”.
“Her face, at least for the most part, had returned to its usual light bronze hue, and the gravel in her voice was gone. But the circles under his eyes had widened. As we walked into the room around five at night, I could tell he was moving slower than usual. He was walking as if he was carrying a little extra weight on his back.
Related: Trump called his aides hours before the Capitol riot to discuss how to stop Biden’s victory
Trump gave a furious and controversial performance, continually harassing Biden to the point that the Democrat pleaded, “Do you want to shut up, man? It’s so non-presidential.
Fox News host Chris Wallace later said Trump was not tested before the debate because he arrived late. Organizers, Wallace said, relied on the honor system.
The White House had not said that Trump had tested positive and negative three days before.
Three days later, on October 2, Trump tweeted that he and his wife, Melania Trump, were positive.
That evening, Meadows helped Trump get to the hospital. While there, Meadows helped orchestrate stunts meant to show the president healthy. Trump has recovered, but it has been reported that his Covid case is much more serious than the White House had ever suggested.