Mark Meadows claimed in his new book that Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19 three days before his first debate against Joe Biden.
Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, also wrote that each candidate was required “to test negative for the virus within seventy-two hours of the start time” but that nothing was going to stop Trump from debating.
Trump returned a negative result from a different test shortly after the positive, but this follows a year of speculation about whether Trump had the potentially deadly virus when he faced Biden.
Trump called Meadows’ claims “Fake News” in a statement.
Despite the president looking “a little tired” and suspecting a “slight cold”, he was “content” that Trump traveled that evening to a rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania, wrote Meadows.
But not long after Marine One lifted, the White House doctor called: “Stop the president from leaving. He just tested positive for Covid” Meadows says Sean Conley told him.
It wasn’t possible to stop Trump but when he called from Air Force One, his chief of staff gave him the news: “Mr. President, I’ve got some bad news. You’ve tested positive for Covid-19.”
Trump’s reply, the devout Christian writes, “rhyme[d] with ‘Oh spit, you’ve gotta be trucking lidding me.”
Meadows writes of his surprise that such a “massive germaphobe” could have contracted Covid, given precautions including “buckets of hand sanitizer” and “hardly seeing anyone who hadn’t been rigorously tested.” He also says that the positive test had been done with an old model kit. He told Trump 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 called back with news of the negative test. He could “almost hear the collective ‘Thank God’ that echoed through the cabin”, he writes.
Although his chief of staff “instructed everyone in his immediate circle to treat him as if he was positive” throughout the Pennsylvania trip, Meadows says Trump took that call as “full permission to press on as if nothing had happened.”
“I 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,” Meadows wrote.