WASHINGTON — Former president Donald TrumpInadvertently put at risk lives of Gold Star families, rich donors at a Minnesota fundraiser and then-Democratic nominee Joe BidenA new book by his former chief staff officer reveals that he has resigned as White House staff and crews from Air Force One.
Trump admitted that he had COVID-19 shortly after midnight, Oct. 2. This was less than 24 hours after a rally in Minnesota. Trump looked exhausted and reduced his normally 90-minutes of speechmaking to 45 minutes.
According to Mark Meadows, former chief of staff, this was six days after his initial positive test on Sept. 26. reported by the Guardian.
Trump hosted a family reunion for fallen service personnel, held an event at the White House with business leaders, and visited journalists in Air Force 1’s press section. He also interacted with several flight crews from both Marine and Air Force helicopters.
“The whole episode demonstrates a total disregard for public health and the well-being of others,” said Alyssa Farah Griffin, Trump’s former communications director who left the White House when Trump would not stop lying about the 2020 election results.
Farah Griffin said that she had not heard about the positive result. “It’s hard to believe anyone involved thought it was OK.”
Meadows said that Meadows suggested a second, later-conducted test on Sept. 26 showed a negative result — and that Trump and his staff chose to believe it was correct and the previous one false, rather than vice-versa, even though neither test was considered completely reliable.
Trump, a frequent liar who told many thousands of falsehoods during his presidency, claimed on Wednesday that Meadows’ assertions in his book were “fake news.”
His post-presidential staff did not respond to HuffPost queries, other than to refer to Trump’s statement.
“I had staff who were pregnant, a cancer survivor, and half the West Wing was 65 and over. It’s unfathomable the risk they put so many people at.”
After Trump’s recovery following treatment using synthetic antibodies — at the time, a hugely expensive, experimental intervention — Trump actually tried to suggest that the people he’d interacted with after his positive test had infected him.
“They come within an inch of my face sometimes, they want to hug me and they want to kiss me. They do. And frankly, I’m not telling them to back up. I’m not doing it, but obviously, it’s a dangerous thing, I guess, if you go by the COVID thing,” he said about the families of fallen soldiers he’d met within a day of his positive test and five days prior to his hospitalization.
Fred Wellman, a retired Army helicopter pilot with 22 years of service who worked with the anti-Trump Lincoln Project last year, said Meadows’ timeline proves Trump’s character.
“To find out now that he went to the event knowing he had tested positive for COVID and refused to wear a mask or allow the guests to wear them shows the absolute depth of his moral depravity and lack of any respect for anyone or anything but how he looks,” Wellman said.
“I didn’t think I could think less of Donald Trump but to find out he knowingly and willfully exposed the children and elderly family members of our fallen service members to COVID for pictures just shows how much more deeply immoral and broken he is than we ever imagined,” he added. “He cares for no one but himself.”
Meadows states in the book, that Trump had told him and his staff to be cautious because of the positive result. However, it’s not known how widely that information has spread.
“I never heard anything like this,” said one former senior White House official who frequently interacted with Trump and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of his current position in Republican politics.
One of the supervisors to several staffers was furious. “I had staff who were pregnant, a cancer survivor, and half the West Wing was 65 and over,” the official said, also on condition of anonymity. “It’s unfathomable the risk they put so many people at. Including Chris Christie, who was dangerously ill.”
Christie, a former governor of New Jersey, helped Trump prepare for the debates with Biden. He was diagnosed shortly thereafter with COVID. Recent statements by Christie indicated that Trump is not the only candidate for the GOP, and that they should look at other candidates. However, he said that if Trump wins the nomination in 2024, he would be open to supporting him once again.
Meadows’ account further confirms Trump’s general disdain for coronavirus mitigation measures.
Trump played down the severity and fatality of the disease throughout his final year as an office president. Trump claimed the disease was similar the the common cold and not as serious as the flu. He also said that it wasn’t worse than the flu. The hoax was a fabrication by Democrats, the media, and his campaign to defeat him.
At one Rose Garden news conference, Trump demanded that chairs that had been spaced six feet apart, per health officials’ guidelines, be moved closer together. He opposed lockdowns and mocked people for wearing masks, frequently deriding Biden for wearing “the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.” And during his recovery at Walter Reed hospital, while he was still contagious, he insisted that the Secret Service drive him around in an SUV so he could wave to his fans.
T.J. Ducklo, the Biden campaign’s press secretary, said Trump and his campaign’s odd behavior around that Sept. 29 debate had set off alarm bells at the time. Trump was too late for the COVID test required by debate organizers. His family refused to wear masks at the event and defied debate rules.
“We said often during the campaign that Donald Trump doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He knowingly, purposefully put millions of people in harm’s way by ignoring the COVID warning signs in early 2020. This is a shocking, horrifying, and disgusting reminder of just how dangerous and deceitful he truly is,” Ducklo said.
Trump was the first American president to reject peacefully handing over power to his successor in January after 232 years.
He spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the Nov. 3, 2020, contest that he lost, starting his lies in the predawn hours of Nov. 4 that he had really won in a “landslide” and that his victory was being “stolen” from him. Through a series of false lawsuits, he continued to spread lies about the outcome in several states.
Trump and some of his advisers even discussed using the military by invoking the Insurrection Act or declaring martial law to retain power despite having lost the election, including by seizing voting machines and ordering “re-votes” in states narrowly won by Biden.
But military leaders had earlier made it clear they would not involve themselves in the political process, so after the Electoral College finally voted on Dec. 14, making Biden’s win official, Trump instead turned to a last-ditch scheme to pressure his own vice president into canceling the ballots of millions of voters in several states Biden won and declaring Trump the winner during the pro forma congressional certification of the election results on Jan. 6.
Trump invited his followers to Washington and told them that he wanted Vice President Pence to follow him. “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules,” Trump said.
He incited a mob of support to storm the building and do his bidding. They even chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after the vice president refused to comply with Trump’s demands.
After being attacked during the uprising, a police officer was killed. Four others also died in the weeks and days that followed. One of the rioters, who was climbing through broken windows into an anteroom housing still-evacuating House Members, was killed in the melee.
Though the House impeached Trump for inciting the attack, all but seven Senate Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, chose not to convict him ― thereby letting Trump continue his political career even as he faces several investigations into his post-election actions.
Trump and his aides are currently engaged in a campaign that portrays the shot rioter, Ashlibabbitt as a martyr, and all the other victims of political persecution who were arrested. Trump himself continues to suggest he will run for the 2024 GOP nomination and is using his Save America committee’s money to continue spreading the same falsehoods that culminated in the violence of Jan. 6.