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Trumpdates: The Circus Continues ...

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | October 2, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | October 2, 2020 |


5:45 — So, first Trump releases another video, this time saying that now he actually understands COVID, because he’s gone through it, unless those scientists who have been telling him about it for 9 months, or the 205,000 who have died from it …

And then, he presumably risks the lives of his Secret Service agents to … go on a joy ride around the hospital to wave at his supporters.

This man is a joke.

1:35 p.m. — The President’s “doctor” spoke in the last hour, and Maggie sums it up pretty well here:

This is also true:

The President’s doctor also seemed to think that by telling the truth, he might … embolden the virus?

Anyway, as always, there’s lots of conflicting information. On the one hand, Donald Trump is responding well and may return to the White House tomorrow. On the other hand, he’s taking a steroid that is typically only given to patients who are on oxygen or a ventilator. Make of that what you will.

Sunday, 9:10 a.m. — How’s your weekend going, folks? Looks like Trump is feeling better, thanks probably to the level of care he has access to, which is even better than the access he’s trying to take away from 20 million people. There has been an additional infection this morning: Nick Luna, Trump’s personal assistant, has tested positive.

I don’t know how much we should rehash the events of yesterday, except to say that none of the information coming out of the White House can be trusted. Mark Meadows spent the day trying to clean up what the doctors were saying, all of which points to the fact that Trump was sick sooner than he let on, and that he has basically hoped to take an experimental medication, remain asymptomatic, and never tell anyone. The only reason any of this surfaced is because Jennifer Jacobs found out and reported that Hope Hicks had tested positive, which was the string that unraveled the cover-up.

It’s also clear now that Donald Trump was infected (and was even receiving treatment) when he decided to attend two fundraisers and continue his schedule as normal, which probably led to numerous other infections. Trump and the White House’s line now is basically that Trump intentionally faced down the virus, got infected, and spread it to others in order to show the country that we can continue living normally despite the virus. That will be his message for the rest of the campaign. That will be his message if he were to win reelection, although at this point, his polling has fallen even further.

That said, the lying, the cover-up, the goddamn karma of it all has not moved the needle one bit with Trump’s Republican base, not that any of us should be surprised. These are people, after all, who are gathering — without masks — to rally for Trump’s health. They are a literal death cult at this point.

We also know that everything about Trump being fine on Friday was bullshit because now they are saying that Trump is recovering from really bad symptoms, a high fever, and a concerning drop in his oxygen levels.

Finally, for whatever this is worth, this is amusing:

12:54 — It appears that the Chief of Staff anonymous fed reporters information contradicting the doctors in order to clean up the timeline. There is no reason whatsoever to believe the White House over the doctors, which means that Trump likely did carry on his normal schedule after learning of his COVID diagnosis.

12:36 — Some clarification on the timeline from the White House, if you choose to believe the White House over the doctors.

This is probably more likely:

Meanwhile, I probably trust a “source” more than I trust the WH doctors, at this point:

The anonymous source may have been Mark Meadows.

This is all truly insane. INSANE.

12 p.m. — It’s been confirmed that Chris Christie has, indeed, tested positive.

The President’s doctor has also spoken, although he’s been fairly evasive, saying that the President doesn’t currently have a fever, but he won’t say how high it was when he did have a fever. He also says that he’s not on oxygen, but declines to say if he was on oxygen (Maggie Haberman is reporting that his blood oxygen was low yesterday).

However, the big concern, unless Trump’s doctor misspoke, is this:

What? WHAT?

Saturday, 9:47 a.m. — Good morning. There have been several more reported infections from those in Trump’s orbit, as it does indeed appear that the Rose Garden SCOTUS ceremony was a superspreader event, which makes sense.

Claudia Conway reported yesterday on TikTok that her mother, Kellyanne Conway, had COVID, and Kellyanne Conway confirmed as much last night (Claudia said that her mother — who was at the Rose Garden ceremony — said that masks were dumb). Donald Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien has also tested positive. He will continue to run the campaign (ha!) remotely. Another Republican Senator, Ron Johnson, reported that he was infected this morning, and there are rumors that Chris Christie (Trump’s debate coach) has tested positive. Those are just rumors, for the moment. No word on Bill Barr.

I also saw on Tucker Carlson last night that Republican doormat choad Matt Gaetz was saying that we should just go ahead and open the country completely back up, because if we can’t protect the President from the virus, then it’s hopeless. I’ll once again point you to photo from the Rose Garden above. It’d be pretty easy to … just not do that.

Trump, meanwhile, is now being treated with Remdesivir, in addition to the experimental antibody drug. We haven’t really been given any updates on his health today, except that someone said that they wanted to get him to Walter Reed in Marine One before he couldn’t walk there on his own. He also tweeted from the hospital last night that he’s “doing well. I think.”

I’m trying not to do too much shaming of my own because social media is doing plenty of it this morning, but this Tweet was spot on:

8:46 — Senator Thom Tillis — another Republican on the Judiciary Committee — has now tested positive, as well. That’s 5 cases linked to the SCOTUS nomination in the Rose Garden, while 11 cases have now been linked to the Tuesday night debate in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Pelosi’s test has come back negative, while Soledad O’Brien is on Twitter saying that Claudia Conway is on TikTok saying that her mother, Kellyanne Conway — who hung out with Bill Barr at the SCOTUS nomination — is coughing like crazy around the house.

Meanwhile, Hillary is a stronger person than I.

ESPECIALLY, in light of this …

6:30 — I guess this is supposed to comfort the country?

5:30 — Donald Trump is heading to Walter Reed Hospital “out of an abundance of caution” and is expected to stay there for several days. Make of that what you will, but when he unexpectedly went to the hospital last year, he didn’t unexpectedly go in Marine One, as he is doing today.

Chris Wallace knows what’s up:

Or to put it another way:

4:45 — Biden has given a statement on camera, and he does everything he should do here, which is to say: He makes it about Covid, and not about Trump, and he behaves like a President should.

4:30 — Trump is tired but “in good spirits” with a fever, so says his doctor. He also took an experimental drug treatment. It wasn’t hydroxychloroquine. More about that specific treatment here.

3:50 — And another one from the Rose Garden.

3:05 — As of now, the Senate Judiciary Committee is still moving ahead with its confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, but it’s possible that Sen. Mike Lee may have infected the entire Committee, which would certainly create a few challenges.

2:00: From Axios: “President Trump’s tweet on Friday announcing that he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus quickly become his most retweeted and liked tweet ever.” Sounds right.

1:26 — Two more positive cases, identities unknown.

1:00 — It’s starting to look like the Rose Garden announcement may have been a superspreader event.

And if you are wondering why Amy Coney Barrett didn’t get it an event where she was seen hugging others, this would explain it:

12:25 — Joe Biden and Jill have tested negative. Whew.

12:07 — Fox News’ Chris Wallace — whose wife and four children attended the debate — is pissed that Trump’s family refused to wear masks during the debate, even after they were offered.

“If there is one lesson from today it’s here is the president of the United States who lives in the biggest bubble that exists on the planet and he got it through no fault of his own,” he continued.

“And so the answer is: wear the damn mask.”

11:45 — GOP Senator from Utah. (Seth believes, probably correctly, that even if a dozen GOP Senators fills ill, they will continue the Supreme Court confirmation hearings on October 12th virtually, if that was also your first thought). Lee attended Saturday’s Rose Garden SCOTUS announcement, where there were no masks.

Ronna McDaniel has it and last saw POTUS on Friday. Mike Lee tested positive and last saw POTUS on Saturday. It’s starting to look like the spread happened over the weekend, meaning a large number of people could test positive in the coming days. The White House is apparently the source of an outbreak now. (Here in Maine, an outbreak is defined as three or more cases. This makes at least 5 tied to the White House: Trump, Melania, Hope Hicks, Ronna McDaniel, and Mike Lee).

11:37: Like the President, the First Lady is also experiencing mild symptoms, so far.

It’s worth noting, again, that Trump felt ill yesterday, he knew about Hicks’ diagnosis, and he still decided to go to a fundraiser, where he met with dozens of donors and obviously did not wear a mask. I’m guessing the average age of a Trump donor is probably also a billion.

10:04: It’s going to be one of those days, so just check back on this post for updates throughout:

— Ronna McDaniel, the head of the RNC (and Mitt Romney’s niece) has also tested positive and is experiencing mild symptoms. She was last with the President last Friday, and has since been in Michigan. She appeared on television yesterday and didn’t mention the infection. As with Hope Hicks, the White House tried to keep it secret.

— According to those around him, Trump was low energy yesterday and apparently suffering from mild symptoms. Most symptoms occur within the first five days. We do not yet know when Trump was infected, but given his careless nature, it could have been anytime in the last week.

— Joe Biden — and everyone in the Biden campaign who was at the debate or who has been in contact with anyone at the debate — are all getting tested this morning.

— Mike Pence has tested negative. Some are suggesting, however, that Nancy Pelosi isolate just in case Pence gets infected, as Pelosi is third in the line of succession.

— Chris Christie, who prepped Trump for debate all week, tested negative on Tuesday, is not feeling any symptoms, and is awaiting results on another test.


7:00 a.m.: Good morning. When I went to sleep last night, I had compiled a list of insane news stories to cover this morning, because over the course of about 6 hours last night, things went completely nutty. When I woke up, all of those insane stories had been diminished by one very big story: Donald Trump and the First Lady have tested positive for the Coronavirus.

What does it mean? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

I guess it depends on the severity of his infection, right? The best-case scenario for the President, and the worst-case scenario for the rest of the country is that he does not develop symptoms, and he continues to downplay the virus, and the rest of the country relaxes more than they already have and that second (or third) wave wallops us.

Given his age and his comorbidities, however, the infection could pose a grave danger to the President, who will quarantine for at least 14 days, essentially putting his campaign on hold in its last month. The fact that he has tested positive — at least for now — will make it much more difficult to downplay the disease. The Times doesn’t think this benefits him politically:

Mr. Trump had already been trailing in the polls to Joseph R. Biden Jr., in part because of his mishandling of a virus that has unsettled the day-to-day lives of voters for over six months. He compounded his difficulties by disregarding and at times belittling the basic precautions, such as wearing a mask, that his health advisers were urging Americans to take to protect themselves.

Now, though, his personal indifference toward the virus could threaten his own health, the stability of the country and his already dimming hopes for re-election.

As stock futures fell overnight Friday, strategists in both parties and even senior aides to Mr. Trump said the president would face a harsh judgment from voters for throwing the country into greater uncertainty after one of the most trying years in American history.

The Washington Post characterizes the situation similarly:

The virus could further challenge Trump’s reelection bid, because advisers were hoping to close the gap in upcoming weeks with an aggressive travel schedule and a message that the coronavirus had largely passed.

The Times also adds:

“Even if Mr. Trump remains asymptomatic, he will have to withdraw from the campaign trail and stay isolated in the White House for an unknown period of time. If he becomes sick, it could raise questions about whether he should remain on the ballot at all.”

Axios also thinks it could hurt Trump’s prospects:

Screen Shot 2020-10-02 at 6.49.52 AM.png

I’m usually the more optimistic one around here, but I think that the Times and the Post underestimate the hold Donald Trump has on his party and his voters. They also underestimate the reservoir of empathy some have for even the worst among us in times of crisis. I know that this is not a very apt comparison, particularly given the fictional nature of The West Wing, but when President Bartlett hid his M.S. from voters, it didn’t make me upset or angry. I felt deep sympathy for the man, who — granted — is a fictional character from a different era. It would not have changed my vote.

I also see Boris Johnson over in the UK, who was infected with the virus after downplaying it and had to be hospitalized, and yet, when he recovered, he seemed to have accrued a lot of goodwill from his country, even if it was short-lived. I don’t know how that plays in America, however, where — again — there is only a month until arguably the most important election in this democracy’s history. Given Biden’s comfortable lead, I am not exactly thrilled with the volatility and uncertainty that the President’s diagnosis throws into the race. I prefer that he not have gotten it.

On the other hand, you’ll pardon me if I can’t shine it on for the President like Rachel Maddow has done here:

Look: 207,000 people are dead, in large part because of the very irresponsibility that has led to the President’s own infection. I would not wish coronavirus on my worst enemy, but if my worst enemy taunts the virus — and enables its spread through misinformation — I will reserve my thoughts and prayers for someone more deserving. The President’s health is not my immediate concern here; the future of our Democracy — and how Trump’s health plays into that — is very much is top of mind.

Meanwhile, if you’re curious — and I know you are — Fox News is downplaying the news, reporting that Trump is “fine,” and singling out those on social media who are mocking and/or lecturing the President. So, you know: business as usual at Fox News.

It is worth noting a few things here: The White House tried to keep Hope Hicks’ diagnosis a secret (until it was leaked to Bloomberg); no one around the President wore a mask on Air Force One while returning from the debate, so a number of other senior officials could have it; and even though Kayleigh McEneny was in the vicinity of Hope Hicks, and even though Kayleigh McEnany was aware of Hope Hicks’ diagnosis yesterday afternoon, she still held a press conference without wearing a mask in front of reporters, potentially endangering them knowingly. Trump, of course, has also repeatedly mocked Biden for wearing a mask. Meanwhile, his entire family refused to wear a mask during the debate, despite local regulations that demanded it, and that could have put the family of Joe Biden (and Biden himself) at risk. Trump also continued to meet with people after he knew of Hicks’ diagnosis.

It’s hard to have a ton of sympathy for the President when you’re feeling so angry about his carelessness, and the very real danger that his carelessness has posed to the country, and to himself. The stock markets are tanking right now because Donald Trump couldn’t be bothered to wear a f**king mask.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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