In a bizarre press briefing, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley today defended Donald Trump’s decision to leave Walter Reed despite his continued COVID-19 treatment. Once again, the briefing featured detailed medical statistics when those statistics appeared favorable to Trump—such as heart rate, ambulatory oxygen levels, and other metrics—peppered with absolute refusals, from Conley, to disclose other critical information.
Most notably, Conley refused once again to disclose when Trump last tested negative for the virus, which would allow those exposed to Trump in the days before his hospitalization to know whether he was infectious when he met with them. Conley and the White House are steadfastly refusing to disclose whether Trump was known to be infected on Tuesday when he debated Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, speaking loudly in an enclosed space in front of Biden and the assembled crowd—one of the precise situations known to most easily transmit the airborne virus.
That seems an unforgivable game to play, whether from a doctor or not. But it’s becoming more and more evident that that’s likely what’s going on here.
Conley also refused to discuss Trump’s lung condition, only willing to acknowledge that tests were done. From this we can presume Trump indeed has the pneumonia seen in serious COVID-19 cases, and that there remains the possibility of permanent lung damage. (Conley and the assembled doctors were quick to disclose test results favorable to Trump, so we can easily infer which test results were not favorable.) Conley also refused to discuss Trump’s continued use of the powerful and mood-altering steroid dexamethasone. At one point, Conley weirdly refused to answer a question, citing HIPPA, “for his own safety and health and reasons.” What does that even mean?
While Trump himself claims, while on a mood-altering substance, to feel better then he did “20 years ago,” we know from the hundreds of thousands of worldwide COVID-19 deaths that the disease can be unpredictable, escalating rapidly even after patients believe they are recovering. Conley assured the press that the White House medical team would be watching Trump’s condition closely, and acknowledged that (according to the White House timeline) Trump was not yet through the 7 to 10 day period when symptoms could become the most dire.
It all seems as bizarre and baffling as everything else during Team Trump’s tenure. We can’t tell if they’re lying about intentionally exposing people to a deadly disease. We can’t tell if they’re confident Trump’s own illness is under control, or if Trump’s raging narcissism is overriding doctors’ advice, or if Conley pressured Walter Reed doctors to pump Trump full of multiple experimental treatments in a throw-everything-and-see-what-sticks approach. The condition of the current president of the United States remains a mystery.
We do know Trump might have a sudden relapse, and that the White House will have to be prepared for that possibility. And we know that the White House is absolutely insisting on hiding when Trump was last known not to be infected. Maybe that’s because the White House has been too incompetent to conduct daily testing, but it seems just as likely that Trump knew or suspected he was infected on Tuesday, before the debate, but could not tolerate the “optics” of not showing up.
The WH clearly has a reason to stonewall questions about when Trump's last negative test was. It should be a really straightforward thing to answer. The refusal to provide info suggests Trump either wasn't being tested regularly at all, or had a positive test earlier than known pic.twitter.com/bPwVh0jShQ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 5, 2020