A White House official later added that Trump’s vitals had become concerning Friday morning, hours before he was moved to the hospital. Meanwhile, numerous indications emerged that Trump had received oxygen at the White House during that time period — a step frequently needed for patients with serious coronavirus cases. The revelations swiftly cast a harsh spotlight on Conley’s carefully phrased denials about Trump needing oxygen assistance.
Conley and Trump’s medical team also sent shockwaves through the White House and political landscape with their timeline of Trump’s first positive coronavirus test. During the briefing, Conley said it had been 72 hours since Trump was diagnosed with Covid-19, suggesting Trump knew about his status on Wednesday, well before he revealed it overnight Thursday into Friday. That would mean Trump had gone on with his normal schedule, traveling and working in close proximity to aides and staffers, for well over a full day.
Yet again, though, the White House scrambled minutes after the briefing to clarify the timeline from the medical team. Another White House aide said the doctor had meant to say “day 3” instead of “72 hours,” since Trump had been diagnosed Thursday night. Conley made the clarification official a few hours later, releasing what amounted to the fourth statement of the day from the White House.
Still, questions lingered about Conley’s wording that Trump’s medical team had “repeated testing” on “Thursday afternoon,” perhaps indicating an earlier initial test before firm confirmation that evening.
It was a head-spinning sequence reflective of a White House — and president — not always known for transparency on health matters. As a candidate, Trump infamously had his doctor declare he would be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” And as president, Trump’s former physician triggered eyerolls when he claimed the president could have lived to “200 years old” with a better diet. The White House has also given head-scratching explanations for an unusual trip to Walter Reed last year.
“The world has to know whether the president of the United States is in good health,” said Scott Jennings, who worked for President George W. Bush and is close to the Trump White House. “You cannot have inconsistent reports about the president’s health.”
“I am stunned that the White House put the president’s doctor out there and then issued a contradictory statement,” he added. “You can’t do that. This just invites questions about what’s going on there.”
Since the coronavirus hit the U.S., the White House has similarly been coy at times about staffers testing positive, with some of the more notable infections only being confirmed after leaks to the press.
Trump’s case has been no different. One former senior administration official said only a few people, like the president’s family, actually know the full truth about Trump’s condition. As a result, conflicting rumors about Trump’s health have been flying around the presidential orbit.
In a four-minute video released Saturday evening, Trump contradicted Meadows and other top officials who had framed his health