Donald Trump has turned the White House into a bribe factory

For years now it has been clear that Donald Trump is the most corrupt president in American history. No previous president has continued to operate a vast personal business empire while in office — creating more than 3,000 identifiable conflicts of interest. As I predicted three days before he was inaugurated, he has constantly jammed taxpayer money into his own pockets, corruptly bullied foreign powers into doing him political favors, and turned the Department of Justice into an arm of his campaign.

Now that The New York Times has gotten access to many years of Trump’s tax returns, we have new confirmed details about one particular aspect of his corruption — getting paid for political favors. In essence, he has turned the American executive branch into a giant bribery scheme. Wealthy people with business before the state stuff money into Trump’s pockets through his many properties, and in return he gives them the contracts or policy concessions they want.

Here’s how the bribery machine works: an interested party spends tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at one of Trump’s hotels, or golf resorts, or at Mar-a-Lago. That gets them in front of Trump — as he has spent nearly 400 days as president at those locations — and in his good graces, because he is exceptionally greedy. Then he is easily convinced to help them on some matter of policy.

Just 60 customers with interests at stake before the Trump administration brought his family business nearly $12 million during the first two years of his presidency, The Times found. Almost all saw their interests advanced, in some fashion, by Mr. Trump or his government. [New York Times]

AAR Corp., a government contractor fighting off a rival in court, held two retreats at the Trump National Doral resort, paying the president $120,746. It kept its contract and got new ones. The GEO Group, a private prison contractor, hired Trump’s personal lobbyist, paid at least $32,100 to Mar-a-Lago, and saw its government contracting rise from $500 million per year to $900 million. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University spent $75,000 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington and got a bill passed removing restrictions on land it owns. And those are just three of over 100 companies that spent bigly at Trump’s various properties.

Various right-wing religious groups paid six-figure sums to Trump through his properties, and received “an array of favorable policies from the administration, including appointments of anti-abortion judges and measures exempting religious groups from anti-discrimination laws.” He also offered five members of his clubs ambassadorships.

Ironically, Trump is such an inept businessman that it appears he is not even making enough money off all these bribes to make his businesses profitable. The Times’ overall coverage of his tax returns show that he experienced a steep decline in income after 2014 or so, in part because his newly toxic political reputation killed off most of his brand deals. Massive loans that he personally secured are due for repayment

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Was Donald Trump’s White House Video Filmed in Front of Green Screen?

President Donald Trump released a video message on Twitter on Thursday discussing his health and the treatment he received following his COVID-19 diagnosis.



a man wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump gestures upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus. Trump's recent video led to speculation about a green screen.


© Win McNamee/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus. Trump’s recent video led to speculation about a green screen.

In the video, Trump stands in the White House grounds. There was immediate speculation that the president was not in fact outside but had used a green screen to produce a false background.

The Claim:

Social media users raised the question of a green screen once Trump tweeted his video yesterday. The claim soon gained traction on Twitter and some prominent people began asking the question. Apparent distortions in the video, like the shadows and the background appearing to be on a loop, prompted the comments.

“I think it’s pretty clearly a green screen. The sharpness of the outline and the lighting. Also it’s a very long way to bring a sick president to shoot something when you have the Rose Garden,” wrote MSNBC host Chris Hayes.

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Christopher Orr, film critic for The Atlantic, also said it appeared a green screen had been used: “Why the digital background? It’s a sunny day in DC. This could have been filmed on the actual White House lawn.”

Orr later deleted the tweet and sent another, sharing the opinion of another user that the video background was genuine. However, by then the speculation had taken off.

“This is in front of a green screen,” tweeted veteran Star Trek actor George Takei, who is a prominent social media user and a critic of the president. His tweet now has more than 4,000 retweets.

The Facts:

Hany Farid, a professor

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White House, a coronavirus hot spot, is cold on contact tracing despite Donald Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis



a man holding a sign: Wearing protective suits, masks and gloves, demonstrators call attention to the outbreak of coronavirus in the White House. Photo: AP


© AP
Wearing protective suits, masks and gloves, demonstrators call attention to the outbreak of coronavirus in the White House. Photo: AP

The Trump administration’s resistance to contact tracing since the president tested positive for Covid-19 reflects a calculation that there’s little political upside in highlighting this close to the election the number of people at the pinnacle of US power potentially exposed to the virus by him, say health experts and political analysts.

Masks and contact tracing – used effectively in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and elsewhere – are proven tools in breaking the chain of infection in lieu of a vaccine, medical experts say. But their success can depend on many other factors.

Public health experts have traditionally focused on the profile of the virus and therapies to combat it.

Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.

“But it turns out the most important thing in fighting it seems to be effective political leadership, and in the US we don’t have that,” said Ronald Waldman, a global health professor at George Washington University and former investigator at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “If your primary priority is getting elected, that’s great for the virus.”

Analysts say President Donald Trump and aides appears to have concluded that robust tracing of hundreds, even thousands, placed at risk by his inner circle would only spotlight the virulence of a disease he has repeatedly downplayed, claimed would disappear or decried as a hoax.

It also could highlight his controversial policies and behaviour, and the particular vulnerability of top Republicans central to his legacy and re-election effort, they add, hardly a good look for a president losing support in the polls.

“From the White House point of view, it probably doesn’t make sense to pursue contact tracing,” said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll. “A stricter testing regime risks showing second- and third-order infections. That’s not something you want to expose.”

Who in Trump’s orbit tested positive for coronavirus

But the president’s doctors’ and spin doctors’ apparent disregard for the basics of crisis management – disclose bad news fast and fully – has have been badly undercut by a drumbeat of daily headlines detailing new infections and quarantines hitting the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, presidential press corps and Secret Service.

Among the latest, the US Marine Corps’ No 2 general, Gary Thomas, said on Thursday that he had tested positive after huddling with top military leaders a week earlier.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Recent news is ensuring that public attention remains focused on President Donald Trump's management of the pandemic until the November 3 election. Photo: Abaca Press/TNS


© Provided by South China Morning Post
Recent news is ensuring that public attention remains focused on President Donald Trump’s management of the pandemic until the November 3 election. Photo: Abaca Press/TNS

This drip drip of news not only ensures that public attention remains intently focused on Trump’s management of the disease until the November 3 election. It also hampers the ability of top advisers to carry out policy or craft damage control as

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White House staff are ‘scared’ for lives since Donald Trump’s return

  • White House staff are scared for their lives after Trump returned to the White House with the coronavirus, according to former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Olivia Troye.
  • She told the UK’s Times Radio that staff she has spoken to are “fearful” about catching the virus and “embarrassed” by Trump’s “reckless” behaviour.
  • Trump returned to the White House on Monday having spent the weekend in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, removing his face mask upon arrival.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

White House staff are “fearful” for their lives after President Trump left hospital despite still having the coronavirus, according to former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Olivia Troye.

Growing numbers of White House staff and advisers to the president have already tested positive for the virus in the past week.

However, Troye, an ex-member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force told Times radio in the UK on Tuesday that other White House staff she had spoken to were increasingly “scared” that they would catch the virus after Trump returned to White House not wearing a mask despite still having the illness.

Troye told Times Radio: “You know, for my White House colleagues, I know they’re scared.

“I’ve had conversations with some people that are still there. Their bodies may react differently to COVID.

“COVID is a very unpredictable virus and people, you know, react to it in a very different way. I know that they’re fearful and they’re scared. And they’ve got to be, to a certain extent, embarrassed at what they’re watching, because this is the President and the administration that they’re currently supporting and working in.”

Troye told host John Pienaar that some White House staff privately agreed with her strong, public criticism of how Trump has handled the pandemic, and that staff working for the president have told her it’s “impossible to keep the President on message.”

She said: “I’ve had conversations behind closed doors along the way during my tenure in the White House, and I can tell you that, although I am speaking out in public, many of these people have felt the same way I do, behind closed doors. They know he is reckless.

“I’ve been told by, you know, some of his immediate staff that it is impossible to keep the President on message. I am sure that that’s what was going through their heads last night when they saw it all develop.”

Trump returned to the White House on Monday evening having spent the weekend receiving treatment at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He removed his face mask when he arrived, flouting medical advice designed to protect others from those who are infected with the virus.

He then shared a video on Twitter echoing misleading claims about the virus that he previously made in several Monday-afternoon tweets, telling Americans not to be afraid of the virus that has killed more than 200,000 Americans.

Troye’s remarks came amid reports that White House staff were

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Donald Trump’s reckless return met with a dramatically changed White House



a man wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a building


© Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images


President Donald Trump may be eagerly seeking a return to normal after three nights in the hospital. But the White House he arrived home to Monday with dramatic and reckless flourish has changed drastically since he was airlifted off the South Lawn at the end of last week.

Instead of a bustling hive of pre-election activity, the West Wing has become a breeding ground for viral contagion. At least 11 of the President’s aides or allies have either contracted the virus or — in the case of his daughter Ivanka — are working from home. Entire suites of offices sit vacant as Trump’s aides work to isolate him in the residence and out of the West Wing.

A new aura of mistrust was settling in as several aides raised questions about whether they had been recklessly put in harm’s way over the past week. Accusations of mismanagement — directed mainly at White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — have flown amid one of the gravest presidential crises in a generation. An absence of robust contact tracing efforts caused ripples of concern as testing and mask-wearing norms were being second-guessed.

None of that anxiety was allayed when Trump arrived back to the White House Monday. His first act after striding up the South Portico steps was to rip off his mask and stuff it into his pocket — even though he remains infected with coronavirus and could potentially infect those nearby. He was then seen going back out onto the balcony and re-entering so a camera crew could shoot his entrance.

“We’re going back. We’re going back to work. We’re gonna be out front,” Trump said in a video-taped upon his return. “As your leader I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it.”

Though four hours earlier his doctors conceded he was not yet “out of the woods” in his fight against Covid-19, Trump framed the disease as in the past: “Now I’m better and maybe I’m immune? I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives.”

In the White House residence where he was speaking without a mask, an already slimmed-down staff has been reduced even further after the President and first lady both came down with coronavirus. At least one residence staffer in direct contact with the President tested positive over the weekend, according to a person familiar with the matter.

As Trump returned home, a supply of medical gowns, goggles and respirator masks had been secured for use by his health and security teams — and potentially residence staffers — should they need to come into close proximity to the President.

In the hours after he arrived, a White House employee was seen sanitizing the press briefing room wearing a full white suit with a hood, gloves and protective eyewear.

And a temporary suite of offices had been arranged on the ground floor of the executive mansion, adjacent to the White House

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Is Donald Trump a Super-Spreader?

The Barrett supporters in attendance might have been ignoring social-distancing recommendations in other settings, too—which makes it difficult to pinpoint one risky exposure as the source of this outbreak. In the days after the Barrett party, we know that many of the attendees spent time inside, maskless, in close proximity to others; it is reasonable to think they might have done the same in the days before the event as well. That day at the White House could have sent the virus spreading. Or the virus could already have been rampant.

Public-health experts have good reasons for recommending the measures that Trump’s cohort dismissed. A highly contagious virus like this one spreads quickly in a previously uninfected population, and the only way to stop it is by denying it hosts. For the past six months, these measures have slowed the virus’s spread. But they have not stopped it, and like all other humans, the Republican elites around Trump are vulnerable. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the outbreak is that these are the people who are supposed to be making the rules.

This is what happens when a president is in denial about a global pandemic, and acts accordingly. Trump has repeatedly mocked mask wearing, engaged in wishful thinking, and otherwise minimized the threat of the virus. Many of his supporters, from state leaders to rank-and-file citizens, have followed his example. Now Trump’s recklessness is upending his own world—and the government itself—just weeks before the election. In the hours before and after his COVID-19 diagnosis was revealed on Friday, additional infections and exposures likely stemming from the White House were reported in at least three states and the District of Columbia. Among the infected are Lee and two other senators, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; the chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel; the president’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien; Trump’s adviser Hope Hicks; Trump’s former adviser Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and the president of the University of Notre Dame, John Jenkins.

Again, it’s not clear whether the Barrett event is what spawned all these cases. (Barrett, who tested negative for the virus on Friday, contracted and recovered from COVID-19 over the summer, according to The Washington Post.) It was the earliest event that many of the infected attended together, but from there, it appears that the virus may have moved with the president, first to a campaign rally the next day in Pennsylvania, then to Trump’s golf club in Virginia, and then on to the first general-election debate in Ohio on Tuesday night.

Officials in Cleveland, which hosted the debate, said that they were aware of 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 stemming from “pre-debate planning and set-up.” The majority of cases were among out-of-state residents, officials said, suggesting that the virus had been brought to the debate, rather than contracted there. Members of the Trump entourage, including family members,

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Donald Trump’s alternate reality of Covid-19 crumbles as the White House sends mixed messages about President’s health

Some seven months into a pandemic that has killed more than 209,000 Americans, the nation is now facing a grave governing crisis with its commander in chief hospitalized — his condition hinging on his progress over the coming days — as the White House events of the past week serve as a textbook example of how not to handle a deadly virus.



a man talking on a cell phone: WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Late Saturday night, the public learned new details about why President Donald Trump was airlifted to the hospital Friday, when chief of staff Mark Meadows said during an interview with Fox News that Trump had a fever on Friday morning and his oxygen level had “dropped rapidly.” Meadows added that Trump has made “unbelievable improvements from yesterday morning.”

A memo from Trump’s physician earlier Saturday night said that Trump had “made substantial progress” since his diagnosis but “is not yet out of the woods.”

Speaking from a White House that already has a huge credibility problem with the public, Meadows’ statement capped a 24-hour period that served as a master class in opacity and contradiction that raised major questions about the President’s health — and renewed questions about this administration’s ability to tell the truth.

Trump has been watching and critiquing coverage of his hospitalization from the presidential suite at Walter Reed and has been agitated at what he claims are exaggerated descriptions of his condition, people familiar with the matter said.

Those people told CNN that Trump seemed particularly upset when he saw a quote saying he was displaying “concerning” symptoms on Friday attributed to a person familiar with his health but later assigned by the New York Times and Associated Press to Meadows.

The comment about the President’s vitals hinted that his condition was more worrisome than his doctors let on. But the President’s aversion to appearing weak and sick is now what is driving the effort to project resolve, including a video he tweeted from Walter Reed on Saturday, the photos released by the White House of him working and the multiple accounts of phone calls where he sounded strong by his allies and family members.

For much of this year, Trump has spun an alternate reality about the dangers of coronavirus — disputing science and the efficacy of masks, downplaying the risks to the American people, and making false statements about how 99% of coronavirus cases in America are “totally harmless” or that the virus “affects virtually nobody.”

He encouraged his aides and advisers to live in that dangerous fantasy land, pushing his luck to the limits as late as this past week when he again recklessly gathered thousands of unmasked Americans at his political

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Donald Trump’s alternate reality of Covid-19 crumbles as the White House obfuscates

Some seven months into a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, the nation is now facing a grave governing crisis with its commander in chief hospitalized — his condition hinging on his progress over the coming days — as the White House events of the past week serve as a textbook example of how not to handle a deadly virus.



a man talking on a cell phone: WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Late Saturday night, the public learned new details about why President Donald Trump was airlifted to the hospital Friday, when chief of staff Mark Meadows said during an interview with Fox News that Trump had a fever on Friday morning and his oxygen level had “dropped rapidly.” Meadows added that Trump has made “unbelievable improvements from yesterday morning.”

A memo from Trump’s physician earlier Saturday night said that Trump had “made substantial progress” since his diagnosis but “is not yet out of the woods.”

Speaking from a White House that already has a huge credibility problem with the public, Meadows’ statement capped a 24-hour period that served as a master class in opacity and contradiction that raised major questions about the President’s health — and renewed questions about this administration’s ability to tell the truth.

The President became furious at Meadows earlier in the day, according to reporting Saturday night by the New York Times, when the chief of staff gave a statement to the press pool as an unnamed official stating that the President’s vitals Friday were “very concerning,” hinting that his condition was more worrisome than his doctors let on.

For much of this year, Trump has spun an alternate reality about the dangers of coronavirus — disputing science and the efficacy of masks, downplaying the risks to the American people, and making false statements about how 99% of coronavirus cases in America are “totally harmless” or that the virus “affects virtually nobody.”

He encouraged his aides and advisers to live in that dangerous fantasy land, pushing his luck to the limits as late as this past week when he again recklessly gathered thousands of unmasked Americans at his political rallies and packed the top officials in government into a Rose Garden ceremony for his Supreme Court nominee. All the while, White House officials embraced the fallacy that administering rapid coronavirus tests frequently at the White House could provide a shield of immunity.

The President’s construct crumbled Friday when he was airlifted to Walter Reed after contracting the virus, while many aides, advisers and allies were testing positive for Covid-19 after interacting with him over the past week.

The White House seemed to be continuing to downplay concerns about the severity of the virus Saturday morning when

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The Day Covid-19 Came to Donald Trump’s White House

(Bloomberg) —

Donald Trump’s calendar for October 1 showed a typical day for the president: time for tweeting in the morning, and a trip to his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course in the afternoon to raise money for his cash-strapped re-election campaign.

But well out of public view, a crisis was building. A small number of officials at the White House, including Trump, learned that morning that one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.



a person standing in front of a refrigerator: Former White House Aide Hope Hicks Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee


© Bloomberg
Former White House Aide Hope Hicks Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee

Hope Hicks

Photographer: Anna Moneymaker/Bloomberg

Few people inside or outside the White House were told, and there was never serious thought given to canceling the Bedminster fundraiser, expected to raise $5 million — where the more money donors gave, the closer they got to Trump, according to a person who attended.

The White House says the fundraiser was deemed safe. But there were signs that not all was right.

For one thing, some aides who had been in proximity to Hicks on Wednesday — including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany — were hastily pulled off the manifest for the president’s helicopter and replaced.

Then Trump steered clear of reporters assembled for the helicopter takeoff, eschewing his normal back-and-forth and cutting an unusually wide path as he strode from the Oval Office. He also avoided journalists waiting under the wing of Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews and on the flight to New Jersey and back.

Photo Line

At the event, Trump did the usual photo line customary for VIP donors — those who had given between $50,000 and $250,000. Inside an expansive room, the president stood in front of a presidential flag and an American flag, with tape on the ground representing a “do not cross” line six feet from guests.

One attendee recalled a couple of things: Trump made small talk, and he didn’t wear a mask. He also cut his visit short, the second time in as many days the president seemed to be hurrying through his events.

After returning to the White House, the day took an even darker turn for Trump as he announced he had tested positive for the virus.

Just 26 hours after departing the fundraiser, he landed in Marine One to be admitted to Walter Reed hospital. White House aides, familiar with Trump’s fear of germs and aversion to hospitals, say it’s a signal doctors are genuinely concerned about his condition.

The impact on the president and the White House has been profound. His re-election campaign, already struggling to gain ground against Joe Biden, has scrapped plans for fundraisers and rallies — Trump’s political lifeblood — with little more than four weeks before Election Day.

Trump’s Covid-19 Diagnosis Reshapes Election a Month From Vote

Inside the White House and his campaign, some despondent aides fear the election is lost and the president is sicker than is known. Several officials said they had been provided no more

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Donald Trump Is Taking Remdesivir, Doesn’t Need Supplemental Oxygen, White House Says

Late Friday evening, the White House announced that President Donald Trump did not need supplemental oxygen, and had started taking Remdesivir for his COVID-19.



a man standing in front of a building: President Donald Trump, shown here leaving the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, is beginning Remdesivir therapy.


© Drew Angerer/Getty
President Donald Trump, shown here leaving the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, is beginning Remdesivir therapy.

The White House released a statement from official presidential physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley at 11:34 p.m. on Twitter from the account of press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

“This afternoon, in consultation with specialists from Walter Reed and Johns Hopkins University, I recommended movement of the President up to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for further monitoring. This evening I am happy to report that the President is doing very well. He is not requiring supplemental oxygen, but in consultation with specialists we have elected to initiate Remdesivir therapy. He has completed his first dose and is resting comfortably,” Conley wrote.

World Reacts To Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Testing Positive For Coronavirus

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Trump himself tweeted shortly before, at 11:31 p.m., in his second tweet since his diagnosis.

“Going welI, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!” the president wrote.

Trump’s other tweet Friday evening, posted at 6:31 p.m., was to announce that he was being admitted to Walter Reed in an 18-second video.

“I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support,” Trump said in the video. “I’m going to Walter Reed hospital. I think I’m doing very well but we’re going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well.”

“So thank you I appreciate it, I will never forget it,” he added.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.

According to the White House, Trump has only shown mild symptoms, including fatigue and fever. Donald J. Trump Jr. told Tucker Carlson on Fox News Friday evening that the president had been taken to Walter Reed out of an “abundance of caution.”

In addition to the Remdesivir, Trump is being given an experimental antibody treatment from Regeneron. The treatment is called REGN-COV2, and though it is still in clinical trials, the drug is being is being administered to the president under the “compassionate use” provision of the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines.

Conley said earlier Friday that Trump was also being given zinc, vitamin D, the acid reflux drug famotidine, sleep aid melatonin and aspirin.

In addition to Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis and Utah Senator Mike Lee have also tested positive for the coronavirus. White House aide Hope Hicks was the first to test positive for COVID-19 this week. All attended Saturday’s nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

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