White House chief of staff refuses to ‘talk through a mask’ to reporters

White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsAdministration officials call on Congress to immediately pass bill to spend unused PPP funds Trump claims he is ‘immune’ from coronavirus, defends federal response Senate Republicans rip new White House coronavirus proposal MORE refused to “talk through a mask” to reporters on Monday after initially removing the mask, telling them he was “more than 10 feet away.”

“I’m more than 10 feet away … that way I can take this off,” Meadows told reporters at the Capitol during Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

After a reporter asked him to put it back on, Meadows replaced the mask and walked away, saying, “I’m not going to talk through a mask.”

The chief of staff wore a mask in the hearing room with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, according to NBC News.

Meadows is among the White House employees who continued to work out of the White House and directly interact with President TrumpDonald John TrumpDes Moines mayor says he’s worried about coronavirus spread at Trump rally Judiciary Committee Democrats pen second letter to DOJ over Barrett disclosures: ‘raises more questions that it answers’ Trump asks campaign to schedule daily events for him until election: report MORE since the president was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month. Meadows said he tested negative for the virus as of Monday.

White House doctor Sean Conley said Saturday that the president meets Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “criteria for the safe discontinuation of isolation” and “is no longer considered a transmission risk to others,” but the White House has yet to clarify when the president last tested negative for the virus.

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Two more White House residence staff have tested positive for the coronavirus

WASHINGTON — Two more White House residence staff tested positive for Covid-19 nearly three weeks ago, a White House official confirmed to NBC News on Friday.

That brings the number of residence staff who have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks to four, including three members of the housekeeping staff who work on the third floor of the residence and an assistant to the chief usher.

None of the four came into contact with the first family, the official said, and all of them wore masks.

The news, first reported by The New York Times, comes a week after President Donald Trump was checked into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after testing positive for Covid-19.

Trump returned to the White House on Monday evening and is receiving treatment for the disease amid concerns that he remains contagious and could infect people inside the White House complex.

On Wednesday, the president returned to the Oval Office and released a video declaring himself essentially “cured” of Covid-19. Trump’s doctors, however, have been guarded about the details of his medical condition; White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said earlier this week that they wouldn’t know whether he was out of the woods until after this weekend.

The White House has been hit hard by the virus, with top aides Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller testing positive for the coronavirus as well as press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, numerous members of the press office and White House staff.

More than a dozen people who have been around Trump in recent days have tested positive for Covid-19, many of whom attended the White House ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26.

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White House chief of staff hosted 70-person wedding in Georgia despite COVID-19 restrictions: report

Mark Meadows
Mark Meadows

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the press in Statuary Hall at the Capitol on August 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have publicly downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and failed to acknowledge the value of social distancing measures. One such Republican is White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who — according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution — hosted a “lavish wedding” in Atlanta in May that violated the city and state’s social distancing guidelines.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, has been an aggressive supporter of social distancing in her city and has had some major disagreements with Georgia’s far-right Republican governor, Brian Kemp, over the coronavirus pandemic — which, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 1 million people worldwide and over 212,000 people in the United States. Back in May, under Bottoms’ stay-at-home order, gatherings of more than ten people were prohibited in Atlanta — and Georgia had a statewide social distancing order as well at the time. But according to Atlanta Journal Constitution reporters Patricia Murphy and Greg Bluestein, the wedding that Meadows hosted for his daughter had about seven times as many people.

“The wedding took place May 31 at the Biltmore Ballrooms in Midtown Atlanta,” Murphy and Bluestein report. “The 70 or so guests, including U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, donned tuxedos and ball gowns for the indoor affair, but no masks, as Meadows walked his daughter, Haley, down the aisle through a path of soft white flower petals. With crystal chandeliers, marble floors and a frame of soaring Roman arches, the lush scene could have come from any wedding magazine — were it not taking place at the height of a global pandemic.”

During the summer months, Kemp was criticized by many Democrats, including Bottoms, for being too quick to ease Georgia’s coronavirus restrictions. But according to Murphy and Bluestein, Kemp’s statewide coronavirus restrictions were still in place when Meadows hosted that wedding.

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“Although the state of Georgia had loosened some restrictions by the end of May,” Murphy and Bluestein explain, “Gov. Brian Kemp’s orders at the time expressly banned gatherings of more than 10 people. The statewide order in effect — which Kemp signed on May 12 — restricted gatherings of more than 10 people so long as they’re not ‘transitory or incidental,’ or spread out across different locations.”

The reporters note that “pictures of the wedding reviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution show groups of people clustered closely together in the same room throughout the evening. Under that emergency order, law enforcement could have potentially written citations to the venue for exceeding the gathering size.”

Five months later, Murphy and Bluestein point out, Meadows is facing “intense criticism” for his leadership during the outbreak of COVID-19 infections plaguing the White House — and for a September 26 ceremony for Judge Amy

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White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ignored virus rules at wedding, report says

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a castle on top of a building: The White House is seen in Washington, early Tuesday, the morning after President Trump returned from the hospital where he was treated for COVID-19.

© J. Scott Applewhite
The White House is seen in Washington, early Tuesday, the morning after President Trump returned from the hospital where he was treated for COVID-19.

President Trump made the stunning announcement that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 early Friday, Oct. 2. Since that time, several others in Trump’s circle have tested positive for the virus. Here’s the latest about what we know:

  Thursday, Oct. 8 11:56 a.m.  

Democratic nominee Joe Biden will hold event next week in lieu of debate, campaign says

By Christina Prignano, Globe staff

In a statement issued shortly before noon Thursday, the Biden campaign said it would hold its own campaign event next week in lieu of the debate, and called on the Commission on Presidential Debates to move back the town-hall style debate on Oct. 22. The third debate is currently set to be similar in format to the first debate.

Next week’s debate was scheduled to emphasize questions from voters rather than a moderator.

“The voters should have a chance to ask questions of both candidates, directly. Every Presidential candidate since 1992 has participated in such an event, and it would be a shame if Donald Trump was the first to refuse,” deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in the statement.

  Thursday, Oct. 8 10:07 a.m.  

Trump touts progress in stimulus talks days after spiking them

By Bloomberg News

President Trump said talks on providing additional fiscal stimulus are now “starting to work out,” after he pulled his side out of negotiations earlier this week.

“I think we have a really good chance of doing something,” Trump said Thursday morning in a live interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business. There are now “very productive talks” on coronavirus relief, he said.

Months of hard-fought negotiations on a stimulus package to shore up a slowing economic recovery came to an abrupt end Tuesday, when Trump pulled his team out of the talks. He then called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to send him standalone assistance bills, including for airlines and individual stimulus checks.

  Thursday, Oct. 8 9:52 a.m.  

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ignored virus rules at wedding, report says

By Associated Press

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows hosted a large wedding for his daughter that appeared to violate a Georgia order and city of Atlanta guidelines aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, an Atlanta newspaper reported Thursday.

Photos of the event show that social distancing guidelines were not followed during the May 31 nuptials at the Biltmore Ballrooms Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

About 70 guests, including US Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, wore tuxedos and ball gowns but no masks at the indoor wedding, and photographs show groups of people clustered closely together in the same room throughout the evening, the newspaper said. Georgia had loosened some coronavirus restrictions by the end of May, but Gov. Brian Kemp’s orders at the time

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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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White House releases new coronavirus precautions for residence staff amid President Trump’s diagnosis

The White House on Tuesday released updated safety precautions for staff at the executive residence after President Trump’s announcement last week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marty Makary grades the president's recovery on 'Bill Hemmer Reports'

© FoxNews.com
Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marty Makary grades the president’s recovery on ‘Bill Hemmer Reports’

In a press release, the White House said it has hired independent health consultants who are available to check on staff and their families, while “facilitating ancillary testing as needed.”

The White House also said it has hired a “well-being” consultant for staff members to speak to regarding mental health concerns.”

“The health and safety of the residence staff is of the utmost importance to the First Family,” the White House said.

Staff are wearing personal protective equipment, and are taking all necessary precautions, including updated procedures to protect against cross-contamination.


President Trump announced early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump were in quarantine at the White House after each tested positive for the coronavirus. The couple had undergone testing after learning that senior White House adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive for the virus. Hicks had recently accompanied the president on several trips, including Cleveland for the first debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

After being treated for three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, President Trump returned to the White House Monday night. He tweeted Tuesday morning that he is planning to attend next week’s debate with Biden in Miami.

The president’s diagnosis has fueled speculation over the White House’s policy with keeping its staff safe during the pandemic.

The White House maintains that since March, it has adopted hospital-grade disinfection policies, had medical teams lead coronavirus workshops, significantly reduced staff, and encourage maximum teleworking.


In March, the White House provided sanitization and filtration systems to every employee for use in their homes to protect them and their family members. And since April, all staff members have been required to wear masks at all times, the White House said.

White House releases new coronavirus precautions for residence staff amid President Trump’s diagnosis



The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Michelle Obama expresses empathy for White House staff ‘touched by this virus’ and urges Americans to vote.

The former first lady Michelle Obama, one of the Democratic Party’s most respected figures, delivered what the Biden campaign called her “closing argument” for Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s candidacy on Tuesday, speaking in deeply personal terms to Americans disillusioned by politics about the need to vote.

In a 24-minute video, Mrs. Obama appealed to parents and young people, white working-class Americans and people of color, lashing President Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus — “he continues to gaslight the American people by acting like this pandemic is not a real threat,” she said — and warning that Mr. Trump’s habit of stoking division could be an effective political tool. She urged voting as the best remedy.

“We can expect that this election will be won by the slimmest of margins, just like it was four years ago,” Mrs. Obama said. “A handful of votes per precinct in Pennsylvania, or Arizona, or Wisconsin, or Florida, or anywhere else will make all the difference.”

As she released the video on her own social media platforms, Mrs. Obama acknowledged Mr. Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis. She alluded to his decision to return to the White House while still receiving treatment for the virus, and the choice to take a drive outside of the hospital on Sunday, a move that some medical experts saw as dangerous for the Secret Service agents around the president.

“My heart goes out to everyone touched by this virus, from those at the White House, especially the Secret Service and residence staff whose service ought never be taken for granted, to all those names and stories most of us will unfortunately never know,” she wrote on Twitter.

In the video, Mrs. Obama appeared to speak implicitly to white voters who are struggling economically and are put off by terms like white privilege.

“It is frustrating to hear some folks say that you’ve been the beneficiary of privilege, that the color of your skin gives you a head start,” she said. “But right now, the president and his allies are trying to tap into that frustration and distract from his breathtaking failures by giving folks someone to blame other than them. They’re stoking fears about Black and brown Americans.”

That approach, she said, is “morally wrong, and yes, it is racist. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work.”

“As a Black woman who has — like the overwhelming majority of people of color in this nation — done everything in my power to live a life of dignity, and service, and honesty, the knowledge that any of my fellow Americans is more afraid of me than the chaos we are living through right now, well, that hurts,” Mrs. Obama said.“Imagine how it feels to wake up every day and do your very best to uphold the values that this country claims to holds dear — truth, honor, decency — only to have those efforts met by scorn, not just by your fellow citizens, but by a sitting president.”

Mrs. Obama said on Twitter

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White House staff scared after Trump’s return with coronavirus: Axios

  • White House staff are anxious at the risk of catching COVID-19, especially now a still-infectious President Donald Trump has returned, multiple reports state.
  • One source told Axios: “It’s insane that he would return to the White House and jeopardize his staff’s health when we are still learning of new cases among senior staff.”
  • And a White House staff member told The Atlantic that he is now “just waiting and worried for my friends and their families.”
  • Staffing has been reduced and Trump will not be in the West Wing, CNN reported. But staff members are testing positive, and proper contact tracing hasn’t started.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

White House staff are scared now that President Donald Trump has returned from hospital while still infected with the coronavirus, according to multiple reports.

One White House source told Axios: “It’s insane that he would return to the White House and jeopardize his staff’s health when we are still learning of new cases among senior staff. This place is a cesspool.”

The outlet reported that the source was “reflecting widespread dismay” among officials in Trump’s administration.

The source added: “He was so concerned with preventing embarrassing stories that he exposed thousands of his own staff and supporters to a deadly virus. He has kept us in the dark, and now our spouses and kids have to pay the price. It’s just selfish.”

CNN also reported that multiple aides are worried that they were unnecessarily put at risk over the last week.

white house exterior

The White House is pictured in 2018.


Trump returned to the White House on Monday after spending three nights at the Walter Reed Medical Center.

While there he was given supplemental oxygen, an experimental antibody cocktail, and a steroid that is typically only used for severe cases of the virus. 

When he returned, Trump alarmed medical officials by saying that Americans should not be afraid of the virus.

Trump positioned himself as someone who beat the virus and baselessly claimed that he could be “immune.”

But White House physician Sean Conley said Trump “may not be entirely out of the woods yet” with the virus. And top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that Trump’s health could go “in the wrong direction” in the next few days.

Many people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 find their health worsens around five to eight days into the course of the illness. Trump appeared to struggle to breathe in video footage after his return to the White House.

Those working around Trump include housekeepers, butlers, cooks and security staff.

white house coronavirus.JPG

Members of the White House staff and US Secret Service stood along the West Wing colonnade before President Donald Trump held a coronavirus press briefing in the Rose Garden, May 11, 2020.

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

The number of residence staff working there has been reduced further since Trump’s diagnosis, and Trump’s own workspace has been changed to try and keep him away from staffers, CNN reported. 

Trump is not due

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White House is not tracing contacts of guests and staff at Rose Garden event 10 days ago: New York Times


The White House has decided not to trace the contacts of guests and staff members at a Rose Garden event 10 days ago for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, where at least eight people, including President Donald Trump, may have been infected, the New York Times reported, citing a White House official familiar with the plans. Instead, it is limiting efforts to notifying people who came into close contact with Trump the two days before he tested positive on Thursday evening, the paper reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has had a contact tracing team ready, has been cut out of the process. The White House official said the White House is following CDC guidelines that recommend focusing on contacts within a two-day window from diagnosis. But health experts said it was irresponsible to ignore the earlier event. “You cannot argue against the fact that five or six people who attended that event all got infected, unless you argue that that was all random chance,” Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, an epidemiologist and contact tracing expert told the Times. “There were a lot of people working at that event, and so they need to be contact tracing that whole event.” Health experts have lamented the U.S. failure to conduct the contact tracing, isolation and quarantine procedures that have helped some countries and regions contain the spread of the deadly illness.


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White House staff, Secret Service eye virus with fear, anger

WASHINGTON — The West Wing is a ghost town. Staff members are scared of exposure. And the White House is now a treatment ward for not one — but two — COVID patients, including a president who has long taken the threat of the virus lightly.

President Donald Trump’s decision to return home from a military hospital despite his continued illness is putting new focus on the people around him who could be further exposed if he doesn’t abide by strict isolation protocols.

Throughout the pandemic, White House custodians, ushers, kitchen staff and members of the U.S. Secret Service have continued to show up for work in what is now a coronavirus hot spot, with more than a dozen known cases this week alone.

Trump, still contagious, has made clear that he has little intention of abiding by best containment practices.

As he arrived back at the White House on Monday evening, the president defiantly removed his face mask and stopped to pose on a balcony within feet of a White House photographer. He was seen inside moments later, surrounded by numerous people as he taped a video message urging Americans not to fear a virus that has killed more than 210,000 in the U.S. and 1 million worldwide.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said the White House was “taking every precaution necessary” to protect not just the first family but “every staff member working on the complex” consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and best practices. He added that physical access to the president would be significantly limited and appropriate protective gear worn by those near him.

Nonetheless, the mood within the White House remains somber, with staff fearful they may have been exposed to the virus. As they confront a new reality — a worksite that once seemed like a bubble of safety is anything but — they also have been engaged in finger-pointing over conflicting reports released about the president’s health as well as a lack of information provided internally.

Many have learned about positive tests from media reports and several were exposed, without their knowledge, to people the White House already knew could be contagious.

Indeed, it took until late Sunday night, nearly three full days after Trump’s diagnosis, for the White House to send a staff-wide note in response. Even then, it did not acknowledge the outbreak.

“As a reminder,” read the letter from the White House Management Office, “if you are experiencing any symptoms … please stay home and do not come to work.” Staff who develop symptoms were advised to “go home immediately” and contact their doctors rather than the White House Medical Unit.

Even when Trump was at the hospital, his staff was not immune to risk.

Trump had aides there recording videos and taking photographs of him. On Sunday evening, he took a surprise drive around the hospital to wave to supporters from the window of an SUV. The Secret Service agents in the car with him were

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