A strongly medicated President Donald Trump bolted from his VIP hospital bubble Monday, staging a bizarre White House comeback that included an irresponsible mask removal and a reckless pronouncement there is nothing to fear from Covid-19, which has already killed 210,000 Americans.
His actions show him, if anything, entrenched deeper in denial over the virus than ever before and more committed to trashing scientific protocols that could slow the pandemic.
“We’re going back. We’re going back to work. We’re gonna be out front. As your leader I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it but I had to do it,” Trump says in a strange campaign video whipped up by aides within an hour of his return to the White House, in which the President framed himself as a warrior who took on the virus and won.
“I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger,” Trump said, despite his doctors earlier saying he is still not fully “out of the woods” in his fight with the virus.
A still infectious Trump ignored advisers who wanted him to stay admitted and instead rode Marine One from Walter Reed Military National Military Medical Center back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Profound questions remain about the state of the President’s health after he tested positive for the disease last week and suffered two dips in oxygen levels. A torrent of misinformation surrounds his condition, including when he actually got sick. That health information is crucial to establishing whether the President went ahead with official duties while potentially infectious with Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the virus continues to rip through the White House, which has become a hotspot amid flagrant violations of social distancing.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said she was positive — “after testing negatively” — in a possible attempt to excuse her failure to wear a mask when briefing reporters Sunday. Two of her staffers have also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Trump choreographed his departure from the hospital, which coincided with network evening news bulletins, emerging from the front door and clenching his fist. His flight home turned into a personal victory lap against a virus that is still in his system, showing how he intends to try to pivot the events of the last few days into a political winner.
Back at the White House in imagery replete with authoritarian overtones, Trump climbed the staircase at the South Portico, which was decorated with American flags, removed his mask, adjusted his suit, lifted his chin and saluted the departing helicopter in a reckless photo op that was one of the most