President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19. Here’s a look at where he traveled the week before his diagnosis.


The claim: President Donald Trump’s positive COVID-19 test result might be a ‘con’ job

The virus that causes the disease responsible for the deaths of over 200,000 Americans has infected the head of state.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning to confirm a positive COVID-19 test result. 

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” the president wrote.

Reactions to the news on social media ranged from well-wishes to skepticism.

PSA: Get these in your inbox: We’re fact checking the news and sending it to your inbox. Sign up to get that here.

On Oct. 2, author and former attorney Richard Greene posted his speculations on Facebook, suggesting Trump’s positive test result could be a “con.” Greene also authored a 2016 Huffington Post story, “Is Donald Trump Mentally Ill? 3 Professors Of Psychiatry Ask President Obama To Conduct ‘A Full Medical And Neuropsychiatric Evaluation.’” His post soon went viral.

There are three reasons, according to Greene, not to trust the White House’s announcement that Trump tested positive:

  1. Trump was on his way to losing his reelection bid after his performance during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29. Testing positive for COVID-19 redirected attention away from the topic of white supremacists.
  2. By “sailing through” a fake illness, Trump could prove his mettle to supporters and emulate Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
  3. Greene doesn’t trust “anything that comes out of (Trump’s) mouth, or his ‘Twitter thumbs.'” 

Greene did not mention first lady Melania Trump’s positive test result in his post.

“My FB post on it was instantaneous and has received more, and quicker, response … and more positive response … than anything I believe I have ever posted,” Greene told USA TODAY in an email.

Greene attributed his skepticism to “severe cynicism” after untruths told by Trump during his presidency, as well as a “Coronavirus October Surprise.”

Trump has made over 20,000 false or misleading claims during his term, according to a July report by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker. 

“The term ‘October Surprise’ was coined by a 1980s political operative but has ever since been appropriated by the media to describe unexpected political disasters in the twilight hours of the campaign,” the Smithsonian Magazine explained, adding “they’ve become a staple of modern politics.”

In Greene’s view, an “October surprise” is one of “12 Ways Donald Trump Can Win,” a list compiled by Greene in an Aug. 23 Medium blog post. Greene theorized Trump would convince the Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine that “cures” COVID-19 this month, effectively ending “The Coronavirus Crisis.” 

“This could be another version of that ‘October Surprise’ strategy,” Greene said, of Trump’s COVID-19 status.

USA TODAY reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.

More: Trump’s COVID diagnosis followed waning