Adding to the confusion about his status, Trump briefly left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda to wave to supporters from a motorcade, after releasing a video on Twitter thanking people who had gathered outside the facility.
“We’re getting great reports from the doctors,” Trump said in the video before promising a “little surprise” to his supporters. “It’s been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about covid.”
At a news conference earlier Sunday, Trump’s medical team tried to clear up muddled picture it had created the previous day when White House doctor Sean Conley falsely suggested that Trump had not been given supplemental oxygen.
But Conley continued to evade directly answering specific questions about Trump’s health Sunday, even as he revealed that the president had been given dexamethasone, a steroid that is typically reserved for severely ill coronavirus patients needing oxygen. Conley openly admitted to withholding truthful information about Trump’s plummeting blood-oxygen levels Friday, indicating he did so to put a positive spin on the president’s improving condition.
“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness, has had,” Conley said Sunday, explaining why he told reporters Saturday that Trump had not been given oxygen Friday. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.”
Conley also announced that Trump’s oxygen levels had dropped again on Saturday. Asked if Trump had been administered supplemental oxygen as a result, Conley said that he did not know and would have to check with the nursing staff.
The episode continued what has been a days-long torrent of falsehoods, obfuscation, evasion, misdirection and imprecision from those surrounding Trump as he faces the greatest threat to a president’s health in decades. From the chief White House doctor to the president’s chief of staff, the inability to provide clear, direct and consistent information about Trump’s condition has been widespread since the coronavirus began rapidly circulating in the West Wing.
Trump, his doctors and White House aides sought to portray him as improving and largely unencumbered by the virus that has killed more than 209,000 Americans. White House aides emphasized that Trump was continuing to work while at Walter Reed, casting him as a triumphant warrior.
In the Twitter video, Trump said that he has spent part of his time at Walter Reed visiting wounded warriors and first responders without providing details about how those patients were protected against the president infecting them with covid-19. He also indicated that he understood the coronavirus better than medical experts after having contracted it.
“I learned it by really going to school — this is the real school. This isn’t the let’s-read-the-book school,” he said. “And I get it, and I understand it.”
The president donned a mask as he waved to a crowd of fans from inside a