The Washington Post’s editorial board on Friday called for the White House to be more transparent about the state of President Trump’s health, demanding “more than spin doctors.”
“All presidents like to project robust health and are loath to admit weakness, even if caused by events beyond their control.” the board wrote in an opinion piece, citing when President Reagan was shot in 1981.
“But when a president’s health is abnormal, the public has a right to know, especially if the problem has any effect on his fitness to perform his duties. In Mr. Trump’s case, the unanswered questions are glaring,” they continued.
Trump was brought to the Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 2, just hours after announcing that both he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The next day, doctors offered a rosy assessment of Trump’s health during a televised briefing. But statements The Associated Press and other outlets later attributed to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and other sources gave a more alarming account of the president’s health.
The White House later acknowledged that Trump had received oxygen as he was being treated for COVID-19 after White House physician Sean Conley initially sidestepped answering on the topic. Conley maintained the team briefing on Trump’s condition wasn’t “necessarily” trying to “hide” anything from the public.
Conley later disclosed during a briefing with reporters that Trump received supplemental oxygen after his diagnosis.
When asked why he had been reluctant to disclose whether Trump had received oxygen, Conley said he was “trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness has had.”
This week, Conley repeatedly ducked more questions about Trump’s health and the timeline of his infection, even though Trump was deemed well enough to leave the hospital and return to the White House.
The Washington Post board noted that Trump had a packed schedule the week before his coronavirus diagnosis, which included introducing his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in a White House Rose Garden event.
The White House has battled a spate of recent COVID-19 diagnoses among staff, leading Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, to describe what he called a “superspreader event” at the White House.
According to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) memo obtained by ABC News this week, 34 White House staffers and “other contacts” have been infected with the coronavirus in recent days.
“Leadership matters, and Mr. Trump has been calamitously unable to provide it. In the pandemic, he offered glib reassurances when the nation needed realism,” The Post’s editorial concluded. “On the question of his personal health, a matter of public interest, we need more than spin doctors. We need real doctors providing real information.”
Trump plans to hold an in-person event at the White House on Saturday, two officials confirmed to The Hill, his first public engagement since being diagnosed with the coronavirus last week.
One White House official said that Trump will deliver remarks from the Blue Room Balcony to guests on the South Lawn, suggesting he will not be in close proximity to any of those in attendance.