Trump returns to deflated White House ravaged by coronavirus
Not that there were ever adults in the room. But over a weekend that saw Donald Trump airlifted to a hospital as positive coronavirus tests ripped through the West Wing and GOP circles alike, White House staffers were left with chief of staff Mark Meadows to look to for guidance. It didn't go well, according to multiple reports, even by Trump-era standards. And that's saying something.
According to Axios, Meadows left staffers in the dark for days, failing to communicate with them about protocols, procedures, and whether they should even up come to work. As Meadows went dark, multiple new coronavirus infections piled up, with several White House communication aides and other mid-level staffers testing positive. On Monday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany added her name to the list those infected in the West Wing.
Even as First Lady chief of staff Stephanie Grisham emailed aides Saturday instructing them to work from home and the vice president's chief of staff Marc Short sent a Friday 3:00 a.m. email followed by a Saturday conference call urging staff to work remotely, denizens of the West Wing got zip from Meadows.
Back at Trump campaign headquarters, campaign staffers also received instructions from campaign manager Bill Stepien, who later tested positive, to "wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance, check in via the LiveSafe app on a daily basis and work from home if you're not feeling well," according to the New York Times. Because this is what even remotely responsible human beings do—keep their staff informed and, who knows, maybe even linger a bit on their wellbeing.
But left to their own devices, an uniformed staff under siege and likely reeling, ditched the toxic waste zone and the White House mostly remained a ghost town all weekend, according to the Times.
Though that's not entirely uncommon while a president is away, when Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center Monday evening and re-entered the building at roughly 7:00 p.m. ET, he returned to an operation that's barely a shadow of its former self.
On top of that, most mid- to low-level staffers are pretty ticked off and even scared. So however triumphant Trump imagined his return would be, his experience over the next few weeks will be nothing like it was when he left—not to mention the fact that many of his main confidantes have now either tested positive or are quarantining themselves. Get ready for a blizzard of crazy tweets.
Here's Trump's exit from Walter Reed and a shot of him having trouble breathing back at the White House.
Here's video of Trump leaving Walter Reed and ignoring a question about "do you think you are a superspreader, Mr.… https://t.co/jeQBV8pQK6— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1601937688.0
BREAKING: Pres. Trump arrives back at the White House, and removes his mask, following several nights at Walter Ree… https://t.co/xTghyUn4Vv— ABC News (@ABC News)1601939659.0