Trump family knowingly exposing others to COVID-19 underscores their 'depraved disregard for rules': journalist

Trump family knowingly exposing others to COVID-19 underscores their 'depraved disregard for rules': journalist

Former President Donald Trump is drawing a great deal of criticism following reports that he made unmasked public appearances and debated now-President Joe Biden in late September 2020 despite having tested positive for COVID-19. But liberal Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent goes a step further this week in his column, arguing that these reports are not only damning of Donald Trump, but also, of family members like his son Donald Trump Jr. and former First Lady Melania Trump.

“The Trump family has long treated rules and laws as nuisances that are only for the little people, and the news that Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 before the first 2020 presidential debate shows that this tendency may be even more depraved and malevolent than you thought,” Sargent writes. “It turns out that this revelation, which comes in a new book by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, also implicates members of Trump’s family, including Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr.”

On October 2, 2020, Trump announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19; the then-president was hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and returned to the White House on October 5. But according to Meadows, Trump first tested positive on September 26, 2020 — and he debated Biden in person on September 29. According to CNN, Trump exposed “potentially hundreds of people” to COVID-19 before that debate.

Trump is denying that timeline, dismissing it as “fake news.” But Sargent notes, “Multiple news organizations, including The Post, have now confirmed from former Trump aides that he tested positive for coronavirus on September 26, 2020, three days before his September 29 debate with Joe Biden. So, he had reason to believe he might have been infected heading into the debate. Trump was informed of the positive test on Air Force One on September 26, en route to a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, the book says.”

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Sargent adds, “But the White House concealed this from the public and from debate organizers, even though he was ‘tired’ and had a ‘slight cold.’ Instead, Trump took a second test that came back negative, and Meadows called Trump to inform him of it.”

This new reporting, according to Sargent, indicates that “everyone around Trump was apparently told he was potentially contagious, and he even appeared potentially symptomatic — even as Trump roared into the debate as if the opposite were true.”

“If this is right,” Sargent laments, “then what happened at the debate is even worse than you thought. That’s because multiple people around Trump, including his wife, Melania Trump, and his kids Donald Jr. and Eric, all sat maskless at the September 29 debate, according to contemporaneous reports, despite the fact that debate attendees were required to wear masks.”

Sargent discussed the Trump family’s late September/early October 2020 activities with Dr. Leana Wen, a George Washington University health professor who freelances for the Post.

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Wen told the columnist, “People who have close contact with individuals who test positive for COVID should be in quarantine. If they had known that they were in close contact with someone who tested positive and were symptomatic, they shouldn’t have gone to the event at all.”

According to Wen, that refusal to wear masks may signal “that they knowingly exposed others and flouted public health guidelines.”

During his 2020 reelection campaign, Trump campaigned on “law and order.” But Sargent stresses that Trump showed a blatant “disregard” for rules in 2020.

Sargent writes, “The operating principle for the Trump family is impunity from rules, laws and accountability at all costs…. In retrospect, now that we know Trump — and likely those around him as well — knew that he’d tested positive for COVID, this stands as yet another example of our total underestimation of this clan’s depraved disregard for rules, norms, and any sense of basic decency and responsibility to those around them. With Trump possibly gearing up to run for president again, perhaps we should avoid making the same mistake this time?”

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