Trump’s breathless White House return

Good morning. For the remainder of election season, First Thing will be dedicated to covering the biggest stories from the campaign trail – and some smaller but no less relevant ones from off the beaten track. But today’s headline news is unavoidable…

a man wearing a suit and tie: Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters

A still-contagious Donald Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed military hospital on Monday evening, and immediately removed his mask for a photo op on the Truman balcony, where he appeared to be short of breath as he posed for cameras. In a campaign video shot moments later, however, the president insisted he was “better” following three days of hospital treatment for Covid-19 – and perhaps even “immune” to the disease.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Trump removes his mask to pose on the Truman balcony.

© Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters
Trump removes his mask to pose on the Truman balcony.

Trump’s reported desperation to leave hospital and get back to campaigning while still in the throes of the illness is a sign of his willingness to sacrifice anyone – even those closest to him – to spare himself the humiliation of a one-term presidency, writes Julian Borger: “He has produced a toxic workplace to the point of potential lethality.”

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has tested positive for Covid-19, she announced on Monday.

  • Another guest from the Rose Garden event for Amy Coney Barrett has also tested positive. Megachurch Pastor Greg Laurie said in a Facebook post that his symptoms were so far “mild”.

Trump’s team and the wider world might have hoped the president would learn something from his personal experience of the virus, writes Francine Prose:

We’d like to believe that suffering instructs and ennobles; that our grief, fear and pain increases our sympathy for the grief, fear and pain of others. But again, Donald Trump seems to be ineducable,