Scrutiny

White House physician Sean Conley draws scrutiny for rosy assessments of Trump’s health

Without sharing details, the White House’s top medical officer said the pressures of the job were weighing on him, according to two people familiar with his remarks.

Conley now finds himself at the epicenter of the most acute crisis to confront a White House physician in decades: President Trump’s hospitalization after contracting a lethal virus whose risks the president has repeatedly minimized.

Conley’s handling of the situation has come under intense criticism after he gave a rosy pronouncement of Trump’s status Saturday without disclosing that the president had been given supplemental oxygen or put on a steroid reserved for severely ill coronavirus patients.

The White House physician finally disclosed those details Sunday, acknowledging that Trump’s oxygen level had dropped at one point. He said that he had not shared the information initially because he did not want to cause alarm.

“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, over his course of illness, has had,” Conley said. “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. . . . The fact of the matter is that he’s doing really well.”

But long before the president contracted a virus especially lethal to older people, some of Conley’s former colleagues said they were disappointed in what they view as his lack of independence from White House politics.

“Every statement he is giving appears to be political, dictated by the White House or the president,” said one person who has worked with him, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering the White House. “These are not the statements a medical doctor

Inside the White House Event Now Under Covid Scrutiny

At least seven people who attended a White House event on Sept. 26 have since tested positive for the coronavirus. Six of them, including the first lady, sat in the first several rows of a nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the White House Rose Garden. The seventh was the president himself.

Few people at the outdoor ceremony wore masks or kept their social distance. But experts say the more risky time spent that day was at a reception inside the White House, where President Trump met with a smaller group of guests.

There, Mr. Trump mingled with Judge Barrett, her family and prominent Republicans in the Oval Office and in the Diplomatic Room. Research has shown that transmission of the virus tends to happen indoors, and gatherings where guests are maskless and in tight quarters can be a recipe for “super spreader” events.

Here are some of the scenes from inside the White House on the day of Judge Barrett’s nomination ceremony.

Attendees who have since tested positive for the coronavirus






Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

Sen. Josh Hawley

Missouri

President Trump and

Melania Trump

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court nominee

Maureen Scalia

Wife of late Justice

Antonin Scalia

Sen. Kelly Loeffler

Georgia

Amy Coney

Barrett

Supreme Court

nominee

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

Sen. Josh Hawley

Missouri

President Trump and

Melania Trump

Maureen Scalia

Wife of late Justice

Antonin Scalia

Sen. Kelly Loeffler

Georgia

Amy Coney

Barrett

Supreme Court

nominee

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

President Trump and

Melania Trump

Sen. Josh Hawley

Missouri

Maureen Scalia

Wife of late Justice

Antonin Scalia

Sen. Kelly Loeffler

Georgia

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina

Amy Coney Barrett

Supreme Court

nominee

Sen. Josh Hawley

Missouri

President Trump

and Melania Trump

Maureen Scalia

Wife of late Justice

Antonin Scalia

Sen. Kelly