The White House is at war with the virus, with itself, and with reality — though not necessarily in that order.
With President Trump hospitalized for COVID-19 at Walter Reed medical center, officials spent Saturday sowing doubt about his condition instead of offering clarity and reassurance. Doctors and members of the White House staff provided conflicting information about the timeline and progression of the president’s illness, making a bad situation even worse. Asked what it’s been like for insiders trying to get information about the president and the virus spreading through the government, a senior White House official told New York, “That’s easy. We don’t get any.”
On Thursday, officials learned that Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest aides, tested positive for COVID-19 just before Trump boarded Marine One en route to a fundraiser at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. The White House sought to keep the story from getting out, which meant keeping much of its own staff — who, like the president, had been exposed to Hicks — in the dark. More than a dozen people connected to the White House tested positive by Saturday evening.
“Ninety percent of the [White House] complex most certainly learned about it in the news, as has been the case ever since,” the senior official said. “There are reports that COVID is spreading like wildfire through the White House. There are hundreds and hundreds of people who work on-complex, some who have families with high-risk family members. Since this whole thing started, not one email has gone out to tell employees what to do or what’s going on.”
The senior official told New York that not only is there no reliable information flow internally regarding the president’s condition, but there’s