White House did not brief Pence team on swearing him in after Trump COVID-19 diagnosis: book
When former President Trump contracted COVID-19 in October, the White House was reportedly so unprepared that officials had not briefed then-Vice President Mike Pence’s team on a plan to swear in Pence if Trump was unable to carry out the duties of the presidency, according to a new book.
The revelation comes from the book “Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History,” authored by Washington Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta. The book is set to be released on Tuesday.
The Washington Post published an excerpt of the book on Thursday, providing key details on the five days focused on Trump’s diagnosis, and marked by speculation regarding his condition.
“Trump’s brush with severe illness and the prospect of death caught the White House so unprepared that they had not even briefed Vice President Mike Pence’s team on a plan to swear him in if Trump became incapacitated,” the excerpt reads.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump in October tested positive for COVID-19. The then-president revealed his diagnosis in a late-night tweet, writing “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
The president was transported to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center later that day, where he was given a number of treatments to help curb the COVID-19 symptoms, including an antibody cocktail from Regeneron, which the Food and Drug Administration had not authorized at the time.
He was discharged from the hospital on Oct. 5 after three days of treatment.
The book also revealed that White House advisers initially thought Trump’s diagnosis would change his response to the pandemic. That proved to be, however, an incorrect prognosis.
“Trump’s medical advisers hoped his bout with the coronavirus, which was far more serious than acknowledged at the time, would inspire him to take the virus seriously. Perhaps now, they thought, he would encourage Americans to wear masks and put his health and medical officials front and center in the response,” the excerpt reads.
“Instead, Trump emerged from the experience triumphant and ever more defiant. He urged people not to be afraid of the virus or let it dominate their lives, disregarding that he had had access to health care and treatments unavailable to other Americans,” the book continues.