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Trump suggests Gold Star families could have infected him

President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE suggested during an interview Thursday that he could have caught the coronavirus from Gold Star families who recently visited the White House.

"I figured there would be a chance that I would catch it. Sometimes I’d be with ... Gold Star families. I met with Gold Star families. I didn’t want to cancel that. But they all came in and they all talked about their son and daughter and father," Trump said in an interview with Maria BartiromoMaria Sara BartiromoMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' Court sets Smartmatic dismissal date on Giuliani, Bartiromo, others The US can solve the border crisis by decoupling from China MORE on Fox Business's "Mornings with Maria."

Trump recounted the families telling stories of their loved ones who died serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, saying he "went through like 35 people."

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"And I can’t back up, Maria, and say give me room, I want room. Give me 12 feet, stay 12 feet away when you talk. They come within an inch of my face sometimes," Trump told the host.

When asked later on Thursday if Trump was blaming the Gold Star families for his COVID-19 diagnosis, White House communications director Alyssa Farah said that was not the case.

"His point was merely that in the timeframe that he was potentially exposed, there were a number of different venues he'd been at and individuals he had interacted with that it could have come from – and by no means are blaming anyone who was present," Farah told reporters at the White House.

"And we did take a lot of precautions for that event. So based on contact tracing, the data we have, we don't think it arose from that event," she added.

Doctors have not disclosed how or when Trump may have contracted the virus. After he announced his diagnosis, a host of White House officials and campaign aides who worked closely and traveled with the president also tested positive, including White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and campaign manager Bill Stepien. 

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Numerous administration officials and allies who attended a Rose Garden nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett have tested positive for the virus, including White House aides Stephen MillerStephen MillerShelby backs ex-aide over Trump-favored candidate in Alabama Senate race Pro-Trump group presses Biden officials for records on critical race theory The Memo: Biden feels the heat from all sides on immigration MORE and Hope HicksHope HicksUPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause Trump selects Hicks, Bondi, Grenell and other allies for positions Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tests positive for coronavirus MORE and former White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayKaren Pence confirms move back to Indiana: 'No place like home' Pence urges 'positive' agenda to counter Biden in first speech since leaving office Kellyanne Conway joins Ohio Senate candidate's campaign MORE. Three GOP senators, Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' Jon Stewart shows late-night conformity cabal how political comedy is done Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting MORE (Wis.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE (Utah) and Tom Tillis (N.C.), have also tested positive.

Pentagon officials, meanwhile, have scrambled to respond to a potential outbreak after Coast Guard Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Ray, who attended a separate Sept. 27 White House event with military leaders and Gold Star families, tested positive. Six of the seven members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have self-isolated in response, including Chairman Mark Milley.

Experts have warned the isolation of Pentagon leaders in particular could leave the U.S. exposed to a potential attack.

“All these kinds of things are just a huge distraction for us where our national security apparatus is consumed with matters domestic and internal,” former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperDomestic security is in disarray: We need a manager, now more than ever Will Biden provide strategic clarity or further ambiguity on Taiwan? 140 national security leaders call for 9/11-style panel to review Jan. 6 attack MORE said at a Washington Post event following the announcement.

The president's diagnosis was announced early Friday. He was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center later that day before being discharged the following Monday.

Updated at 3:39 p.m.