Defense

Trump suggests Gold Star families could have infected him

President Trump 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 Bartiromo 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.”

“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. 

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 Miller and Hope Hicks and former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. Three GOP senators, Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (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 Clapper 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.

Tags Donald Trump Hope Hicks James Clapper Kellyanne Conway Maria Bartiromo Mike Lee Ron Johnson Stephen Miller

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