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Trump suggests Gold Star families could have infected him

President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee 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 BartiromoBBC apologizes for interview with fake Cory Booker Gaetz suggests DeSantis could run for president in 2024 if Trump is out of the picture Bartiromo, Pirro, Dobbs file to dismiss Smartmatic lawsuits 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 MillerHouse plans for immigration bills add uncertainty on Biden proposal Trump reemerges to legacy being erased by Biden Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee 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 ConwayGeorge Conway calls for thorough Lincoln Project probe: 'The lying has to stop' Claudia Conway advances on 'American Idol,' parents Kellyanne, George appear The swift death of the media darlings known as the Lincoln Project MORE. Three GOP senators, Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate coronavirus bill delayed until Thursday Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Senate GOP will force clerks to read bill to delay COVID-19 relief vote MORE (Wis.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks Biden reignites war powers fight with Syria strike Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers 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 ClapperThe biggest example of media malfeasance in 2020 is... Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community The new marshmallow media in the Biden era 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.