President Donald Trump has returned to the White House after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he had been receiving treatment for Covid-19 since Friday. He immediately took off his mask to pose for pictures before walking into the building.
The highly choreographed moment on the Truman Balcony on Monday evening came hours after Trump suggested online that the disease is not that serious a threat. White House physician Sean Conley said in a briefing with reporters after Trump tweeted that he was leaving the hospital that the president had "met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria."
Meanwhile, Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn said that Trump "let his guard down" on Covid-19, telling the Houston Chronicle's editorial board, "I think in his desire to try to demonstrate that we are somehow coming out of this and that the danger is not still with us — I think he got out over his skis."
Pence pulls plug on plexiglass protest
After being at odds with Sen. Harris over the plexiglass barriers, he appeared to have backed off this first debate battle.
A Pence aide says they’ve inquired with the debate commission as to a medical or scientific need for a barrier are waiting for an answer.
But Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley said that “most importantly, the vice president is looking forward to debating" and if such a barrier is a need for the Harris team, they won’t object.
According to a White House official, Pence did not want a plexiglass divider on his side of the stage for the Salt Lake City, Utah, debate on Wednesday. Harris had requested the plastic barrier as a safety measure because of Pence’s potential exposure to President Donald Trump, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
Two plexiglass barriers had been installed on the debate stage: one next to the desk where Pence will sit and one next to Harris’ desk.
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Stephen Miller, top White House adviser, is self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus
Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to President Trump has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating, a senior administration official told NBC News on Tuesday.
Miller, who has been regularly traveling with the president, is the latest aide in the Trump orbit to test positive for COVID-19. At least 18 people who work in the White House have tested positive, including Trump.
The administration official told NBC News that Miller has been working remotely for the last five days and has been self-isolating, testing negative every day through yesterday, per official. Today he tested positive and is in quarantine.
Katie Miller, his wife and Vice President Pence's spokeswoman, tested positive for the virus in May.
Pence, Harris spar over plexiglass barriers at VP debate
Vice President Mike Pence is at odds with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., over the use of plexiglass barriers at Wednesday's vice presidential debate.
According to a White House official, Pence does not want a plexiglass divider on his side of the stage for the Salt Lake City, Utah, debate. Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, had requested the plastic barrier as a safety measure over Pence’s potential exposure to Trump, who tested positive for Covid-19 overnight Thursday. Over a dozen people tied to Trump have since tested positive for the virus since then, though Pence has reported multiple negative test results.
The vice president’s physician released a letter Tuesday stating Pence was not considered a close contact, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as a person who spent 15 minutes or more within six feet of a known positive case. Pence’s doctor concluded he was "encouraged to go about his normal activities and does not need to quarantine."
The Commission on Presidential Debates approved Harris’ request but did not offer any details on where the plexiglass would be placed on the stage.
Another of McEnany's aides tests positive
Assistant White House press secretary Jalen Drummond tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday morning, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.
Drummond becomes the third White House press aide in addition to press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to test positive. Drummond attended the formal Rose Garden ceremony announcing Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court last month.
'Morally reprehensible': Doctors react to Trump's tweet comparing Covid-19 to flu
Physicians responded with alarm to President Trump's assertion on Twitter that Covid-19 is similar to the flu and that the United States is learning to live with it. The social media site later flagged the tweet with a warning.
"Comparing flu to Covid-19 is not only poor optics," Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, said. "It's just morally reprehensible."
D.C.-area House Democrats call White House coronavirus outbreak "out of control"
Democratic House members who represent the Capital Region on Tuesday called on the White House to provide greater transparency into the “out of control” coronavirus outbreak at the White House.
“This is no time for publicity stunts that put people at risk, or for playing down the seriousness of this pandemic,” lawmakers said in a statement. “The American people will never trust the Administration to keep them safe if they cannot protect its own staff.”
The delegation represents the District of Columbia and the parts of Maryland and Virginia that surround it.
They called on Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, to take nine steps — including a commitment to transparency with staff, press and public; contact tracing; face covering and social distancing measures in the White House; and disclosing the total number of positive coronavirus tests among staff.
14 individuals linked to the White House have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gen. Milley, other members of Joint Chiefs quarantine after admiral tests positive for Covid-19
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and at least three other members of the eight-member Joint Chiefs are quarantining after the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Charles Ray, tested positive for Covid-19, according to three defense officials.
The defense officials said Milley was quarantining at home after Ray tested positive. The officials also said Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten, Gen. John Raymond of the Space Force, and Gen. Charles Q. Brown of the Air Force are also self-quarantining.
Commission discussing holding presidential debates outside
The Commission on Presidential Debates is discussing holding future debates outside, a source familiar with the discussions confirmed to NBC News.
The group announced last week that it would put forward new rules after the chaotic first presidential debate between Trump and Biden but has not announced anything so far.
The remaining presidential debates are scheduled to take place in Miami and Nashville, two relatively warm climates.
Trump's 'reckless' New Jersey fundraiser is under state review
In the hours after a top aide tested positive for COVID-19 last week, President Donald Trump ignored federal health guidelines to quarantine and instead attended a fundraiser in New Jersey, where he spoke — without a mask — to more than 200 supporters.
The event, at Trump’s golf course in the tony town of Bedminster, is now being investigated by state officials looking into whether it violated New Jersey’s COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings.
“That trip was completely unacceptable, completely reckless and uncalled for,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said Monday.
Older voters flee Trump, solidifying Biden's advantage in the 2020 race
Democrat Joe Biden has extended his advantage in the presidential race in the wake of the first debate and Republican President Donald Trump’s diagnosis and hospital treatment for the coronavirus, fueled by stark shifts among seniors.
National and swing-state polls in the last week show an exodus among voters 65 and older from Trump to Biden, an alarming sign for the president after NBC News exit polls showed he won that crucial Republican-leaning cohort by 8 points in 2016.
A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Biden leading Trump by 14 points, his largest advantage ever in the survey. Among seniors 65 and older, Biden led by a startling 27 points, marking a 23-point swing in his direction in one month.
Michelle Obama thanks White House residence staff, Secret Service after Trump returns home
Former first lady Michelle Obama paid tribute to Secret Service and White House residence staff in a video released Tuesday, the day after Trump returned to the White House after being hospitalized for three days with Covid-19.
"My heart goes out to everyone touched by this virus, from those at the White House, especially the Secret Service and residence staff whose service ought never be taken for granted, to all those names and stories most of us will unfortunately never know," Obama said.
Obama released the 26-minute video on Twitter in support of Joe Biden. She said she debated releasing the video at all but felt the message was pertinent after "the events of the past few days," which she called "a bracing reminder of the tragedy that has been this administration’s response to this crisis."
Former President Barack Obama tweeted in response that the former first lady's video "is as powerful an argument as I’ve heard about the stakes of this election."
Trump has come under fire after his return to the White House, which critics said could threaten potentially put White House residence staff at risk. At least 14 people tied to the president have now tested positive for Covid-19, including his personal aide, a military valet and several members of the White House press team.