Former US President Donald Trump has denied a claim by his last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, that he had tested positive for Covid-19 three days before his first presidential debate against Joe Biden.
On Wednesday, former US President Donald Trump rubbished a claim that he had attended a presidential debate despite having tested positive for Covid-19 within the previous 72 hours. “The story of me having Covid prior to, or during, the first debate is fake news,” the 75-year-old said in a statement shared by his deputy director of communications, Margo Martin.
“In fact, a test revealed that I did not have Covid-19 prior to the debate,” he added. The event in question took place on September 29, 2020. On October 2, Trump announced that he had Covid-19. Later that day he was taken to hospital for treatment.
The former president’s statement comes in response to a bombshell claim made in the soon-to-be-released memoir of Trump’s fourth and final chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
In the memoirs, as seen by The Guardian, Meadows claims that his boss attended a presidential debate despite having tested positive for Covid-19 three days before. The former chief of staff states that Trump returned a negative result from a different test shortly after the positive.
Meadows writes that as Marine One lifted off to travel to a rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania on September 26, White House doctor Sean Conley called saying the president had tested positive for Covid and therefore must not fly. However, it was too late to stop him from leaving.
“I’ve got some bad news. You’ve tested positive for Covid-19,” Meadows told Trump, now on Air Force One. Trump, who had the appearance of someone suffering from a “light cold,” responded with dismay. Meadows, a devout Christian, quoted the then-president as saying something that rhymes with, “Oh spit, you’ve gotta be trucking lidding me.”
The chief of staff explained to the president that the test had been done with an old model kit and said they would repeat the test with “the Binax system,” in the hope that it was a false positive.
After a tense wait, Meadows called back with news of a negative test. He claims Trump took that call as “full permission to press on as if nothing had happened.”
According to the memoirs, Trump knew he had to test negative within 72 hours of the debate starting, but nothing was going to stop him.
While the Cleveland debate with 77-year-old Joe Biden went ahead on September 29, the second debate, scheduled for October 15, was cancelled after Trump’s battle with Covid-19.