In his upcoming book, former President Donald Trump's ex-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, reveals that Trump tested positive for COVID-19 days before his first debate with then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden. According to Meadows, Trump took another test that delivered a negative result.
In the following days, Trump held a rally, met with Gold Star families, and debated Biden.
By October 2, Trump announced that he and former First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19.
The revelation that Trump tested positive earlier than previously known—and continued to potentially endanger those around him—sparked national outcry, prompting Trump to release a statement.
Predictably, he called Meadows' book "Fake News":
“The story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News. In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate.”
Noticeably absent from Trump's statement was an attack against Meadows, who scrambled to remain in the former President's good graces by appearing on the far-right disinformation outlet, Newsmax.
Like so many Republicans before him, Meadows sacrificed his own credibility to preserve ties with Trump, saying:
"The President's right, it's fake news. If you actually read the book, the context of it, that story outlined a false positive. Literally had a test, had two other tests after that that showed he didn't have COVID during the debate, and yet the way that the media wants to spin it is certainly to be as negative about Donald Trump as they possibly can while giving Joe Biden a pass."
In a rare display of journalistic acumen for Newsmax, anchor Rob Schmitt pressed Meadows on the timing. Trump, according to Meadows, took two negative tests after initially testing positive, but only six days later would be treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed.
Meadows stammered then pivoted:
"Any time that we look at things and we look at tests and we look at what happened, it's certainly, uh, that's what I outline in the book and talk about that Walter Reed visit, but there's a lot of great stories in the book that candidly talk about the miraculous work, the historic work that Donald Trump did."
But Meadows' own book counteracts the position that Trump's staffers were confident he was negative, though he writes Trump took the negative test as “full permission to press on as if nothing had happened.” Meanwhile, Meadows adds that he instructed everyone in his circle to treat Trump as though he were positive.
What's more, there are questions surrounding the supposedly negative tests Trump later took.
Social media users decried Meadows for his frantic backtracking.
They were not convinced.
Soon, Meadows will walk another tightrope testing his loyalty to Trump. He's one of the only Trump administration officials cooperating with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, which Trump has been working to stonewall.