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.
Newsmax anchor Rob Schmitt: "I believe the president said it's fake news. What's the story here?"
Mark Meadows: "Well, the president's right, it's fake news." pic.twitter.com/p2zkaT5Vw0
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) December 2, 2021
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.
3) From Meadows’ description and the Guardian’s summary, it sounds like Trump was tested with an unnamed rapid test — and after his positive result, that same sample was rerun, somewhat later, through another antigen test.
This is not the way to do accurate coronavirus testing. pic.twitter.com/fkDlJtSOZd
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) December 2, 2021
Social media users decried Meadows for his frantic backtracking.
This man has occupied multiple positions of tremendous influence and power in different realms of the US government and yet was, apparently, too boneheaded to realize what he was confessing, in print, with the help of an editor, with a long lead time before publication https://t.co/eURvpCqppB
— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) December 2, 2021
Calling your new book fake news is quite the sales pitch https://t.co/dG4GTwxnLi
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 2, 2021
He’s calling his own book fake news. I’d say it’s incredible, except it’s not because by now we know just how thoroughly Trumpism melts your brain. https://t.co/HUTIq3KJOs
— Kaili Joy Gray (@KailiJoy) December 2, 2021
Wait, is Meadows calling the story *he wrote in his own book* fake because Trump denied it?? https://t.co/JBheZwIcS2
— Mike Rothschild (@rothschildmd) December 2, 2021
They were not convinced.
It was 100% true, but then Mr Trump called me and he was mad. Now, it's fake news. https://t.co/GoaJnVpoSe
— Bill D (@BillSomhigh36) December 2, 2021
This is an astonishing bit of TV during which even the host seems skeptical of Meadows explanation https://t.co/O99w8IlYtq
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 2, 2021
The “false positive” occurred…days before Trump was a confirmed positive and less than a week before he was in the hospital because of severe COVID symptoms.
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) December 2, 2021
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.