Former US President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 three days before his first debate against Joe Biden, Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has revealed in a new book, excerpts of which were published by The Guardian on Wednesday.
Meadows also wrote in the book that though he knew each candidate was required “to test negative for the virus within 72 hours of the start time … Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there.”
Trump, Meadows says in the book, returned a negative result from a different test shortly after the positive.
Trump announced he had COVID-19 on October 2, 2020. The White House said he announced that result within an hour of receiving it. He went to hospital later that day.
Meadows’ memoir, The Chief’s Chief, will be published next week by All Seasons Press. The Guardian obtained a copy on Tuesday.
Meadows says in the book that Trump’s positive result on September 26 was a shock to a White House which had just staged a triumphant Rose Garden ceremony for the supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Despite the President looking “a little tired” and suspecting a “slight cold”, Meadows says he was “content” that Trump travelled that evening to a rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
As Marine One lifted off, Meadows writes, the White House doctor called and told him, “Stop the President from leaving. He just tested positive for Covid.”
Meadows writes of his surprise that such a “massive germaphobe” could have contracted COVID-19, given precautions including “buckets of hand sanitizer” and “hardly [seeing] anyone who ha[d]n’t been rigorously tested”.
Trump on Wednesday denied the claims made by Meadows in the book.
"The story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News," Trump wrote in a statement. "In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate."