Trump's last senior COVID-free press aide says he showed 'strength'

Donald Trump’s last senior COVID-free press aide says he was ‘projecting strength’ to allies and enemies by posing mask-free at White House as he vows to hit campaign trail ‘soon’ and debate Joe Biden in person

  • White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah called Donald Trump’s unmasked Truman Balcony appearance a ‘show of ‘strength’
  • Trump removed his mask, and saluted, while photographers captured the moment and staff put out a celebratory video within minutes 
  • She said it is ‘very important to our allies and adversaries who are watching closely to see, is he projecting an image of strength?’ 
  • Some critics mocked the video as Soviet-style 
  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two of her aides have tested positive for COVID-19 

A top communications aide to Donald Trump says the president’s photo-op on the Truman balcony Monday night was a show of ‘strength’ designed in part to send a signal to foreign adversaries.

Alyssa Farah, the White House communications director, made the claim in an interview with Fox News Tuesday while White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two of her press aides contend with their own recent positive tests for the coronavirus.    

‘There was some criticism over him going to the Truman Balcony and, you know, waving and kind of showing the sign of strength,’ said Farah, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence.

White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah called Donald Trump’s unmasked Truman Balcony appearance a ‘show of ‘strength’ and said foreign leaders were watching

‘In times like this and these moments in our country, it’s highly important that the commander-in-chief express confidence to our domestic population, but it’s also very important to our allies and adversaries who are watching closely to see, is he projecting an image of strength?’ she said in an interview she conducted from the White House grounds, after many top aides opted to work from home amid the outbreak.

‘And that is what he did last night. Precautions were taken,’ she said.

Some critics mocked the video as Soviet-style and blasted the president for sending the wrong message on mask-wearing even while he is infected.

George Conway, husband of former White House counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, tweeted out the Lincoln Project’s take on the video, while his wife battles the coronavirus.

It used the same footage as the one released by Trump, but replacing the dramatic music with the Russian National Anthem. 

Farrah discuseed President Trump’s dramatic return so the White House while still infected with COVID-19 

Farrah said Trump’s balcony appearance was a show of ‘strength’

McEnany is one of many people who have been in close contact with the president who tested positive for the coronavirus

Farah also pushed back when her interviewer noted that a photographer got close to Trump even after the president removed his mask. The footage soon showed up in a campaign-style video that Trump tweeted out.

‘His mask was not taken off until he was distanced from others, but I want to make sure that with regard to the photographer, this was a brief interaction. What we know about this virus is its prolonged exposure and contact. Our photographers know to wear masks, we know when we work with the president, wear your mask, keep your distance. I think this is much ado about nothing by the media. I would say this, the world and the American people needed to see their president strong and leading and that’s exactly what he’s doing,’ she said. 

She also responded to charges of a lack of social distancing at the rollout for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, where more than 100 guests were seated closely together. It has emerged as a possible superspreader event, with senators and key advisors now sidelined. 

‘Well I don’t speak for the campaign, but I can say at the White House, we always take precautions at events we host. And I certainly think in light of the president’s positive test and the first lady, we’re going to take even more for the time being to protect essential staff around him,’ she said. ‘But our message has actually been the same from the outset of this. The basic mitigation practices are the most important thing to protecting Americans,’ she said. 

She also responded to an AP story that reported staff are ‘fearful that they may have been exposed to the virus.’

For months, White House staff have eschewed masks, taking a cue from the president. Many work in tight spaces, such as the ‘lower press’ area where aides are crowded into a warren of offices. It is the same space where aides administer coronavirus tests to White House reporters and those traveling with the president. 

‘We feel comfortable working here, those of us who are still here. We are talking precautions in the West Wing. ‘It’s a serious time, we have to, we need to be washing our hands, we need to be wearing masks when we can’t socially distance,’ she said. 

Farah praised Trump’s leadership on the virus, even as a new poll showed nearly two-thirds of Americans think the president bears some responsibility for contracting the coronavirus. 

Rival former Vice President Joe Biden said Monday night at a CNN town hall: ‘Anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying, ‘masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter,’ I think is responsible for what happens to them.’ 

Critics have blasted Trump for questioning the utility of masks, including at Tuesday’s presidential debate when he may already have been infected with COVID-19. 

‘One thing I want to communicate to your viewers is on this date, you are the most likely to survive and get treatment for coronavirus in the U.S. than ever prior because of this president’s leadership and how he has prepared us to deal with it,’ she said. 

‘So I think it’s still very much a focus but he’s going to talk about forward-looking. Where we are with therapeutics, where we’re getting to the vaccine and how we can keep our country reopening and getting people back to normal life safely.’

McEnany appeared herself on Fox Business network, where she revealed her own drug regimen – considerably scaled back from what the president is taking – including an experimental antibody cocktail.

‘All I’m taking is zinc and my vitamins, but no therapeutics. For me, they’re not necessary at this point, just that zinc and my vitamin C and D, she said.

TRUMP’S INNER CIRCLE WHO HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 1

Ronna McDaniel, 47. Chair of the Republican National Convention 

McDaniel is thought to have been the first positive case. It was not made public until after Trump’s diagnosis. 

She was last in contact with Trump on September 25. McDaniel began isolating on September 26 when a member of her family tested positive. She got her results several days later. 

THURSDAY OCTOBER 2

Hope Hicks, 31, Counselor to the President

 

Hicks was the first case reported and was tied to the President’s positive test. 

She flew with him through the week before he was diagnosed and started feeling unwell on her way back from a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday night. 

She quarantined on Air Force One to stay away from him.  

President Donald Trump, 74 

Confirmed positive diagnosis on Friday October 2 at 1am. Was taken to Walter Reed on Friday night, where he remained on Monday afternoon. 

Reported symptoms included trouble breathing, lethargy and a fever. 

He was given an antibody cocktail on Friday and other treatments. 

 

First Lady Melania Trump, 50

Confirmed positive diagnosis on Friday October 2 at 1am. She has been quarantining in the White House. 

She suffered mild symptoms including a cough and a headache but has said repeatedly that she feels ‘good’. 

FRIDAY OCTOBER 2

Fr. John Jenkins, 66, President of the University of Notre Dame 

Jenkins attended the announcement of Amy Coney Barrett as Trump’s Supreme Court Nomination without a mask on Saturday September 25. 

The event in the White House Rose Garden is now widely believed to be the source of many of the infections.

He is not thought to have severe symptoms.  

Mike Lee, 49, Republican Utah Senator 

Lee also attended the event in the Rose Garden and he was seen hugging other attendees without a mask on. 

He is not thought to have severe symptoms either.  

Bill Stepien, 42, Trump’s Campaign Manager

Stepien tested positive after Trump. 

He had mild, flu-like symptoms and planned to continue working from home. 

He attended Tuesday night’s rally in Cleveland, having flown with Trump and Hicks on Air Force One to and from the event. 

Michael Shear, 52, New York Times White House correspondent, and two other unnamed journalists 

The journalists’ positive diagnoses were revealed on Friday. 

Two attended the SCOTUS event, where they said they were forced into pen like enclosures at the back, with little space between them. 

Hardly any of the guests at the event wore masks, they said. 

SATURDAY  OCTOBER 3

Thom Tillis, 60, Republican North Carolina Senator 

Tillis announced that he’d tested positive after routinely testing negative. 

He said he was asymptomatic. 

‘Over the last few months, I’ve been routinely tested for COVID-19, including testing negative last Saturday, but tonight my rapid antigen test came back positive,’ he said in a statement.

Chris Christie, 58, Former New Jersey Governor 

Christie has been at the White House frequently in recent weeks and was at the SCOTUS event. 

He tested positive on Saturday and checked himself into hospital, he said, out of an abundance of caution because of his health conditions including asthma.  

Nicholas Luna, 29, Chief of Oval Office Operations and ‘body man’

Luna’s job requirements involve following Trump around at all times. 

He tested positive on Saturday night, more than 24 hours after President Trump did  

Ron Johnson, 65, Republican Wisconsin Senator 

Johnson still attended an Oktoberfest event on Friday night while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, despite knowing he had come into contact with others who had tested positive. 

He defended it, saying he was asymptomatic 

SUNDAY OCTOBER 4

Kellyanne Conway, 53, Former White House Counselor to the President 

Conway and her daughter have both tested positive. 

The daughter, Claudia, revealed on Tik Tok that her mom had been coughing all over their home 

 

MONDAY OCTOBER 5

Kayleigh McEnany, 32, White House Press Secretary 

McEnany had tested negative last week after Trump’s diagnosis and she continued giving press conferences without a mask on until Sunday

Chad Gilmartin. Assistant Press Secretary

Karoline Leavitt, Assistant Press Secretary 

Two unnamed staff members who work in the White House residence. 

They were told to use ‘discretion’ when discussing it, according to The New York Times 

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