WASHINGTON, D.C. — Saturday’s medical updates on President Trump’s medical condition created a conflicting series of reports as the president battles COVID-19 at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.
Trump’s doctors dodged reporters’ questions earlier Saturday in a medical update when pressed for details.
“Thursday, no oxygen. None at this moment. And yesterday with the team, while we were all here, he was not on oxygen,” Dr. Sean Conley said, when asked if the president ever needed supplemental oxygen.
However, Trump was given supplemental oxygen at the White House Friday morning, before he was transported to the military hospital by helicopter that evening, according to The Associated Press, citing a person familiar with Trump’s condition who spoke on the condition of anonymitiy.
Shortly after, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows painted a much starker picture, telling reporters outside the hospital, “the president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
In an update Saturday night, Dr. Conley expressed cautious optimism but added that the president was “not yet out of the woods.”
This is a developing story. Read below for live updates throughout the day:
11:00 a.m. EDT
The White House has not offered an official update on the president’s health since Saturday, but Trump was up and tweeting from his hospital room at Walter Reed early Sunday morning.
The president shared a video showing a crowd of supporters on the streets outside the medical center, many of whom were not wearing masks. “Thank you so much!” Trump wrote alongside the video.
Trump also offered his own assessment of his status Saturday evening in a video from his hospital suite, saying he was beginning to feel better and hoped to “be back soon.”
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien – who himself contracted COVID-19 over the summer – appeared on CBS’ Face The Nation Sunday, where he told host Margaret Brennan that the president is feeling, “very well.”
“I spoke with the chief of staff this morning and the good news is the president feels very well, and he actually wants to get back up in the White House and get back to work,” O’Brien said, adding, “but I think he’s going to stay at Walter Reed for at least another period of time.”
Trump will join O’Brien, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, for a remote national security briefing later today. The president will participate in the discussion via video chat, with the advisers at the White House, O’Brien said.
As for a possible temporary transfer of power to the vice president? “That’s not something that’s on the table at this point,” O’Brien said Sunday.
On ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller accused former Vice President Joe Biden of using masks as a “prop.”
“A mask is very important, but he could be 20, 30 feet away from the nearest person and still have the mask on. That’s not going to change anything that’s out there,” Miller said. “We can’t all just stay in our basement for the rest of our lives. We have to get out there and live our lives and take this on.”
Later in the show, Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield responded to Miller’s claim: “Tells you a lot of what you need to know about how the Trump campaign has treated this from the outset.”
Miller also said that White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, who helped Trump prepare for the last week’s presidential debate, tested negative for COVID-19.
Five people out of nine known participants who took part in this debate prep have tested positive, including Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, former senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, top aide Hope Hicks and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
According to the AP, Trump’s prep team also included White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Jason Miller, and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Meanwhile, Trump campaign advisor Steve Cortes appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, where the moderator of the first presidential debate took him to task about how the president’s family and team flouted the debate venue’s rules about wearing masks.
“The rules from the Cleveland Clinic could not have been more clear,” Wallace said. “Everyone – everyone in the audience – was to wear a mask … After the First Family came in, they all took off their masks. So did the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Do they think that the health and safety rules for everybody else do not apply to them?”
Cortes replied that they were tested before entering the debate hall, to which Wallace interjected, “Steve, it doesn’t matter.”
Wallace added that, at future debates, people will be escorted out if they don’t wear masks, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
10:15 a.m. EDT
A new poll from ABC News and Ipsos suggests that nearly 3 in 4 Americans believe that President Trump neither took “the appropriate precautions when it came to his personal health,” nor did he take the “risk of contracting the virus seriously enough.”
72% of respondents to both questions answered in the negative on both questions – in both questions, 43% of Republicans (2 in 5) responded negatively regarding Trump’s actions, compared to 94%/95% of Democrats.
The poll was split 50%-50% on whether or not the president would be able to “effectively handle his duties as president if there is a military or national security crisis.”
The changing, and at times contradictory, accounts created a credibility crisis for the White House at a crucial moment, with the president’s health and the nation’s leadership on the line. With Trump expected to remain hospitalized several more days and the presidential election looming, his condition is being anxiously watched by Americans.
In the hospital video, Trump defended his decision to continue campaigning and holding large events during a pandemic.
“I had no choice,” said Trump, who refused to abide by basic public health recommendations, including mask-wearing. “I had to be out front … I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs and totally safe … As a leader, you have to confront problems.”
The president was reportedly angry at Meadows’ public assessment of his health and, in an effort to prove his vitality, Trump ordered up the video and authorized longtime confidant Rudy Giuliani to release a statement on his behalf that he was feeling well, a Republican close to the White House, who was not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations, told the AP.
Trump is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide and killed more than 209,000 people in the U.S.
First lady Melania Trump remained at the White House to recover from her own bout with the virus. She was “really handling it very nicely,” Trump said in the video, noting with a touch of humor that she was “just a little tiny bit younger” – 24 years younger, to be precise.
the White House has been working to trace a flurry of new infections of close Trump aides and allies. Attention is focused in particular on the Sept. 26 White House event introducing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. That day, Trump gathered more than 150 people in the Rose Garden, where they mingled, hugged and shook hands — overwhelmingly without masks. There were also several indoor receptions, where Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett, her family, senators and others spent time in the close quarters of the White House, photographs show.
Among those who attended and have now tested positive: former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, the president of the University of Notre Dame and at least two Republican lawmakers – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).
The president’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, and the head of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, have also tested positive, though they were not at the event.
Another prominent Republican who has tested positive: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), the third Republican senator to test positive for the virus that has killed over 200,000 Americans.
Saturday also saw former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was present at the White House Rose Garden ceremony where President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, announce that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He would later check into a hospital as a “precautionary measure.”
One of the president’s personal assistants, Nick Luna, tested positive after having traveled with Trump several times recently, a White House official said Saturday night. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Here are some other storylines we’re following:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.