Former President Donald Trump, in what appeared an attempt to deflect from revelations about his prior COVID-19 diagnosis, accused President Joe Biden of "coughing on people all over the place."
Trump, in response to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' account that Trump hid his positive COVID-19 test result mere days before joining then-candidate Biden on stage for a September 2020 debate, accused the media of spreading "fake news."
"The Fake News continues to push the false narrative that I had Covid prior to the first debate. Biden goes around coughing on people all over the place, and yet the Corrupt News doesn't even cover it."
Trump's comments were in reference to an appearance Biden made at the White House last week during which he coughed at several points while reporters, who were wearing masks at the time, were to the side of the podium.
The White House confirmed that Biden tested negative for COVID-19 three times after displaying cold-like symptoms but Trump's words seemed to suggest that Biden was actively spreading COVID-19.
According to Meadows, Trump first tested positive for the virus on September 26, 2020, three days before his first debate with Biden. Trump's choice to accuse media outlets is not dissimilar to his reaction last autumn.
After Trump had recovered from his own bout with COVID-19, an experience that landed him in the COVID-19 ward of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he insisted that news coverage of the pandemic was designed to hurt his re-election chances and should be considered an “election violation."
In making these claims, Trump showed no sign that he would change his messaging strategy even as more White House staffers, and even former Vice President Mike Pence, tested positive for the virus.
A Rose Garden event for Amy Coney Barrett, then nominated by Trump to serve on the Supreme Court, has been credited as the source of the COVID-19 outbreak at the White House.
Trump's remarks opened him up to immediate criticism and many accused him of hypocrisy.
Missing from many of the discussions surrounding the former President's health status is the fact that at the time of his diagnosis and the White House's COVID-19 outbreak, the United States faced an unprecedented national security crisis that could have hampered the line of succession.
At the time, congressional Democrats raised doubts about Trump's capacity to lead. In fact, the crisis motivated leaders in the House of Representatives to introduce legislation to establish a 25th Amendment commission to assess Trump’s mental and physical capacity to hold office.
That Trump, whose age and physical health place him at high risk of dying from COVID-19, could very well have died last year appeared lost on many of his supporters, the result of a reality skirted by a White House that continued to so flagrantly obfuscate the nature of his condition.