White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany spoke out on Friday to defend President Donald Trump for traveling to New Jersey even after learning that his advisor Hope Hicks, who had been by his side all week, had tested positive for COVID-19.
President Trump and his wife Melania have since tested positive for coronavirus and gone into quarantine in the White House. On Friday morning, McEnany explained that White House operations cleared Trump to travel to his Bedminster golf resort, where he held a fundraiser Thursday afternoon.
“It was deemed safe for the president to go. He socially distanced, it was an outdoor event, and it was deemed safe by White House operations for him to attend that event,” McEnany said, according to the New York Post. “White House operations made the assessment it was safe for the president in consultation with others.”
This came after chief of staff Mark Meadows revealed that Hicks’ diagnosis was revealed right as Trump was about to depart the White House in Marine One around 12:45 p.m.
“I can tell you in terms of Hope Hicks, we discovered that right as the Marine One was taking off yesterday,” Meadows said. “We actually pulled some of the people that had been traveling and (were) in close contact,” he added.”
Trump traveled to Bedminster and took part in his fundraiser before returning to the White House, where he was tested for COVID-19. He and Melania received their positive results late Thursday night, with the news breaking at around 1am.
Though nobody else in the Trump family tested positive for coronavirus, it was confirmed on Friday afternoon that there were another two COVID-19 cases at the White House. It’s been reported that one reporter and a staffer are the people who tested positive.
A memo shared by CNN anchor Brian Stelter stated that the reporter had last been spotted at the White House on Saturday, for the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The journalist then traveled that night on Air Force One to the president’s Pennsylvania rally.
The infected White House employee has been identified as someone from “lower press,” who are the staffers and media handlers who sit just behind the briefing room and work with reporters every day.