Amy Wilentz: Trump thought he’d never get it
Trump’s indifference to the welfare of others extends to the circle of close advisers who surround him and the wider White House staff. As my colleague Peter Nicholas has reported, there have been practically no serious efforts at coronavirus control at the White House. Once Trump was diagnosed, aides were left confused and in the dark. According to reports from Axios and New York magazine, staffers had no information about the president’s condition and no instructions about what they should do for their own health.
At a press conference yesterday morning, the president’s team said that the White House medical unit and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were conducting contact tracing on those around the president, but The Washington Post reported that “there was little evidence on Saturday that the White House or the campaign had reached out to these potentially exposed people, or even circulated guidance to the rattled staffers within the White House complex.” It now appears that the CDC is not actually involved in tracing. As of today, senior White House staffers were still not wearing masks, which would help prevent them from further spreading the virus if infected.
Trump’s indifference extended far beyond the White House to the wealthy donors keeping his struggling reelection campaign afloat. The Trump adviser Hope Hicks began feeling ill Wednesday evening. By Thursday, Trump was reportedly showing some signs of illness, and was tested. Yet on Wednesday and Thursday, Trump went to fundraisers in Minnesota and New Jersey, respectively. At the Minnesota event, attendees sang karaoke, even though singing is an especially productive way to spread the virus. At the New Jersey event, attendees shelled out as much as $250,000 to hobnob with the president.
These donors, too, learned the news of Trump’s diagnosis from the media, and they were understandably panicked, according to CNBC. By Friday morning, they had received no communication. Later, the campaign sent a generic, unsigned email telling them to consult with a medical provider if they or their loved ones fell ill.
Read: The president is not well
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, told CNN today that Ohio officials had not received any communication or information about contact tracing, even though members of the Trump team (and perhaps the president himself) were likely infected during Tuesday’s debate in Cleveland.
Trump’s behavior also endangers any number of other people, including the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, and any members of his staff or family who attended the debate. (So far, Biden has tested negative, but experts say that he will not be in the clear for several days.)
But these are his political adversaries, and Trump has long since abandoned any pretense of being the president of all Americans. He openly demonizes half of the country, warning of radical leftists, socialists, and interlopers, and positions himself as the president of only those who are on his team. Yet Trumpism has always been built on contempt for his base. During the 2016 campaign, he claimed to hate the media, even while frantically courting its attention. He promised that Mexico would pay for a wall at the southern U.S. border, a patently false claim. As my colleague McKay Coppins recently reported, Trump mocks the Christians who form a crucial part of his backing.