By Quint Forgey
Mon, October 5, 2020, 3:00 PM GMT+2
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Monday morning that officials are “still optimistic” President Donald Trump will leave Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and return to the White House later in the day.
“Spoke to the President this morning. He continued to improve over night and is ready to get back to a normal working schedule,” Meadows said in a statement to Fox News.
“He will meet with his doctors and nurses this morning to make further assessments of his progress,” Meadows added. “We are still optimistic that he will be able to return to the White House later today.”
In a subsequent interview on “Fox & Friends,” Meadows cautioned that the “determination has not been made yet” to release Trump from the hospital, and said a final call “won’t be made until later today.”
“The doctors will actually have an evaluation some time late morning. And then the president, in consultation with the doctors, will make a decision on whether to discharge him later today,” Meadows said.
The statements from Meadows comes after the president’s medical team said Sunday that Trump could be discharged from the hospital “as early as tomorrow” and “continue his treatment course” at the White House.
But Sean Conley, the president’s physician, also appeared to confirm Sunday that Trump’s condition is more serious than the White House had so far acknowledged.
Trump, who was hospitalized Friday evening, has received two experimental drugs, as well as one steroid generally reserved for patients with severe or critical coronavirus cases.
The president’s medical team also revealed Sunday that Trump had received oxygen therapy twice for limited periods, and that his blood oxygen levels have dipped below 94 percent — a worrisome threshold for patients indicating a moderate or severe case of Covid-19.
The White House also has refused to reveal more detailed information about Trump’s Covid-19 tests over the course of the past week, and throughout the weekend, the president’s aides and doctors gave contradictory assessments of his health and the timeline of his infection.
For example, after Conley said Saturday morning that the president was “doing very well,” Meadows told reporters that Trump’s “vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning” and warned: “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
On Monday, Meadows disputed reports that Trump had been infuriated by those dire remarks to the press and sought to justify his evaluation of the president’s health.
“I don’t know where anybody is getting the ‘furious’ part … because the president and I have been together for the last 72 hours or more,” Meadows said.
“Listen, I think it’s important that we’re clear about the risks that the president had, and there was some real concern Friday morning — the doctor and I talking Friday morning — there was real concern that helped us make the decision to come to Walter Reed,” he added.
Meadows also defended Trump amid harsh criticism of his decision Sunday afternoon to greet supporters gathered outside Walter Reed, waving at them from inside a black SUV in his presidential motorcade and potentially endangering his Secret Service detail.
An attending physician at Walter Reed denounced the impromptu drive-by as “insanity” and noted on Twitter that the risk of Covid-19 transmission inside Trump’s hermetically sealed vehicle “is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures.”
But Meadows seemingly argued Monday that the agents accompanying the president had already been exposed to possible infection by Trump prior to participating in the motorcade.
“You know, they’re criticizing, ‘Well, he put his Secret Service agent at risk.’ Well, the Secret Service agent — how do we think that we got here?” Meadows said.
“I mean, we came here in Marine One. The Secret Service agent that is with him has been with him. He’s been with him in cars. And yet, we took additional precautions with PPE and others to make sure that they were protected,” he said, adding that “a number of folks are trying to just make a big deal of that.”
Other top aides to the president and allies of his reelection effort also offered rosy appraisals of his health Monday.
Trump campaign senior adviser Steve Cortes told Fox Business in an interview that the president was “doing really, really well,” and that he was “as assertive and upbeat as he has ever been” on a call with campaign leadership Saturday.
“We’re hopeful that he’s going to be released from the hospital today, and … we’re confident that he’s going to be back in full-throttle campaigning very, very soon,” Cortes said.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he had spoken with Trump on Sunday night, and relayed that Trump was eager to leave Walter Reed.
“I mean, I was worried when I woke up this morning that he escaped during the night. I mean, he wants to get out,” Giuliani said.
“I just cautioned him to listen to his doctors. I said, ‘I hope that’s not your decision, it’s the doctors,’” Giuliani added. “He said, ‘No, no. These guys are great. I’ll do what they tell me.’ So I think whatever happens will be the decision of his doctors.”