The infections seem to be rattling the President, who’s eager to see the country reopen. In conversations this weekend, Trump has expressed concern that aides contracting coronavirus would undercut his message that the outbreak is waning and states should begin reopening, according to a person who spoke to him.
He’s expressed frustration at the positive tests in the West Wing and has asked why his valets weren’t ordered to wear masks before this week, according to the person. He’s told people he doesn’t want to be near anyone who hasn’t been tested and has bristled when coming into contact with some people at the White House, according to the person who spoke to the President.
“We’ve all been exposing ourselves to risks, under the best guidance we could possibly have to keep us safe, but we’re willing to take that chance because we love our country,” Hassett said. “There are things that have to happen in the West Wing even if the building is a little old and under-ventilated.”
Hassett said he has been tested frequently, as recently as Saturday, and when asked why so many White House officials, including Trump, are so often seen not wearing masks, he said he had one in his pocket.
“The mask issue is a significant one, but recall that to get in with the President, that you have to test negative,” he said. “There’s — according to what the doctors tell me — not a lot of evidence that you can pass the virus, that you have enough viral load to pass it if you test negative. I think it’s sound medical judgment that is urging people to be that way. And it’s not my judgment but that’s what I’ve been told.”
When he agreed to leave the private sector and rejoin the administration in March, Hassett said he was cognizant of the risks, but returned to build a giant data operation to help track ventilators and other medical supplies to fight the pandemic.
“I knew when I was going back in that I would be taking risks, that I would be safer sitting at home in my house than going into a West Wing — that with even all the testing in the world and the best medical team on Earth — it’s a relatively cramped place,” he said.
“We are very focused on rebuilding this economy and getting it back to where it was,” Mnuchin said. “This is no fault of American businesses. This is not the fault of American workers. This is the result of the virus, and that’s where the President and I — we are determined to put together the largest economic program ever to help American workers get through this,” Mnuchin told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
Obama slams Trump’s coronavirus response as ‘chaotic disaster’
While Trump and his allies are counting on a strong economic recovery to boost the President’s reelection chances in the fall, Democrats are hammering the administration’s response to the virus as feckless, insufficient and far too slow to meet the threat.
In response to the reports, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that Trump’s “coronavirus response has been unprecedented and saved American lives.”
“There has been a bipartisan recognition of President Trump’s leadership, and the American people have taken notice,” McEnany said.
After the new figures came out Friday showing 20.5 million jobs lost in April, Biden issued a sharp critique of Trump’s economy — which he argues was tilted toward the rich and powerful before the pandemic — arguing that income disparity has only widened during the crisis as job losses disproportionately affect lower-income Americans. Pointing to those disparities, Biden has also tried to highlight the Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act at a time when he says Americans need health care most.
“Covid is the match that lit the fire. But Donald Trump has spent the last three years stoking and kindling and undermining the core pillars of our economic strength,” Biden said during a virtual fundraiser with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Obama adviser David Plouffe Friday evening.
“Yes, many small businesses closed because of Covid, but the reason why many will not open is because, for the last three years Donald Trump has put the very well off and corporate America first, and has put forward plans with ‘no strings, no oversight, no accountability,'” Biden said.
Battle over ballots
Carr said Trump Victory, the joint field effort between Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, now has 800 paid staffers in 23 states. They are training some 2 million volunteers through the “Trump Victory Leadership Initiative” that teaches volunteers to become organizers in their communities.
“Over the last six weeks, our team has made over 20 million voter contacts and engaged over 1 million volunteers across the country. Additionally, over 31,000 Americans have used tools like vote.gop to register to vote or receive an absentee ballot,” Carr said in his column. “The transition to a virtual campaign has been seamless.”
Newsom said in-person voting will still occur and asked state officials to put together a plan detailing how California can do that safely.
On Sunday, Trump reiterated his support for Republican candidate Mike Garcia, saying the former Navy fighter pilot had his “complete and total endorsement.”
The President also sought to stoke concerns about voter fraud by suggesting that a decision by Los Angeles County election officials to add an additional in-person voting center in the district — in the diverse city of Lancaster — would somehow “rig” the election to favor the Democrats.
“So in California, the Democrats, who fought like crazy to get all mail in only ballots, and succeeded, have just opened a voting booth in the most Democrat area in the State. They are trying to steal another election. It’s all rigged out there. These votes must not count. SCAM!” Trump tweeted Saturday.
A number of aspects of Trump’s tweet were factually inaccurate. Far from being safely Democratic, California’s 25th District is one of the most contested House districts in the country and there has been no credible evidence of voter fraud.
On March 20, Newsom ordered state election officials to send a vote-by-mail ballot to every voter for the May 12 special election, a step meant to encourage participation while voting was also permitted at a number of vote centers that opened for in-person voting throughout Los Angeles County.
On Friday, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan announced that an additional in-person voting site would be added in Lancaster to remedy the fact that those voters had no walk-in sites in close proximity. The request to add the vote center, Logan said in a news release, came from Lancaster’s Republican Mayor R. Rex Parris.
Trump sought to sow confusion in a series of tweets, seeming to blame Newsom for a decision that was under the jurisdiction of local election officials.
“Governor @GavinNewsom of California won’t let restaurants, beaches and stores open, but he installs a voting booth system in a highly Democrat area (supposed to be mail in ballots only) because our great candidate, @MikeGarcia2020, is winning by a lot. CA25 Rigged Election!,” Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon, again mischaracterizing the political makeup of the district and Newsom’s role, and suggesting Tuesday’s election is a mail-in-ballot election — it is not.
“Turn your ballots in now and track them, watching for dishonesty,” Trump warned on Twitter last month. “Report to Law Enforcement.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Sunday.
CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to reflect where Trump appeared Saturday at the White House for a photo op.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Abby Phillip, Kristen Holmes and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.