A pair of top Senate Democrats on Tuesday accused the White House of intentionally withholding from the public key details about President Donald Trump's condition following his Covid-19 diagnosis late last week, a lack of transparency the lawmakers said poses "an obvious threat to public health and is unacceptable in a free nation."
"Despite the risk to those who may have been exposed, the White House has conducted itself in a secretive manner and shown a complete lack of regard for public health and safety," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote in a letter (pdf) to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows just hours after Trump departed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Monday evening.
"Critical information about the health of the president and his associates appears to have been deliberately withheld in order to minimize public scrutiny and awareness."
—Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Patty Murray
"Critical information about the health of the president and his associates appears to have been deliberately withheld in order to minimize public scrutiny and awareness, and it is still unclear when the president or his advisers first knew there was an outbreak," the senators wrote. "In addition, there have been disturbing reports that minimal, if any, contact tracing has been conducted and few, if any, public health measures have been put in place to contain the spread of the disease."
The Democrats' letter comes after White House physician Sean Conley once again ducked and dodged straightforward questions about Trump's health during a press briefing on Monday, declining to provide details on either the timeline of the president's coronavirus test results or the findings of Trump's lung scans and blood work.
Over the weekend, as Common Dreams reported, Conley delivered similarly obfuscatory performances and on Sunday admitted that he purposely tried "to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness has had" rather than simply provide the facts about Trump's condition.
"And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true," said Conley, who admitted that Trump received supplemental oxygen on Friday after initially refusing to share information about the president's oxygen levels. "The fact of the matter is that he's doing really well.”
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Citing unnamed sources, CNN's Jim Acosta reported Monday that "Trump is likely instructing Conley what to disclose and not disclose."
On Tuesday, Conley said in a brief statement that Trump currently "reports no symptoms" of Covid-19.
"Vital signs and physical exam remain stable, with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95-97%," Conley said. "Overall he continues to do extremely well, I will provide updates as we know more."
President Trump's doctor releases an update on his condition, saying he has "no symptoms" today. It's not clear whether Dr. Conley will brief and take questions like he did for the last three days. pic.twitter.com/T5oF5f5irO
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) October 6, 2020
In their letter Tuesday, Schumer and Murray demanded that the Trump administration "immediately provide a thorough and complete description of what, if any, contact tracing regimen has been instituted to prevent further spread of the virus, and detailed information about the progress of that effort, if it exists," as well as "complete transparency regarding the timeline" of the White House outbreak.
"The United States remains deeply mired in a crushing public health crisis that has already claimed more than 209,000 precious lives," the senators wrote. "It is a crisis that has now reached deep into the White House and the Senate. Our most important priority must be the health of the American people, not optics or political considerations."