Oct 4, 2020 - Health

White House aide says physician withheld health specifics to lift Trump's spirits

White House communications director Alyssa Farah said Sunday that White House physician Sean Conley withheld specific details at Saturday's press briefing about Donald Trump's medical condition in order to "convey confidence" and "raise the spirits" of the president.

Driving the news: Conley and the White House have come under intense criticism after Chief of Staff Mark Meadows provided an anonymous statement to reporters on Saturday saying that Trump had a "very concerning" period on Friday, contradicting the more rosy assessment Conley had provided in a television briefing just moments earlier.

  • Pressed by Axios' Alayna Treene at a briefing earlier on Sunday, Conley said he was "trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, his course of illness has had."
  • "I didn't want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true," Conley added.

What she's saying: Farah appeared to echoed Conley's statement, telling Fox News that it is "a common medical practice that you want to convey confidence, and you want to raise the spirits of the person you’re treating."

  • "I know this president, I don’t know that he needs his spirits raised, but I think actually it’s a very common medical practice to do that. So if anything, the doctor was giving a really strong and confident viewpoint," Farah said
  • "We’re committed to being transparent with the public, but what I’ve learned in these moments is that accuracy is in fact more important than speed."
  • “We’d rather get you the fully accurate, full-picture information, rather than rush out the door with facts when we don’t necessarily have all of that."

Farah later told reporters that Meadows' anonymous statement contradicting Conley was intended to "give you guys more information just to try to be as transparent as we can."

The bottom line: Conley admitted Sunday that Trump experienced two "transient" episodes in which his oxygen saturation level dropped below 94% and that he received supplemental oxygen on Friday after registering a "high fever."

  • Conley added that following a drop in oxygen levels on Saturday, Trump is now receiving dexamethasone — a steroid that has been found to significantly reduce the risk of death among patients who are on a ventilator and provide more limited benefit for patients who are on supplemental oxygen.
  • Overall, the president's condition has "continued to improve," Conley said.

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