Oct 4, 2020 - Health

Campaign adviser defends Trump drive-by during coronavirus treatment

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller pushed back during a fiery exchange on CNN Sunday against anchor Ana Cabrera's suggestion that President Trump's drive-by visit to supporters outside Walter Reed hospital was for a "photo op."

Details: "I don't think this was a stunt at all," Miller said in response to Cabrera's suggestion that this was the reason Trump had left the hospital Sunday where he's being treated for COVID-19.

"This was President Trump showing people he's very gracious for the hospitality they have shown him, the support that he has, for the hundreds of people outside of Walter Reed medical center there."

The big picture: Trump's drive-by likely violates CDC guidelines that recommend health care professionals "limit transport and movement of the patient outside of the room to medically essential purposes." Trump wore a mask during the trip.

  • James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed Medical Center, criticized the decision, saying it put the lives of those inside the SUV "at risk for theater." "My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play," Phillips said.

What else they're saying: Miller said the Secret Service agents who accompanied Trump in the SUV were taken care of by the agency, which "always" takes "extra precaution."

  • "I'm not part of White House operations or the White House medical unit. So the exact logistics I can't speak to, but I know the Secret Service takes this very seriously," he added in the interview, which lasted for over 16 minutes before it abruptly ended with Miller's satellite feed cutting out.
"I think it was great that President Trump was able to get out there and show he's ready to take this virus head on. You can't stay locked up, whether it be in the attic or in the basement, or whatever. We need to go out and lead."

Of note: Cabrera, who questioned the safety of Trump's trip and said that he had been "downplaying the virus," asked if his campaign would introduce "additional protocols," such as mandating masks at events, given the president's diagnosis.

  • "We're going to tell people, just like we always have they need to wear the masks ...  That’s why we’ve been doing it for long before this," Miller replied, to which Cabrera noted that this would mean there would be no mandate.
  • "We're going to take their temperature, we’re going to give them the mask and we’re going to continue to be safe," Miller responded.

Go deeper: Trump campaign adviser: Biden has "too often used the mask as a prop"

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