Oct 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he doesn't remember being tested for COVID-19 before first debate

Donald Trump and Joe Biden at the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.
President Trump and Joe Biden at the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.

President Trump said during a town hall event aired on NBC News Thursday that he does not recall being tested for the coronavirus before the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.

Why it matters: The president tested positive for the virus on Oct. 2, just three days after standing onstage with former Vice President Joe Biden. The Commission on Presidential Debates requires that candidates test before the event.

What he's saying: "I don't know, I don't even remember. I test all the time," Trump said after "Today" anchor Savannah Guthrie asked whether he had been tested on the day of the debate.

  • "I can tell you this, after the debate — like, I guess, a day or so — I think it was Thursday evening, maybe even late Thursday evening I tested positive. That's when I first found out"
  • Trump did not specify when exactly he tested negative before contracting the virus and noted he does not get tested everyday. He also told Fox Business earlier on Thursday that he's tested for the coronavirus "a lot," but "not every day."

The big picture: The White House has relied heavily on testing as a protective measure against the virus, but critics started raising questions about that strategy after the president, staffers, members of the press corps and members of the Trump family tested positive earlier this month.

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