Trump’s Doctor Just Admitted He Lied to Stay “Upbeat.” He’s Still Leaving Big Questions Unanswered.
Dr. Sean Conley, President Trump’s physician, speaks to reporters about Trump’s treatment for COVID-19.Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty
For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.Donald Trump’s physician acknowledged Sunday that the president’s bout with COVID-19 was not going as well as he indicated yesterday. After evading questions on Saturday about whether Trump had received oxygen treatment, Dr. Sean Conley acknowledged at a Sunday press briefing that Trump had “two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation levels” and had received supplemental oxygen at the White House.
It’s been clear for the last 24 hours that Trump’s medical team has not been forthright about his health. Sunday’s briefing only confirmed it once a reporter asked Conley why he had waited to disclose that Trump had been administered oxygen.
“I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness has had,” he said. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction.”
Trump’s doctor says he didn’t admit yesterday that Trump was put on oxygen because he was trying to be publicly upbeat. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the illness in another direction.” pic.twitter.com/luMyDyacZH
— David Mack (@davidmackau) October 4, 2020
He also provided new details about the president’s care that suggested a more complicated—and possibly more severe—medical picture than previously known. Along with suffering from two spells of low oxygen saturation, doctors said Trump has been given the steroid dexamethasone, a drug that the World Health Organization recommends be used for patients with “severe and critical COVID-19.”
Big questions remain. When asked what adverse impacts of the disease maybe evident in the president’s chest scans, Conley said there are “some expected findings”, but did not elaborate. Nevertheless, the doctors forecast a possible return to the White House for the president as early as tomorrow. No new information was provided about the veiled series of events that led to Trump’s diagnosis.
Confusion was sown during a a press briefing on Saturday, when Conley said he was “extremely happy with the progress the president has made,” but evaded questions about whether Trump had received oxygen, simply acknowledging that Trump was “not on oxygen right now.” He also said Trump was “72 hours into the diagnosis now,” which conflicted with Trump’s own declaration that he tested positive on Thursday night. (Conley later claimed that he meant to say “day three” of the diagnosis.)
After Conley stopped speaking, an anonymous White House staffer—later revealed to be Chief of Staff Mark Meadows—told a White House pool reporter that Trump’s “vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning” and he was “still not on a clear path to a full recovery.” These conflicting statements and the jumbled timeline of Trump’s original diagnosis make clear that the White House is lying to the American people. Conley only admitted Sunday that Trump received oxygen after several news outlets had already reported it. Trump, who seems to think wearing a mask makes him less of a man, seemed so concerned with the coverage of his health that he dictated a statement to Rudy Giuliani to give to the New York Post, in which Trump said, “I feel I could get out of here right now.”
It’s one thing for Giuliani, who has turned lying for Trump into a second career, to be his PR stooge. It’s a quite a different thing when it’s Trump’s doctor spinning on his behalf.