here’s a bit of luck

Trump’s national security adviser tests positive for Covid-19
Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak, Betsy Klein, CNN, Jul 27 2020

Trump’s national security adviser (NSA), Robert O’Brien, has tested positive for Covid-19, according to an official familiar with what happened. O’Brien’s diagnosis marks the highest-ranking Trump admin boxtop known to have tested positive. It’s unclear when O’Brien last met with Trump. Their last public appearance together was over two weeks ago during a visit to SOUTHCOM in Miami on Jul 10. O’Brien is experiencing “mild symptoms” and is “self-isolating and working from a secure location off site,” according to an unnamed statement to the press from the White House. That statement confirmed O’Brien’s test results to reporters before his staff was formally informed. Several NSC staffers told CNN that they weren’t informed that O’Brien tested positive and learned of the news from media reports.

O’Brien, one of Trump’s top aides, recently returned from Europe, where he and his top deputy met with officials from the UK, France, Germany and Italy. A senior administration official told CNN that O’Brien has been working from home since last week. A source familiar said O’Brien was last in the office last Thursday, when he abruptly left the White House. The White House statement said there is “no risk of exposure to the President or the Vice President.” White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters that one of O’Brien’s daughters also contracted Covid-19 and that’s how he believes he got it. The NSC chief was accompanied on the trip to Europe by Secret Service agents, staffers and multiple reporters. Multiple pictures released from the trip showed O’Brien neither practicing social distancing nor wearing a mask. One foreign official tells CNN that the Elysée, the French presidential palace, is scrambling as it processes the news of O’Brien’s positive test result. O’Brien met with Emmanuel Bonne, French President Emmanuel Macron’s top foreign policy adviser on Jul 14. Bonne briefs the French President multiple times a day. Just days later, Macron and Bonne traveled to Brussels for negotiations at a European Council Summit. On Thursday, O’Brien, who by then had returned to Faschingstein, abruptly canceled a meeting with another Euro boxtop, saying simply that he was doing so “for personal reasons.”

As the pandemic has spread, the President has defended not wearing a mask or social distancing, with many of his top officials and White House staffers following suit, saying that it’s not necessary because they are tested every day. O’Brien’s positive test underscores the unique challenges of keeping the virus away from the West Wing and the President’s immediate orbit. Last week, admin boxtops were alerted that a cafeteria employee on White House grounds had tested positive. Kimberly Guilfoyle, the President’s son’s girlfriend and top campaign fundraising official, tested positive before a trip to Mt Rushmore earlier this month. Multiple Secret Service agents and campaign staffers tested positive after becoming infected while preparing for the President’s Tulsa campaign rally in June. Pence’s communications director Katie Miller tested positive for coronavirus in May, and one of the President’s personal valets tested positive earlier that week. O’Brien, Trump’s fourth NSA, has been largely out of sight during the coronavirus pandemic. CNN has previously reported that rather than helping to lead the administration’s response, he has delegated responsibilities to top aides and even bypassed coronavirus task force meetings. Trump tapped O’Brien, a former lawyer and hostage negotiator, to the post in Sep 2019, one week after he fired John Bolton amid disagreements on foreign policy issues.

Trump National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien Has Coronavirus
Jennifer Jacobs, Saleha Mohsin, Bloomberg News, Jul 27 2020

Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien tested positive for Covid-19 but the White House said his infection poses no risk to the president or Pence. O’Brien, 54, the closest person to the president known to have contracted the disease, has been out of the office since late last week, according to a person familiar with the matter. O’Brien caught the virus while taking a few days off from work, spending time with his family, according to people familiar with the matter. His daughter, who is college age, became ill first, White House economic director Larry Kudlow told reporters. Confirming an earlier Bloomberg News report, the White House said in a statement:

NSA O’Brien has mild symptoms and has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site. There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president. NSA O’Brien hasn’t seen the president since before his vacation.

Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday:

I haven’t seen him lately.

Since his diagnosis, O’Brien has been isolating at home while still running the NSC, doing most of his work by phone, another person said. The people asked not to be named to discuss details that aren’t yet public. O’Brien and senior staff on the NSC are tested daily for Covid-19. His office is near the Oval Office and Pence’s West Wing office. O’Brien’s infection comes as the pandemic continues to surge with infections and deaths on the rise in many states. Trump last week resumed regular briefings to reporters about the virus after polls showed voters increasingly disapprove of the president’s handling of the virus. There have been 16.2m cases of coronavirus worldwide since the pandemic began earlier this year, with deaths passing 648k, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. In Pindostan, there have been more than 4.2m cases and 146,935 deaths, according to the data. The president has changed his message in recent days on the virus. Last week, Trump abruptly called off RNC activities set for August in Jacksonville, Florida, citing concerns over the outbreak. He began promoting the use of masks after downplaying the need for them. Trump also said some public schools may not be able to open on time in virus hot spots, after earlier calling on them to restart. NSC staff weren’t informed that O’Brien had tested positive, one person familiar with the matter said. Some found out through press reports, they said.

One Comment

  1. PB
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    This ups the possibility of exposure of Pompeo. Fingers crossed.

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