What makes a president bad

Corona illness of the US President : Superpower without a leader

The presidential helicopter "Marine One" is standing across as a privacy screen on the lawn in front of the White House, ready to take off with Donald Trump. The journalists of the press pool, government employees - and the American public in front of TVs all over the country are waiting by helicopter on Friday evening. They all want to see the President run to the helicopter and draw conclusions: Is his gait unsafe, does he need help, does he look very tired?

Many Americans no longer trust the official statements. According to them, Trump, who already belongs to the absolute risk group in the case of a corona infection because of his 74 years of age and his overweight, is in good spirits, he continues to work, only shows slight cold symptoms.

At 6.15 p.m. Trump leaves the White House, walks across the lawn to "Marine One", with no help and no visible weakness. He wears a mask, holds out his right thumb to the photographer as usual, and salutes the pilot. He avoids getting too close to the journalists and does not answer any questions. The helicopter takes off, lands a few minutes later and Trump moves into the presidential suite of the Walter Reed Clinic in Bethesda / Maryland in the outskirts of the American capital, where he will stay for the first time.

[If you want the latest news from Berlin, Germany and the world live on your mobile phone, we recommend our app, which you can download here for Apple and Android devices]

As reported by CNN, his condition deteriorated rapidly during the day. The situation is serious, said CNN's chief correspondent for the White House, Jim Acosta, citing those around the president. Trump is very tired and exhausted, has difficulty breathing. He is also said to have a fever. Officially, it is said that the president is fine.

Whether it will stay that way and whether it is even true, no one outside of the president's closest circle knows. One month before the presidential election there is suddenly the possibility that the incumbent fighting for a second term of office could be paralyzed by the virus, the danger of which he himself has repeatedly downplayed. That the president of the last remaining superpower, the USA, could fail.

When Trump took off, it was less than 24 hours since the news of Hope Hicks ’positive corona test startled America. The infection of one of the President's closest employees, who is constantly on the road with him, is not reported by the White House, but by Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs on Thursday at 8:39 p.m., Washington time. This is fueling speculation that the government actually wanted to keep the bad news to itself.

Since then, one breaking news has followed the next. At 10.44 p.m. on Friday night, the president tweeted that he and his wife Melania were waiting for the test results and would go into self-quarantine as a precaution. Evidence that it might have caught him this time are growing in strength. The 15-minute test should have been available long ago, they say. And Trump has never quarantined himself before.

[With the “Twenty / Twenty” newsletter, our US experts accompany you every Thursday on your way to the presidential election. You can register for free here: tagesspiegel.de/twentytwenty.]

At 0.54 a.m. the news follows, which continues to shake the nation: The First Lady and he had tested positive for Covid-19, Trump writes on Twitter. “We are starting our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We'll get through this TOGETHER! ”Then the President is silent - for a full 18 hours.

Joe Biden, his Democratic challenger in the November 3rd election, learns about all of this not through a notification to the White House, but through the media. The 77-year-old former Vice President is one of the huge group of people who must be tested immediately because he was in contact with the President in the past few days. He and his wife Jill quickly take the test on Friday morning and the result is negative.

More test results will arrive throughout the day. Many are negative - such as Vice President Mike Pence, Trump's children, his son-in-law, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - but increasingly positive too. Including two senators, Trump's campaign manager Bill Stepien, his former communications chief and close advisor Kellyanne Conway, the leader of the Republican Party, Ronna McDaniel - and three White House correspondents who were probably infected either in Washington or on the president's many trips . Despite all the precautionary measures that the White House Correspondents Association has imposed on itself. But what good is it if they keep their distance and wear masks, these measures are ignored by many around them?

On several occasions it was Trump himself who asked reporters at press conferences to take off their mask, otherwise he would not understand them. They were not always as steadfast as the Reuters journalist Jeff Mason, who refused and asked his question unmoved until the president understood it on his podium. Trump himself almost never wore a mask in the past few months, not even many of his closest employees.

Before the TV duel, Trump was not tested

During the TV duel last Tuesday, his family and other members of the delegation refused to take off their masks in the atrium of the "Sheila and Eric Samson" pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic. Although they were asked to do so by staff at the clinic. According to Chris Wallace, who moderated the debate, Trump and his family members arrived in Cleveland too late to be tested before the television duel.

Biden, on the other hand, had arrived in good time, everyone in the delegation of the democratic candidate was wearing a face mask - it could not be more clearly demonstrated how much this is a question of party political positioning.

Again and again during the election campaign and also during the TV duel, Trump made fun of Biden, who always wears a mask and either crouches in his basement or organizes small events that hardly anyone comes to. On the other hand, the president boasted, often 20,000 to 30,000 people came to see him. This statement is wrong - since the embarrassment of Tulsa, when Trump staged an indoor rally for the first time, to which significantly fewer spectators than expected, his campaign has only organized events with a few thousand fans, and mostly outdoors.

Usually the president has a lot of stamina in his rallies

For example, on Friday evening a week ago. The US President is standing on a stage with numerous flags on the Newport News airport grounds in the state of Virginia. He praises his own work, pulls on the Democrats and their candidates, whom he only calls "Sleepy Joe".

Even after an hour, Donald Trump has not yet reached the end of his speech. "Air Force One" is parked behind him, the moon illuminates the night sky above him, several thousand fans with red caps are standing in front of him and cheering him on. Trump continues, he has perseverance in such rallies, they put him on.

Five days later, a similar setting in Duluth, Minnesota. That evening, the day after the TV duel with Joe Biden, Trump ends after 45 minutes. This rally will go down in history as the shortest ever. On the return flight, Trump fell asleep temporarily in the presidential plane, reports the New York Times.

There was already speculation in the following hours, but only within the Trump cosmos, as is now known. The President shows the first symptoms of a cold. The word "coronavirus" is said to have been used and a treatment plan for the president was discussed. The public does not know anything about it. Experts assume that Hope Hicks was infected as early as mid-September - the number of possible contacts would be huge.

What can you believe this president?

The same pattern over and over again: the government remains silent, appeases or claims the untruth until there is no other way. To this day, it is unclear why Trump had an unscheduled appointment at Walter Reed's military hospital in November 2019 - and why his Vice President Pence should be ready to take over the business of government if Trump had to be anesthetized. The White House talked about routine checks at the time, but hardly anyone believes that. Such behavior promotes a dangerous crisis of confidence: what can you believe this president, what can you believe in the government?

Trump is now in Walter Reed again. On the advice of his doctors, this time the White House itself reports, he was admitted for "a few days" on Friday evening. Just as a precaution, of course, the president is fine.

According to his personal physician, he is being treated with an antibody cocktail that is still in the experimental stage. Sean Conley announced that the president received an eight-gram dose of synthetic antibodies from the US pharmaceutical company Regeneron.

The Republican campaign team said on Friday that all previously planned campaign events with the president would be postponed or held virtually. Also those of Trump's family members, who will probably also have to be quarantined.

Only Vice President Pence, who has avoided getting too close to Trump in the past few days, can continue to appear. However, he was also on stage to greet the president at the rally in Newport News on Friday a week ago. The television debate planned for next Wednesday between Pence and Biden's vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris has not yet been canceled, only the distance between the two is to be increased to four meters.

How little seriously many Republicans take the virus, that they even accept a super spreader event, became apparent last Saturday. At the solemn ceremony for the introduction of Trump's candidate for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, Senator Mike Lee from Utah hugs several people in the rose garden of the White House, his mask is not over his mouth and nose, but in his hand.

Lee has now also tested positive. So did his North Carolina Senate colleague Thom Tillis and the President of the Catholic University of Notre Dame, John Jenkins. In the video recordings, many other guests greet each other around the neck, pat each other on the shoulder, hardly any of them wears a mask. The chairs, on which everyone takes a seat shortly after, are close together. This is what Trump always wants at his events, so far nothing has moved him to rethink. It remains to be seen whether this could be any different now.

Just like the question of whether the fact that even the president and first lady in the safest house in the world are not protected from the virus and are now struggling with symptoms of Covid 19 disease changes a lot. On Friday afternoon, a government official said there was still no mask requirement in the White House. The AP news agency quoted the officials as saying that it was a "personal decision" whether to put on the mouth and nose protection.

A mask requirement? Not in the White House

The fact that our own experts, some of the best virologists in the world, have been declaring for months that this and keeping your distance prevent the unhindered spread of the virus is ignored at all levels. On Friday morning there are still said to be people entering the White House without a mask. In the capital, Washington, there is even a mask requirement on the street.

Ignorance annoys many. John Kornblum, once the US ambassador to Bonn and Berlin, said on the phone that his first thought after hearing about Trump's test was: “Now it's the right person. He downplayed the danger of the virus, he was arrogant. "

Why Trump consciously accepted the risk of infection is difficult to understand - especially since it has been known that he spoke in interviews with star reporter Bob Woodward in the spring that the virus was fatal. As can be heard on tape recordings, Trump also stated that he always wanted to downplay the risk of viruses in order to avoid panic. As of today, it seems even crazier. Does the President really think he is invulnerable?

The president should be worried - for himself

In the US media it is said that the president is beside himself with worry - for himself. The many people he has endangered with his downplaying strategy, including his own family, seem to worry him less.

How the voters will accept all of this will only be seen in the coming days and weeks. In a month there will be a vote. Trump's team cancels events or relocates them to virtual spheres, while his challenger, who leads the polls by around seven percentage points, travels through the swing states that are decisive for the election.

But Joe Biden also leaves a little bit of air from his election campaign: All commercials that attack Trump will be stopped on Friday. He has to manage the balancing act of pointing out Trump's mismanagement in the crisis and what he would do better himself - but without criticizing the president directly. That would probably not go down well with many.

Biden's reaction to Trump's test result is a long time coming, he doesn't want to make any mistakes. Only shortly before 9 a.m. on Friday morning did he speak up on Twitter: He and his wife were hoping for a quick recovery from Trump and his wife. "We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family."

The greatest "October surprise" of all time

Later it is said that the candidate is continuing his election campaign. In the afternoon there is a performance in the important state of Michigan. He's doing it statesmanlike - without attacking Trump, to whom he wishes all the best. It is noticeable that he keeps the mask on for the first time during his entire speech - he could not better emphasize the difference to the incumbent.

In the USA, “October surprises” are regularly expected before the election, which always takes place on the first Tuesday in November. Developments in the last few meters of the election campaign that have the potential to turn the race around again. But that Trump tested positive for the dangerous virus is anything but a surprise. You could say it was foreseeable.

At his rallies, supporters of the president regularly declare that the dangers of the pandemic are completely exaggerated. Some even claim that all of this is just an invention of the media, democrats or other sinister forces who wanted to bring the US to its knees. Can you blame them for months when their beloved president makes similar statements?

Shortly before his flight to the hospital, Trump tweeted again for the first time after 18 hours without speaking: an 18-second video with which he addressed the Americans before the transfer to the Walter Reed Hospital. An unusually brief message recorded in the White House. “I think I'm doing very well,” he says. The hospital should now ensure that everything is going well. His wife Melania is also doing “very well”, said the President and then thanks everyone for their “unbelievable support”.

His spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany seconded: The President will work in the "coming days" from the hospital. "President Trump remains in good spirits, has slight symptoms and has been working all day." And it is also emphasized that there will definitely be "no transfer of power", so Pence should not take over government affairs. But no one can say how credible such statements by the government are. The mistrust runs deep.

On Friday evening, the White House sends out the preview of the day for Saturday. There is only one sentence in it: "The President has not planned any public events."

To home page