When Donald Trump had already decided who would be the chosen woman to replace the iconic Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Supreme Court, he lacked the place in which to stage the coup that would advance the electoral campaign trying to put aside the ugliness of the 200,000 deaths that the coronavirus has left in the US. By then, the president had already seen the video in which Bill Clinton presented his chosen one, the late Ginsburg, in the Rose Garden of the White House, on a beautiful spring day in June 1993.
It did not matter that the new normal dictates two meters of separation, the use of masks or avoiding gathering more than 10 people at an event. Trump wanted to emulate Clinton and practically copied the staging of the former Democratic president in the presentation of Judge Ginsburg. The result? On Saturday, September 26, more than 100 people sat in the Rose Garden in rows of chairs without the usual safety distance, coconut with elbow, delighted to see themselves on such an important day – the one in which the Supreme Court leans towards conservatism – and, in some cases, hugging and shaking hands.
Each and every one of the security recommendations against the virus that the authorities demand were blown up. A domino effect had just begun that every day that passes a new positive for covid-19 is charged in the White House and those close to him. Utah Senator Mike Lee: Positive. It is he who is seen euphoric giving hugs in videos that have run like wildfire since the names of advisers to the president began to be announced on the payroll of the disease.
Former Communications Advisor Kellyanne Conway: Positive. Thom Tillis, Republican Senator from North Carolina: Positive. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, with a positive result for covid-19. In a photo from that fateful Saturday, Christie is seen glued to Father John Jenkins, president of the Catholic University of Notre Dame, where Supreme Court nominee Amy Comey Barrett teaches classes. After testing positive, Father Jenkins published a statement in which he regretted "his error of judgment" in deciding not to wear a mask.
It is true that the president of Notre Dame also felt calm during his stay at the White House, since all the guests were made to go through a special room of the presidential residence to practice the familiar coronavirus test, which consists of introducing a stick with a cotton ball through the nose. "Once the sample was taken, they took us to the Rose Garden to sit with the rest of the guests who had also taken the test and had tested negative," Father Jenkins explained in his press release.
According to experts, the test system to detect coronavirus that the White House uses, the Abbott laboratory rapid tests, has a high rate of false negatives compared to other diagnostic tests that take longer to provide the result. A week after that event on the White House lawn, at least eight people have tested positive, including the president of the United States and the first lady. According to the ABC network, the Association of Correspondents of the White House has also confirmed the contagion of one of the journalists who covered the event.
All the alarms went off on Thursday night, when it was learned that a close collaborator of Trump, Hope Hicks, after feeling unwell after the debate on Tuesday night had passed through the hands of the White House medical team and the result was a blow: positive for coronavirus. Shortly after, the final blow came: The president and his wife were also infected. They had all been traveling together in the days before and at the presidential debate. Another positive was added to the list of infected: Bill Stepien, Trump's campaign manager.
Adding insult to injury, the confirmation of the disease in two of the Republican senators who sit on the Judiciary Committee has jeopardized Judge Barrett's confirmation if neither of them can vote in the Upper House in the coming weeks. For now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has canceled any voting for the next two weeks, though he has said Barrett's confirmation hearings are going ahead. This Saturday, another Republican senator, Ron Johnson, confirmed that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. McConnell said Friday that "the biggest enemy" for Republicans in moving forward with the Barrett confirmation process was "the virus." And, without a doubt, its handling.
Trips, rallies, photos … all without masks
On Wednesday, September 30, Donald Trump spoke to the White House press with the background sound of the propellers of Marine One that would take him to Andrews airport to travel to Minnesota for a campaign event. Before heading to the helicopter, the president took a photo with a man and his son. Neither of the two adults wore a mask; the child, yes.
Upon arrival at the Minneapolis-St. Paul, the president was received, closely, by several political personalities, among them the senator of that State Kurt Daud. Trump was later at a fundraiser and then flew up for a campaign rally that had about 3,000 people. Masks practically none. Of course not the president, who also enthusiastically threw caps with his slogan: "Make America Great Again" (Make America Great Again).
The day that Trump was closest to his opponent, Joe Biden, was Tuesday the 27th, during the celebration in Cleveland (Ohio) of the first presidential debate. No candidate on the podium wore a mask. They kept a safe distance. Sitting in the audience, next to Trump's family and advisers, including Hope Hicks: none covered his nose and mouth. Yes, Biden's wife did, Jill. Former Vice President Barack Obama and his wife were tested as soon as they learned that Trump had tested positive. They have tested negative.