Trump tested positive for COVID-19 days before debate with Biden, Mark Meadows says

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Donald Trump
Donald Trump Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump received a positive COVID-19 test result days before participating in a presidential debate last year, according to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

In his forthcoming book, Meadows writes that Trump tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 26, three days before a debate with then-candidate Joe Biden, The Guardian reports. The candidates were required "to test negative for the virus within seventy-two hours of the start time," but "nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there," Meadows writes.

The positive test result came after the White House held a ceremony in the Rose Garden for Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court. According to Meadows' account, Trump then tested negative for COVID-19 using a different test, but his initial positive result was not publicly announced at the time.

Meadows reportedly recalls delivering the news to Trump, who he says responded with a reply that "rhyme[d] with 'Oh spit, you've gotta be trucking lidding me.'" When Trump then received a negative result, he took this as "full permission to press on as if nothing had happened," the book says. Despite this, Meadows writes that he "instructed everyone in his immediate circle to treat him as if he was positive" during a Pennsylvania trip.

"I didn't want to take any unnecessary risks, but I also didn't want to alarm the public if there was nothing to worry about — which according to the new, much more accurate test, there was not," Meadows writes.

On the day of the debate, Meadows says Trump looked "slightly" better, but "the dark circles under his eyes had deepened" and he "was moving more slowly than usual." Moderator Chris Wallace has said Trump wasn't tested prior to the debate. Days later, Trump announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2, and he subsequently had to be hospitalized. Read more at The Guardian.

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