Trump's chief of staff argued that COVID-19 cases on Mike Pence's team should be concealed, continuing a trend of secrecy in the White House

Tom Porter
Mark Meadows
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, under the umbrella, leaves the White House on October 25, 2020. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was opposed to publicly revealing that two aides to Mike Pence had tested positive for COVID-19, The New York Times reported.

  • Two White House sources told the publication that the Meadows hesitated to come forward with the diagnoses so close to the election.

  • The White House was also evasive about previous infections, including President Donald Trump's infection with the illness earlier in October. 

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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows opposed revealing publicly on Saturday that two members of Vice President Mike Pence's team had tested positive for COVID-19, The New York Times reported.

On Saturday it was revealed in media reports that at least four aides to Pence, including his chief of staff Marc Short and personal aide Zach Bauer, tested positive for COVID-19.

The Times reported that after Short tested positive late last week, Meadows had opposed releasing the information. 

Short, it said, wanted the White House use to announce his diagnosis, and to say that Pence had tested negative. Meadows opposed the idea, two senior White House sources told the publication. 

Meadows pressed the White House medical office not to release a statement, and urged the staff members not to publicly talk about it, according to the Times' sources. 

"Several people said they believed Mr. Meadows was trying to keep the situation from becoming public so close to Election Day. Mr. Meadows has indicated to people that he was doing what the president wanted," reported The Times. 

A senior White House official told the publication that Meadows was not trying to prevent knowledge of the outbreak becoming public, but wanted to compile more information before making a statement. 

Meadows told CNN on Sunday that he had not sought to suppress news of the new White House outbreak, but acted out of concern about "sharing personal information."

It's not the first time that the White House has been accused of seeking to cover up outbreaks in the executive mansion.

When President Donald Trump announced his positive coronavirus test on October 2, it was only after Bloomberg reported that his aide, Hope Hicks, had tested positive. 

Despite knowing that Hicks had tested positive, Trump had travelled to a fundraiser with hundreds of guests the afternoon prior to his own positive test.

The White House also refused to reveal the date of Trump's last negative test ahead of his diagnosis, meaning that it was unclear whom he may have met with while infectious. 

Pence has said he won't self-isolate despite having had close contact with Short. His office has said he will keep campaigning, citing an exception for workers deemed essential.

Trump and his top aides have continued to downplay the impact of the coronavirus, even as cases continue to soar in the US. 

In the interview with CNN, Meadows said that the US "is not going to control" the pandemic, in an apparent admission that the US would no longer be seeking to suppress the disease. 

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