Coughing Trump struggles to speak as he dodges Sean Hannity's questions about his COVID-19 tests
Donald Trump; Sean Hannity
Donald Trump and Sean Hannity photo illustration from Salon / Getty Images
President Donald Trump, who continues to recover from symptoms of COVID-19 after his recent hospital stay, repeatedly dodged questions about whether he tested positive for the disease in a lengthy phone interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday.
At one point, the president stopped speaking as he tried to quell his cough amid anger over his former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Trump publicly mocked Clinton for contracting pneumonia during the 2016 campaign.
"Have you been tested recently?" Hannity asked the president.
"Yeah, I just saw the doctors today and they think I'm in great shape," Trump said. "I'm in great shape."
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"Did you test negative?" Hannity pressed.
"I'm telling you, I took this Regeneron. It's phenomenal. Eli Lilly has something very similar and it's phenomenal," replied Trump, referring to the maker of the experimental antibody cocktail he received at the White House a few hours before his flight Walter Reed Medical Center.
"It's a whole new day. If you go back a few months, no one has ever thought about this stuff. We made it up. I'll have it taken to every hospital. We have sick people with COVID - with China Virus, like." we call it, "Trump said, invoking a xenophobic term for the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. "It actually made me better. I went in. I could have left a day later. I'm telling you Sean, it was amazing."
But the President, who was one of the first 10 patients to receive treatment under a special "compassionate" arrangement, cannot have them "taken to every hospital." Such a performance would currently be impossible, taking into account supply, logistics and economic efficiency. It would also disrupt the federal process for clinical trials.
"This is Regeneron," Trump reminded the Fox News host, with whom he is known to have pillow talks. Regeneron is operated by a member of a president's private golf club who donated more than $ 55,000 to groups supporting Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. The stock rose following a viral Twitter video the president posted on Wednesday.
In this video, Trump mistakenly welcomed the drug maker's experimental therapeutic as a "cure" and mistakenly promised to make it "free" to hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The president did not seem to remember the day of the week and described his release as "yesterday". In fact, it was two days earlier.
Trump also didn't seem to remember receiving the antibody infusion prior to his hospital trip - not while he was in the hospital, as he claimed. The president could also mistake it for at least two other experimental treatments he received during his hospital stay: the antiviral remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone. In particular, the effects of the steroid would likely have been felt more immediately than the antibody treatment, an expert told Salon.
"Have you had a test since your diagnosis a week ago?" Hannity repeated.
"Probably the test will be tomorrow - the real test," said Trump and again did not answer Hannity's question. "Because there is no need to test all the time. They found very little, if any, infections or viruses. I don't know if they found any. I haven't talked to the doctors much about it."
The president also withheld information from Hannity in a phone interview conducted a week earlier when he failed to reveal his own positive test. During that interview, Trump also accused soldiers and law enforcement officials of infecting his top aide, Hope Hicks, citing the uniformed men 's desire to "hug" and "kiss" each other.
The White House and Trump's doctor have repeatedly refused to respond the last time the president had a negative test. At least 34 people who work in or for the White House have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks, according to an internal administrative log. When Salon asked questions about other top officials this week, a White House spokesman declined to answer, saying it would no longer make this information available to the public.
Trump continued to praise the care he had received from Walter Reed, telling Hannity that he believed he was "the most analyzed person in the world right now." The president also boasted that his doctors "are amazed at how quickly this honestly went".
Trump's personal doctor, Dr. Sean Conley, has been criticized for providing an incomplete picture of the president's health and repeatedly refusing to disclose important medical information such as the president's diagnosis schedule and whether lung scans showed signs of pneumonia. In his first briefing from Walter Reed on Saturday, Conley lied about whether the president had been given supplemental oxygen the day before; he apologized the next day.
Later in the Hannity interview, Trump, whose voice was scratchy, stopped speaking to suppress a cough and clear his throat. This wasn't the only place in the interview where his voice showed signs of struggle. Earlier this week, Conley released a memo claiming Trump "reported no symptoms".
Fox News announced Friday that the network would host Trump's first live video interview after he was hospitalized at Tucker Carlson Tonight. Dr. Marc Siegel, one of the network's medical staff, "will conduct a medical assessment and interview during the program."
The White House tells two stories about the number of times Trump is tested
Trump was one of the first 10 patients to receive experimental COVID-19 treatment with special use
You can watch a clip below on Twitter:
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