Maggie Haberman on the Fallout from Trump’s Hospitalization by Isaac Chotiner at The New Yorker.
Thanks to Editor at Large Sherry for this one.
Following is part of Chotner’s interview with Habberman.
On Saturday, the day after President Trump was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with symptoms of covid–19, the country remained in a state of confusion about his medical status. The White House physician, Sean P. Conley, spoke briefly to reporters outside Walter Reed but did not disclose Trump’s temperature or whether he had been given supplemental oxygen. (The Times and the Associated Press are reporting that, according to their sources, Trump was given supplemental oxygen at the White House on Friday.) Conley also gave a time line of Trump’s illness that suggested the President tested positive on Wednesday, before he attended a campaign event in Minneapolis and another at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. (After the press conference, Conley released a statement saying that he had misspoken, and that Trump was first diagnosed on Thursday evening.)
Really? Conley misspoke? Making a 24-hour error? Something here does not ring true.
Conley said that Trump is “doing very well,” but White House reporters painted a more concerning portrait of his condition. After Conley spoke, a person familiar with Trump’s health told reporters, “The President’s vitals over the last twenty-four hours were concerning, and the next forty-eight hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to full recovery.”
Shortly after the press conference, I spoke by phone with Maggie Haberman, a Times White House correspondent. Since early Friday morning, when the White House announced Trump’s diagnosis, Haberman’s byline has appeared on more than twenty stories. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed what we know about when Trump first tested positive, how the President has been trying to control the narrative around his illness, and the level of coronavirus denial among Republicans in Washington.
What have you been able to learn about the timing of the President’s positive diagnosis?
Conley raised far more questions than he answered. I have reported that [Trump] was on oxygen at the White House. Conley seemed to give very equivocal answers around that, and what happened. The biggest question mark for me is Conley saying we are seventy-two hours into this diagnosis. If we are seventy-two hours into it, that suggests he has been sick since Wednesday, and that is a major question, because if he was sick on Wednesday, and they had him going to a rally in Minnesota, and then a fund-raiser, parts of which were in an indoor area at his club in Bedminster, that is important to know.
What have you been able to learn about the President’s state of mind?
His friend Stanley Chera, who was a real-estate magnate in New York, died [of the coronavirus, in April]. Chera was older than Trump is and was in worse physical shape than Trump is, and Chera got very, very sick, very quickly, and basically went into the hospital and never came out. Trump was very spooked by that, and I think that has stayed with him. And he is—I don’t want to say hypochondriacal, because that is not the right word—but he gets very agitated when he is not feeling great. And I think all of this contributed to how they were dealing with him [on Friday].
What do you mean by that?
What I mean by that is that some people experience the feeling of being sick differently than others, and I think he experiences it acutely, and it can be anxiety-provoking.