President Donald Trump refused during a town hall Thursday to say when he last received a negative coronavirus test result before his positive diagnosis — despite being pressed repeatedly to clarify this point.
Asked by NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie whether he was tested for COVID-19 on the day of the first presidential debate, Sept. 29, Trump said he “probably” did, though he wouldn’t commit to a response.
“Possibly I did; possibly I didn’t,” he said.
Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, based on an “honor system,” were supposed to have tested negative for the virus if they did not arrive at the Cleveland debate site in time to be tested there. Fox News’ Chris Wallace, the debate moderator, later said Trump arrived too late to get an on-site test.
Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 two days after the debate. He subsequently spent three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
The White House has been similarly evasive about the date of Trump’s last negative test prior to his positive result.
Alyssa Farah, the White House communications director, told reporters last week that “the doctors would like to keep” that information “private.”
As USA Today noted, Brian Morgenstern, the deputy communications director, sidestepped questions on the topic six times during an interview on MSNBC.
White House physician Sean Conley said Monday that Trump had tested negative for the virus on “consecutive days” and was “not infectious to others.” Other medical experts, however, have questioned the methods Conley used to determine Trump’s lack of infectiousness.
Trump has since returned to conducting in-person campaign events before large crowds.
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