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As Trump prepares to depart Walter Reed, confusion over his condition remains

President Trump is being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Monday evening, although serious questions about his health remain. His doctor, Sean Conley, said Trump’s “clinical status” supported his release, and Trump tweeted that he feels better than he did 20 years ago. But does his medical team have credibility after its confusing updates? Yamiche Alcindor reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    He's heading home.

    This evening, President Trump plans to leave a military hospital where he spent just under three days being treated for COVID-19. He says he will continue his treatment and recovery at the White House.

    Our White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor recounts the day's developments, so far.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The president is being discharged from Walter Reed. but serious questions still remain about the state of his health.

    Today, his physician, Navy Commander Sean Conley, spoke about his progress.

  • Sean Conley:

    It's been more than 72 hours since his last fever. Oxygen levels, including ambulatory saturations and his work of breathing, are all normal.

    Though he may not be entirely out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations, and, most importantly, his clinical status support the president's safe return home.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Before leaving, the president tweeted that he was feeling better than he did 20 years ago. He urged Americans not to be afraid of COVID and not to let it dominate your life.

    Sunday evening, while still contagious, the president briefly left the hospital. He made a surprise drive-by visit to wave at supporters outside the hospital. He wore face mask as he rode in a sealed presidential SUV. White House officials say his medical team approved the trip, but it potentially put at risk for exposure his Secret Service agents, who wore facial coverings and medical gowns.

    This morning, an attending physician at Walter Reed blasted the president's visit.

  • James Phillips:

    This was a dangerous move. There is no medical benefit for this to have taken place. It violates CDC guidelines that come from the president's own administration.

    They absolutely must quarantine. The CDC guidelines are clear that, if you spend that period of time within six feet of a person, it requires a mandatory 14-day quarantine. There are no caveats for masks, and this wasn't just a normal conversation. This is inside a chemical-weapon-proof vehicle.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Shortly before his surprise drive-by, President Trump posted a video on Twitter praising his nurses and doctors. Now several months into the pandemic, he said he has a deeper understanding of the virus.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn't the let's read the book school. And I get it, and I understand it.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    This weekend, the White House also released photos showing him working in the hospital's presidential suite, not wearing a mask.

    All this as a credibility crisis at the White House has deepened. The biggest issue now, who should the public believe when it comes to the president's condition and treatment?

    On Saturday, his physician evaded questions about the president's treatments and painted this rosy picture:

  • Sean Conley:

    This morning, the president is doing very well. The team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    But soon after, the president's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, contradicted him. Meadows said the president's early vital signs were — quote — "very concerning" and that he wasn't yet on a clear path to a full recovery.

    What's still unclear is precisely when the president was infected and just how many people were exposed as a result. Today, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, along with at least two of her deputies, also tested positive.

    McEnany tweeted — quote — "After testing negative consistently, including every day since Thursday, I tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning while experiencing no symptoms."

    McEnany has regularly briefed reporters without wearing a mask, including as recently as yesterday. Three journalists who work at the White House have also been infected.

    So far, more than 10 of the president's family and close associates have tested positive for the virus. They include first lady Melania Trump, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, White House adviser Hope Hicks, campaign manager Bill Stepien, former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, presidential aide Nicholas Luna, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and three Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah, Thom Tillis, of North Carolina, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

    Most of those who got the virus were either at a White House Rose Garden ceremony, held more than a week ago, where the president announced his Supreme Court nominee, or involved in his debate preparations last week.

    Two of the infected senators, Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee considering the president's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. Her confirmation hearings are set to begin next week.

    For her part, the first lady today tweeted that she was — quote — "feeling good" and would continue to rest at home. Vice President Pence, who tested negative again today, went to Salt Lake City, Utah, ahead of Wednesday's debate with his Democratic opponent, California Senator Kamala Harris.

    Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Joe Biden dropped his attacks in light of the president's illness. He said today he's still open to taking part in the next presidential debate scheduled for October 15.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    If the scientists say that it's safe, and the distances are safe, then I think that's fine. I will do whatever the experts say is the appropriate thing to do.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    After continuing to test negative for the virus, the former vice president campaigned this afternoon in the battleground state of Florida.

    As for the vice presidential face-off, the Debate Commission has agreed to position the candidates 12 feet apart. This comes after the Biden campaign voiced concerns about the safety of the original layout.

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