What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

How are White House staffers reacting to Trump’s diagnosis?

After three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, President Trump is preparing to return to the White House. His release comes after several days of inconsistent updates from the medical team caring for him, as well as news that he was given a steroid treatment usually reserved for severe cases of COVID-19. What happens now? Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And late today, we got word that President Trump does plan to participate in the next presidential debate on October 15.

    And Yamiche joins me now.

    So, Yamiche, tell us more about the decision to have the president leave the hospital, go back to the White House. And what do we know about how he will continue treatment and recovery at the White House?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president's doctors insist that he is well enough to go home.

    They say he is predominantly back to his old self. Of course, they say he is not out of the woods yet. That, of course, is complicated by the fact that the president's doctor has said that he wants to give an upbeat outlook to the president's condition and his treatment.

    He also has admitted to not being fully transparent. So, there are a lot of people wondering whether or not the information that he's giving can be trusted.

    But, if he is to be trusted, he is saying that the president is fine to go home. He says that he's going to be monitored 24 hours, seven days a week. He says the White House medical staff are the best in the country. And, as a result, there will not be any problems, he said that nothing that they will miss, that they would have missed at the Walter Reed that they would miss at the White House.

    He also says that the Walter Reed medical staff is going to be backing up the White House medical staff. So, there's going to be added people there.

    One thing, though, how is the president going to be monitored. He's continuing to have treatments, including a five-day regimen that's likely going to continue while he's at the White House. It's also not clear where the president's actually going to go when he gets to the White House.

    There are sources saying that he's not going to go to the West Wing, the Oval Office, kind of the official part of the White House. Instead, he's going to be sticking to the residence.

    But it's not clear whether or not the president might be moving about. But, again, the president's — the president's doctors really focused on the fact that the president is completely safe to go home, that this is all OK.

    There are, of course, people who are very alarmed by the state of affairs.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Yamiche, as you have been pointing out, we have seen conflicting messages coming from the White House to doctors about the president's condition.

    What questions do you and other reporters who follow all this very closely still believe are unanswered?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Judy, there is a long, long list of questions that — critical questions that the White House is not providing answers to.

    Chief among them are, when did the president last test negative for the coronavirus? The White House is refusing to answer that critical question. The president's doctor today said he didn't want to go backwards. He also cited HIPAA, of course, the privacy law, saying that he can't give information that his patient has not allowed him to give.

    So, essentially, the president is saying he does — he wants to keep some information to himself.

    Another key question is, is there lung damage that the president has sustained because of this fight? Of course, he's in that critical risk group of being 74 and overweight. We don't know if the president ever had pneumonia, ever had any sort of problems with his lungs.

    We also don't know when the president last tested before he went to the debate last week, and — last Tuesday. There are a lot of people wondering, was the president already feeling ill?

    Another critical question is, was the president traveling and holding events while feeling ill? That's a big question, because, possibly, he could have been spreading the virus while feeling maybe a slight nasal condition or a slight cough.

    Another thing to note is, as of now, where is the president going to really be when he's at the White House? I touched on that before, but there's a big — there's a big question of whether or not he's going to be endangering the lives of other people, Secret Service agents, White House staff that has to clean up offices or clean up the residence.

    So there's real worry about all of those questions. And, right now, the White House is adamant that they don't want to answer those questions officially.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Yamiche, what is known?

    I mean, aside from all that, what do we know about the so-called contact tracing, which the White House had said it was going to be doing, contacting people in touch with the president? And how are the people you talk to who work in the White House dealing with all this?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    I talked to multiple people who work at the White House, who were inside that building, outside that building at different events.

    People are freaking out, to put it lightly. People are so anxious. They don't know whether or not they have the virus, whether or not they tested negative several times and then will come up positive, which is what happened with the White House press secretary today.

    People are lining up to get tested. They're also waiting to get calls to see if the White House is, in fact, doing contact tracing. And the White House has said they have an in-house epidemiologist that was going to be carrying this out. There are some people who said, why not have the CDC?

    But the White House saying, we can handle this. But then there are reports saying, the White House might not do this at all. So, there are also a number of people, including Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, as well as Michael Shear, reporter for The New York Times.

    Both of them have been — have turned up positive. Neither one of them said that they were contacted by the White House. So that tells you that people who are positive who were at the White House, they're not being part of this contact tracing.

    So it's very concerning for people who are wondering whether or not the president and the White House are really doing the right thing when it comes to contact tracing.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So many — so many unanswered questions, as you say.

    Yamiche Alcindor, reporting on all of this for us, thank you, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks so much.

Listen to this Segment