Who's The Liar-- Trump, Meadows, Both Of Them?

Fake News

A couple of days ago, Trump declared the revelation in former chief of staff Mark Meadows' book that Trump had tested positive for COVID before the debate with Biden-- and several public appearances-- "fake news." Meadows dutifully went on a neo-Nazi TV network, Newsmax, and agreed that it was fake news, although it is in the book he had just written and was out promoting. "The president's right. It's fake news."

After Meadows' worshipful admission, Trump was back helping him promote the book, although it has been reliably and widely reported that Trump feels the book is a "fucking stupid" and "garbage." Reporting for the Daily Beast, Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley wrote that Meadows screwed up his whole attempt to write an ass-kissing book about Trump. "Meadows," they wrote, "really, truly thought Donald Trump would adore his new book. In the weeks leading up to the rollout for his soon-to-be-released memoir about serving then-President Trump, the former GOP congressman and ex-White House chief of staff was privately telling others how much Trump would enjoy the book, according to two people familiar with the matter. Meadows, who remained a particularly sycophantic Trump loyalist and adviser well into Trump’s post-presidency, was counting on his former boss, as well as other MAGA notables, to enthusiastically promote and endorse the book to help juice sales. 'He thought Trump was going to love it,' one of these sources attested. Well, Mark Meadows was wrong."

On Wednesday, The Guardian published an excerpt of Meadows’ forthcoming book, The Chief’s Chief. The former top Trump staffer wrote that the president tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before his October 2020 debate with Joe Biden, and then nonetheless went ahead with an appearance on the debate stage because Trump interpreted a subsequent negative test to be correct rather than his initial positive one.
In this week’s sprint towards damage control, Meadows attempted to play it off as a mere detail-- an innocent, amusing coincidence!-- in what he hoped would be a Trump-adulating, bestselling memoir.
But in his efforts to write a hit book, Meadows apparently failed to fully grasp that what he confessed to amounted to a massive cover-up, led by Trump and himself, that needlessly endangered the lives of staff, family, military families, and various guests of the White House, as well as now-President Joe Biden. Whether Meadows realized it or not, it’s an incredible story. Meadows and Trump kept the positive test a secret not just from the public, but also from a number of other prominent officials and senior aides in the administration, some of whom are now voicing their annoyance, if not outright disgust, with Meadows’ admission.
“I wasn’t aware-- as chief of staff to the First Lady,” Stephanie Grisham, a former top Trump official who has publicly broken with the ex-president and his family, told The Daily Beast on Friday. “My staff helped with… the White House events, putting them at risk along with everyone else. It’s disappointing but not surprising that as [Melania Trump’s] chief of staff… I was never made aware of the then-president’s positive test. I don’t know if Mrs. Trump was told, but I hope not because East Wing staff helped work some events in the White House during that time.”
Publicly, the twice-impeached former president played the “fake news” card this week. Meadows, somewhat confoundingly, tried to play the same card, focusing on how the media had bizarrely focused on a “false positive” that was less than a week before Trump was in the hospital with severe COVID symptoms.
But behind the scenes, despite Meadows seeming to find a way to thread the needle and agree with the former president, Trump’s displeasure toward Meadows this week was volcanic.
According to two sources with knowledge of the matter, and another person close to Trump, the ex-president has spent an inordinate amount of the past few days privately railing against Meadows, the revelation in the memoir, and, of course, the extensive media coverage of the matter.
Both in conversations with confidants, social pals over the phone, or in person, Trump has made a point of aggressively scolding his former chief of staff behind his back this week. The former president has, for instance, said that he didn’t know ahead of time that Meadows was putting that “garbage” about the positive test in his memoir, two of the people said.
That’s an about-face from the gushing praise Trump heaped on Meadows’ book in a statement back in October. At that time, Trump called The Chief’s Chief “a fantastic book” about “politics, truth, our great administration, and exciting achievements that took place in government”-- adding that it “would make an incredible Christmas present.”
The source close to the ex-president said that, at one point in the past few days, Trump bemoaned that Meadows had been so-- in Trump’s succinct phrasing-- “fucking stupid” with his book.
On Friday, Meadows declined to comment on this story. A Trump spokesperson also did not provide comment.
While Trump trashes Meadows behind the scenes, Meadows continues to try to clean up his embarrassment for Trump.
Meadows began doing doing damage control the very same day The Guardian piece was published-- the same day that Trump publicly denounced the information from the effusively pro-Trump memoir.
“Well, the president’s right, it’s fake news," Meadows told Newsmax’s Rob Schmitt about the claim in his own book. The former White House chief of staff claimed his account of Trump’s pre-debate coronavirus scare had been taken out of the context of Trump’s subsequent negative test.
But the Newsmax appearance doesn’t appear to have been enough to stem the damage. Meadows, who was the favorite to be Trump’s 2024 campaign manager until this episode, has now spent the past week spinning the anecdote, including an appearance on the obscure “Real America’s Voice” network where he acknowledged the attempt to stem the negative headlines wasn’t working. “We’ve tried to correct the record but I appreciate you allowing me to correct the record with you today,” he told an America’s Voice anchor.
And yet, despite Meadows’ best efforts, it’s not entirely clear that Trump’s second negative test on the day of the debate was correct. His negative results appear to have come from an antibody test, which the Centers for Disease Control “does not recommend” to diagnose a current infection. Antibody tests detect cases of previous infection from the presence of antibodies developed to fend off an infection and may not be present in the early stages of COVID-19.
In his book, Meadows described Trump as looking bleak and groggy on debate day, “moving more slowly than usual” and having shed a recent bout of “gravel in his voice.”
Days later, Trump was rushed to Walter Reed Medical Center with a confirmed case of COVID-19. And after Trump was admitted to the hospital, debate moderator Chris Wallace said the narrow window between the debate and diagnosis made him “think [Trump] had the coronavirus during the debate.”
And if Meadows’ book wasn’t bad enough for him, there are signs it could affect his legal case to avoid testifying before the Jan. 6 Committee, thus further complicating his relationship with Trump.
Politico reported on Wednesday that Democratic members of the Jan. 6 inquiry believe his book undermines Meadows’ attempts to avoid testifying before the committee on executive privilege. The book’s discussion of the events surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection, Rep. Adam Schiff told Politico, could constitute a waiver of executive privilege.