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White House Transparency in the Time of COVID

screen grab from C-SPAN video
Donald Trump leaves for Walter Reed Medical Center for COVID 19 treatment.

Donald and Melania Trump have been diagnosed with coronavirus. That should come as little shock, since Trump has regularly ignored the CDC guidelines which recommended masks and social distancing.

The shocking thing is that they didn’t contract it sooner. The most probable cause of their infection is their contact with White House aide, Hope Hicks, who tested positive sometime after attending this week’s Presidential Debate.

The seriousness of the illness on all parties involved remains a mystery. The White House is reporting all are experiencing mild symptoms, but can this be trusted?

One consistency of this administration is their lack of transparency. They have repeatedly lied and obfuscated as to the seriousness of this pandemic, which has now seen over 208,000 Americans die as the White House downplayed the illness. So, why should they be trusted when they issue updates on Trump’s health?

When the news of Hick’s illness broke, it was not because of a White House press release. It was an intrepid Bloomberg reporter who discovered her condition. The White House sought to hide her diagnosis while Trump kept a regular schedule, traveling to his Bedminister, NJ golf club to attend a fundraiser, putting his donors at risk.

Reporters who covered this administration didn’t learn about their possible exposure until they saw the news on CNN. Even his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, wasn’t informed of the risk, and also had to find out from network news.

That is downright criminal!

As the day went on, more and more people reported positive results from their coronavirus testing. Yet, the White House remains mum as to when the first case was reported. A likely event was the announcement of Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court due to the large number of unmasked participants in the Rose Garden ceremony.

And while the administration sought to downplay Trump’s condition, it was downgraded to “moderate” as news of his condition worsened and he was transported to Walter Reed Hospital, where he is expected to spend “several days”.

Again, this was not a White House press release, but members of the press corps who discovered this.

So, whatever the outcome, no one can ever be sure of the truth. It certainly won’t be coming from anyone in the White House unless it’s the press corps, which has done an amazing job of keeping us informed.

But, what if it’s all a hoax? It wouldn’t be the first time Trump used the media to deflect from damning allegations. In 2016, the uproar over the infamous Access Hollywood tape was quenched by the release of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails via Wikileaks. Now we have the explosive information about Trump’s tax returns. What better way to deflect than to evoke sympathy by claiming to have a serious illness and then “miraculously” recovering in record time?

While there is zero proof this is the case, the lack of transparency is leaving the administration wide open to the very kind of conspiracy theories Trump thrives on. The number of positive tests, which now includes at least three GOP senators and former White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway makes this an unlikely scenario. Perhaps if we knew more, there would be less doubt.

The lies, deflections and lack of transparency are now coming back to haunt this administration. If they had been honest to begin with, perhaps people would be more willing to believe them now. Instead, we have more scrambling to explain, deny or re-write history based upon the latest revelations.

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Wow I had not even considered that he and they would be using covid to deflect his tax return scandal!

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