‘We’re working on it’: Psaki’s response when confronted with Biden’s claim he would shut down virus

White House press secretary Jen Psaki  tried to lighten the mood when grilled by a reporter Wednesday over President Joe Biden‘s broken promise to tackle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

‘We’re working on it, Peter,’ a smiling Psaki told Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy after he asked what became of Biden’s plan to ‘shut down’ the virus.

‘We’re all sick and tired of this virus, but we need approximately 20 percent of the population – or more people than are currently vaccinated – to go get vaccinated and go get boosted,’ she said. 

 ‘What we can do as the federal government is make those vaccines free and make the boosters free, make them available, but we need the American people to do more who are not vaccinated to help us continue to fight the virus.’

More than 780,000 Americans have died of the COVID-19 virus since it took hold in early 2020.

Psaki also tore into former President Donald Trump for not disclosing he had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 before debating Biden last year.

She extended that criticism to Trump’s allies in Congress, with conservative Republicans now threatening to shut down the government Friday night if the Democrats include funding for Biden’s vaccine mandates in a stop-gap bill.  

Psaki said those Republicans wanted the unvaccinated to be free to ‘infect their co-workers, our children, filling hospitals.’  

Jen Psaki cracked a joke to try and lighten the mood Tuesday when grilled by a Fox News reporter about President Biden’s unfulfilled promise to tackle COVID 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday tore into former President Donald Trump for not disclosing he had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 before debating now President Joe Biden

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday tore into former President Donald Trump for not disclosing he had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 before debating now President Joe Biden

Psaki called out Trump for appearing at an indoor event with Gold Star families (pictured) one day after he received a positive COVID test. Trump took another COVID test that day and was negative, but then officially tested positive for the virus six days later

Psaki called out Trump for appearing at an indoor event with Gold Star families (pictured) one day after he received a positive COVID test. Trump took another COVID test that day and was negative, but then officially tested positive for the virus six days later 

‘No one should be suprised that currently in Congress, as we’re looking at the government staying open you have … supporters of the former president who withheld information, reportedly, about testing positive, and appeared, apparently, at a debate,’ she said. 

‘Also held events at the White House, reportedly, with military veterans and military families, reportedly,’ she continued. ‘Many of you covered, so you can confirm that – and did that without disclosing.’

The Guardian got an early copy of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ book Tuesday and reported the shocking revelation that Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 the same day as the Amy Coney Barrett ‘super-spreader’ event, which took place three days before he first appeared on the debate stage alongside Biden. 

More than 780,000 Americans have died of the COVID-19 virus since it took hold in early 2020

More than 780,000 Americans have died of the COVID-19 virus since it took hold in early 2020

The Washington Post later confirmed the account with two unnamed Trump aides.   

Two days later, in the early hours of October 2, Trump announced he was positive.  

Trump took two COVID tests on September 26 with the first saying he was positive and the second saying he was negative – and he chose to believe the latter. He went on to hold a number of events including rallies, press conferences and an event with Gold Star families on September 27.    

At the briefing, Psaki expanded her criticism beyond Trump.

‘And these supporters of the former president are advocating for shutting the federal government down so that 20 per cent of the public who are refusing to get vaccinated or tested can be free to infect their coworkers, our children, filling hospitals – that is what they are advocating for,’ she said.  

She was responding to a Politico Playbook report that conservative Republicans are plotting to use Friday’s government shutdown deadline to press Democrats to remove money for Biden‘s vaccine mandates from the funding bill. 

With a short deadline, and a elongated process to pass legislation in the Senate if all members don’t agree to using unanimous consent, conservatives could trigger a short shutdown, despite Republican Leader Mitch McConnell saying Tuesday that it wouldn’t happen. 

‘I’m sure we would all like to simplify the process for resolving the [continuing resolution], but I can’t facilitate that without addressing the vaccine mandates,’ Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, told Playbook. 

At another point in the briefing, Psaki brought up Trump’s COVID non-disclosure again as Fox News’ Peter Doocy challenged Biden’s record on the pandemic, with the Omicron variant detected in the U.S. earlier Wednesday.   

‘Well I think the fundamental question here is what are you doing to save lives and protect people?’ Psaki replied.  

‘And the former president was suggesting people inject bleach, he apparently, reportedly didn’t even share with people that he was going to interact with that he had tested positive for COVID himself,’ she said. 

She also blamed Trump for continuing to ‘provide a forum for misinformation,’ which led people, she said, to be anti-mask and anti-vaccine.      

Psaki also said ‘we were not aware’ of Trump’s positive COVID test until the reports came out Wednesday morning.   

Meadows wrote that Trump tested positive on September 26, the day he held a Rose Garden event announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, which turned into a super-spreader.  

It was six days before Trump tweeted that he was infected with the virus and subsequently hospitalized.   

As Trump boarded Marine One on the way to a Pennsylvania rally scheduled for after the Saturday Barrett event, White House Dr. Sean Conley told Meadows, ‘Stop the president from leaving. He just tested positive for COVID.’ 

It was too late to stop the helicopter, and when Meadows informed Trump of the positive test while onboard Air Force One, the president said something that rhymes with, ‘Oh spit, you’ve gotte be trucking lidding me.’ 

The Guardian obtained a copy of Meadows’ book, The Chief’s Chief, which comes out next week, on Tuesday. 

Meadows said Trump’s initial test had been done using an old model kit and so the president was tested again using ‘the Binax system, and that we were hoping the first test was a false positive.’ 

The second test came back negative, with Trump taking that as ‘full permission to press on as if nothing had happened.’ 

At the time of their showdown in Cleveland on September 29, Trump was 74 years old, while Biden was 77.    

‘The story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News. In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate,’ Trump said in a statement issued Wednesday morning. 

In the statement, Trump doesn’t deny he received a positive test. 

‘I don’t think about the former president,’ President Joe Biden replied when asked if he believed Trump put him at risk.

President Donald Trump (left) tested positive for COVID-19 three days before his first debate against now President Joe Biden (right) on September 29, Mark Meadows reveals in his forthcoming book

President Donald Trump (left) tested positive for COVID-19 three days before his first debate against now President Joe Biden (right) on September 29, Mark Meadows reveals in his forthcoming book 

Pictured: Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump's final chief of staff during his time in the White House. Meadows is releasing a new book titled The Chief's Chief, in which he revealed Trump tested positive for COVID three days before a debate with Joe Biden

Pictured: Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump’s final chief of staff during his time in the White House. Meadows is releasing a new book titled The Chief’s Chief, in which he revealed Trump tested positive for COVID three days before a debate with Joe Biden

A TIMELINE OF THE PRESIDENT’S TRAVEL BEFORE ANNOUNCING COVID INFECTION

Saturday, September 26: Trump announces his Supreme Court pick at the White House, then travels to a rally in Pennsylvania with aides including Hope Hicks. 

Trump tests positive for Covid-19, according to Mark Meadows’ new book. 

Sunday, September 27: The president plays golf in Virginia, gives a press conference in the White House briefing room and hosts a reception for Gold Star families. 

Monday, September 28: Trump gives a press briefing and inspects pickup vehicles on the White House lawn.  

Tuesday, September 29: Hicks is aboard Air Force One with the president and Melania to travel to the first presidential debate in Cleveland. Hicks is seen leaving the jet without a mask. 

The president spars with Joe Biden in a chaotic debate. Trump family members do not wear masks during the debate, violating venue rules.  

Wednesday, September 30: Hicks travels on Marine One and on Air Force One to a rally in Minnesota Wednesday.

She is understood to have felt poorly on the way back, quarantining on the presidential plane to get home. 

Thursday, October 1: Trump still travels to New Jersey for a fundraiser. 

Hicks tests positive. 

Trump says he is awaiting test results, before confirming he and wife Melania have tested positive for Covid-19. 

Friday, October 2: A political rally in Sanford, Florida is cancelled. 

Trump went on to announce that he had COVID-19 in the early hours of October 2, three days after his debate with Biden.  

The White House said the then-president announced the positive result within an hour of receiving it. 

Trump flew to Walter Reed Medical Center for medical attention later that day.  

On Saturday evening, September 26, Meadows wrote that Trump looked ‘a little tired’ and he suspected the president had a ‘slight cold,’ but he was ‘content’ with Trump traveling to the rally in Middletown, Pennsylvania.    

Meadows wrote that Trump was surprised at the positive test results because he was a ‘massive germaphobe’ and avoided seeing anyone who hadn’t been rigorously tested. 

At the same time, Trump and those around him mostly refused to wear masks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the Barrett event in the Rose Garden, which likely led to Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, Sens. Mike Lee, Thom Tillis and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie becoming infected, only a handful of attendees sported masks – and there was an indoor reception as part of the programming.  

Meadows said after the initial positive test, he instructed everyone in the president’s inner circle to treat Trump as if he was positive, the former chief of staff writes in the book.      

‘I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks,’ Meadows wrote, ‘but I also didn’t want to alarm the public if there was nothing to worry about – which according to the new, much more accurate test, there was not.’ 

Meadows said that the audience at the rally would have not known anything was wrong. 

The public was not told about the president’s tests.  

And the White House refused to answer reporters’ questions about the tests when it leaked out that Trump had tested positive before the debate, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman said Wednesday.  

Haberman added that her sources disputed Meadows’ account that he let Trump’s inner circle know about the positive test. 

And another New York Times reporter, Michael Shear, recalled Trump coming back to the press cabin on Air Force One on September 26 to speak maskless with reporters. 

‘I was wearing a mask, but still got COVID, testing positive several days later,’ Shear tweeted Wednesday morning.  

Despite Meadows saying that Trump knew he tested positive for COVID-19 on September 26, the president would go on to suggest that he caught the virus from Gold Star family members at an event on September 27.

Trump complained that they stood too close to him at the event that honored families of fallen US service members. 

‘They want to hug me, and they want to kiss me. And they do. And, frankly, I’m not telling them to back up. I’m not doing it,’ Trump told Fox Business in October 2020 after his recovery. ‘Give me room. I want room. Give me 12 feet. Stay 12 feet away when you talk.’

Also on September 27, Trump held a briefing with reporters, alongside a maskless Christie, Rudy Giuliani and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. 

McEnany tested positive days later. Giuliani would get COVID and be hospitalized in December 2020. 

On September 28, Trump staged an event with business leaders and held a Rose Garden press conference later that day.

‘Somewhat ironically considering the his circumstances,’ Meadows wrote, Trump spoke at the press conference about a new testing strategy that was ‘supposed to give quicker, more accurate readings about whether someone was positive or not.’   

On the day of the debate – September 29 – Meadows wrote that Trump was looking ‘slightly’ better. 

‘Emphasis on the word slightly,’ Meadows said. 

Former President Donald Trump (left) tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after the Rose Garden event announcing Amy Coney Barrett (right) as his Supreme Court pick. A second test said he was negative so he went about his business for several days, including participating in the first presidential debate

Former President Donald Trump (left) tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after the Rose Garden event announcing Amy Coney Barrett (right) as his Supreme Court pick. A second test said he was negative so he went about his business for several days, including participating in the first presidential debate 

At nearly 1 a.m. on October 2, former President Donald Trump announced via tweet that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19

At nearly 1 a.m. on October 2, former President Donald Trump announced via tweet that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 

Former President Donald Trump sent out a statement Wednesday morning denying the claims in Meadows' forthcoming book

Former President Donald Trump sent out a statement Wednesday morning denying the claims in Meadows’ forthcoming book 

President Donald Trump addresses reporters in the White House lawn on September 26 before departing for his Pennsylvania rally. He would be informed he tested positive for COVID while on board Air Force One en route to the rally, but a second test then said he was negative

President Donald Trump addresses reporters in the White House lawn on September 26 before departing for his Pennsylvania rally. He would be informed he tested positive for COVID while on board Air Force One en route to the rally, but a second test then said he was negative

‘His face, for the most part at least, had regained its usual light bronze hue, and the gravel in his voice was gone. But the dark circles under his eyes had deepened. As we walked into the venue around five o’clock in the evening, I could tell that he was moving more slowly than usual. He walked like he was carrying a little extra weight on his back,’ the former chief of staff described.  

The host, Chris Wallace of Fox News, later said that Trump was not tested before the debate because he was late to arrive. 

But Trump’s motorcade had arrived at the debate site shortly before 4:30 p.m., hours before he and Biden faced off. 

Wallace said organizers relied on the honor system. The White House did not say that Trump had tested positive then negative three days prior to the debate. 

‘Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there’, Meadows wrote of Trump’s determination to participate in the face-off with Biden.  

Three days after the debate, on October 2, Meadows helped Trump get to the hospital.  

Trump announced on Twitter that he and his wife Melania Trump were positive for COVID-19.

Earlier in the evening he had called in to Sean Hannity’s show and said he was awaiting his results on the heels of aide Hope Hicks testing positive for the virus. Hicks had accompanied Trump to a rally in Minnesota the night before and started feeling sick on the plane ride home. 

Days later, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump didn’t disclose to Hannity he had already tested positive for the virus on October 1 and was awaiting the result of a confirming test.  

During Trump’s stay in hospital, Meadows helped orchestrate events designed to show the president was in good health. 

But at the same time, he led to further confusion when he told the White House pool shortly after Conley said the president was doing ‘very well’ that in fact Trump’s condition was ‘very concerning.’ 

‘We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery,’ Meadows said. 

He tried to be identified as a ‘a source familiar with the president’s health,’ however photographers on the scene captured Meadows briefing the group of reporters. 

Trump was reportedly furious at Meadows’ disclosure.  

Trump recovered – and reports since, including from The New York Times, have revealed that the president was far sicker than the White House said. 

The Times reported that Trump’s blood oxygen level had dipped into the 80s, that doctors feared he’d need to be put on a ventilator and he was treated with the Regeneron antibody cocktail and the steroid dexamethasone, reserved for those with a severe form of the disease. 

Still, Trump took a joyride on October 4 outside of Walter Reed to wave to supporters, garnering criticism for possibly exposing members of his Secret Service detail to COVID-19. 

He also took off his mask and waved to the press from the Truman Balcony when he returned to the White House on the evening of October 5.   

The book says Trump's September 26 positive result was a shock to the White House, which had just staged a Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett - an event now widely considered to be a COVID super-spreader

The book says Trump’s September 26 positive result was a shock to the White House, which had just staged a Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett – an event now widely considered to be a COVID super-spreader

President Donald Trump sent out a video clip on October 3, 2020 as he spent time at Walter Reed Medical Center being treated for COVID. Trump's battle with COVID was tougher than the White House let on, subsequent reports have said

President Donald Trump sent out a video clip on October 3, 2020 as he spent time at Walter Reed Medical Center being treated for COVID. Trump’s battle with COVID was tougher than the White House let on, subsequent reports have said 

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (center) and Kellyanne Conway (back left) both tested positive for COVID after the September 26 'super-spreader' event announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as Trump's Supreme Court pick. Few attendees sported masks

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (center) and Kellyanne Conway (back left) both tested positive for COVID after the September 26 ‘super-spreader’ event announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Few attendees sported masks 

White House physician, Dr. Sean Conley, addresses reporters on President Donald Trump's condition outside of Walter Reed Medical Center on October 3. Conley had tried to inform Trump of his positive COVID result before he left for the September 26 Pennsylvania rally

White House physician, Dr. Sean Conley, addresses reporters on President Donald Trump’s condition outside of Walter Reed Medical Center on October 3. Conley had tried to inform Trump of his positive COVID result before he left for the September 26 Pennsylvania rally 

The copy of the book was obtained by The Guardian on Tuesday, the same day Meadows announced that he would reverse course and cooperate with the House committee investigation into the deadly January 6 attack on the Capitol building. 

It came a day after Politico reported that Meadows was among those who could join the 2024 presidential ticket for vice president, as Trump seeks to replace former Vice President Mike Pence. 

A lawyer for Meadows, George Terwilliger, said Tuesday that he was continuing to work with the committee and its staff on a potential accommodation that would not require Meadows to waive the executive privileges claimed by Trump or ‘forfeit the long-standing position that senior White House aides cannot be compelled to testify before Congress.’

Terwilliger said in a statement that ‘we appreciate the Select Committee’s openness to receiving voluntary responses on non-privileged topics.’ 

He had previously said that Meadows wouldn’t comply with the panel’s September subpoena because of Trump’s privilege claims.

Thompson said that Meadows has provided documents to the panel and will soon sit for a deposition, but that the committee ‘will continue to assess his degree of compliance.’

Under the tentative agreement, Meadows could potentially decline to answer the panel’s questions about his most sensitive conversations with Trump and what Trump was doing on Jan. 6.

Still, Meadows’ intention to work with the panel is a victory for the seven Democrats and two Republicans on the committee, especially as they seek interviews with lower-profile witnesses who may have important information to share. 

The panel has so far subpoenaed more than 40 witnesses and interviewed more than 150 people behind closed doors. 




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