The Trump campaign told staff to stop testing for COVID-19 during an outbreak at the June 2020 Tulsa rally.
ABC’s Jonathan Karl reveals new details about the ill-fated rally in his forthcoming book “Betrayal.”
The campaign also told staffers who tested positive to drive back to D.C. instead of quarantining.
The Trump campaign’s leadership instructed staffers to “STOP TESTING” as a COVID-19 outbreak tore through staff working on former President Donald Trump’s June 2020 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to a forthcoming book.
In his new book, “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” ABC News Correspondent Jonathan Karl reveals new details about Trump’s disastrous Tulsa rally, which drew paltry turnout from supporters while causing a COVID-19 outbreak within Trumpworld. An excerpt of the forthcoming book was published on Thursday in Vanity Fair.
Trump hoped a return to the rally circuit would help turn around his declining poll numbers and approval ratings, which had taken a nosedive amid the pandemic and economic downturn. He eschewed more COVID-safe outdoor and drive-in options in favor of the BOK Center in Tulsa, a state with a Trump-friendly GOP governor and relatively lax COVID-19 restrictions.
But not long after arriving in Tulsa, a growing number staffers working on the event, including at least six Trump campaign staffers and two Secret Service agents, tested positive for the virus.
As news of the COVID-19 outbreak began leaking in the news media, the Trump campaign communicated from the top down to stop testing even though eight positive cases had been confirmed and publicly reported on the day of the rally, Karl wrote.
Trump repeatedly and falsely attributed the US’s high rates of COVID-19 cases to increased testing. This continued at the Tulsa rally where he called testing “a double-edged sword” and told supporters that he’d ordered health officials to “stop the testing” earlier that year.
“Here’s the bad part: when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases! So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please! They test, and they test!” Trump told the crowd.
After the event, Trump staffers who tested positive were told not to quarantine themselves for 10 days, as was recommended at the time by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead they were directed to drive back to Washington, DC, Karl reported.
“There was a car of three staffers who had tested positive that drove all the way from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Washington, D.C.,” a senior Trump advisor told Karl. “We called it a COVID-mobile.”
One staffer, who Karl does not identify in the book, became seriously ill and was hospitalized after contracting the virus at the rally.
“It was really scary,” a senior Trump official told Karl. “He was actually worried he was going to die.”
And 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain also came down with the virus and died from COVID-19 complications on July 30, about a month after the rally. Cain’s death was a devastating outcome that Trump staffers blamed themselves for, with one telling ABC’s Will Steakin, “We killed Herman Cain.”
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