Donald Trump’s White House physician, Sean Conley, insisted Saturday that the president is doing “very well” at the hospital. But his effort to paint a rosy picture of Trump’s condition and his clear attempt to be vague about a few details left lots of open questions about how the commander in chief is really doing. Conley said Trump has not had a fever over the past 24 hours and that his team is “cautiously optimistic,” adding that the president is “doing great” at Walter Reed. But even as Conley tried to paint a positive outlook, a White House source told pool reporters that some of Trump’s vital signs had been “very concerning” over the past 24 hours. “The source, who asked not to be identified, said the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of Trump’s care,” reports Reuters. (Update: The unnamed person was later revealed to be Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff)
Conley said the president is not currently on oxygen. But what should have been a simple question about whether he had ever been on oxygen ended up being an exercise in obfuscation as Conley refused to give a clear answer and seemed to be making an effort to phrase his words in a way to give himself some wiggle room. Initially, he repeatedly said the president was not on oxygen at the moment. He then said: “Thursday, no oxygen. None at this moment. And yesterday with the team, while we were all here, he was not on oxygen.” That seemed to leave open the possibility that the president was put on oxygen at the White House at some point.
There are also questions about timing. Conley said the president is “72 hours into” his diagnosis. The White House only confirmed to reporters that Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus early Friday morning, 35 hours before Conley’s briefing. Conley’s timeline means Trump could have been diagnosed as early as Wednesday. A White House official later said that Conley meant to say “Day 3” rather than 72 hours. Conley refused to get into when Trump last tested negative for the coronavirus.
Another physician, Dr. Sean Dooley, claimed Trump “said ‘I feel like I could walk out of here today,’ ” which Conley characterized as “an encouraging comment from the president.”
*This post has been updated with new information since it was first published.