Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller became the latest White House staffer to test positive for COVID-19 late Tuesday, The Daily Beast has confirmed. Miller said he tested positive after repeatedly testing negative, raising concerns there may be many more within the president’s orbit unknowingly carrying the virus even as they report testing negative.
“Over the last 5 days I have been working remotely and self-isolating, testing negative every day through yesterday,” Miller said in a statement. “Today, I tested positive for COVID-19 and am in quarantine.”
Miller joins the president and first lady Melania Trump, top Trump adviser Hope Hicks, and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in falling ill with the virus. More than a dozen others who have been around the president and his staff have also tested positive, including two military aides, three journalists covering the White House, four staffers in the White House press office, and a personal assistant to the president.
Miller’s own wife, Vice President Mike Pence’s spokesperson Katie Miller, fell ill with the coronavirus in May. But amid the latest outbreak, she joined the rest of Trumpworld in portraying the virus as nothing to worry about and mocking the president’s opponents for seeking safety precautions, even as the president himself apparently struggled to hide his own gasping for air to tell billions of Americans that if they get COVID-19, “you’re going to beat it.”
While the White House has apparently done little to no contact tracing to determine the source of the mounting infections—and even reportedly declined to have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assist in tracking infections—a Rose Garden event on Sept. 26 announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has come under scrutiny as a possible superspreader event resulting in a wave of infections.
Several Trump allies who helped the president prepare for his Sept. 29 debate against former Vice President Joe Biden have also since tested positive for COVID-19, including former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, who also attended the Rose Garden event, campaign manager Bill Stepien, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and now Miller. Christie later told ABC's Good Morning America that “no one was wearing masks” during the debate prep.
With a wave of infections rocking the White House and so many who have been in contact with the president, the issue of safety has taken center stage ahead of Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris’ upcoming debate against Pence, who initially waved off precautions as unnecessary.
The Commission on Presidential Debates decided to move the candidates’ seats from 7 feet to 12 feet apart due to coronavirus concerns, and Harris will be allowed to use a protective barrier at the event scheduled for Wednesday night.
Pence’s physician, Jesse Schonau, said in a statement Tuesday that the vice president does not need to quarantine, despite having attended the Rose Garden event and others where participants subsequently tested positive for the virus. CDC Director Robert Redfield later cited a “consultation” with Schonau as his basis for deciding Pence is “safe” to participate in the debate as he was not a “close contact” to those who have fallen ill.