Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19 three days before his first debate against Joe Biden, according to his former chief of staff.

According to the Guardian – who say they have seen an advance copy of the memoir The Chief’s Chief, which will be published next week – Mark Meadows said Trump took a positive test on 26 September, then a second one which came up negative, days before facing Biden on 29 September, potentially exposing him to the virus.

He then announced he had Covid on 2 October and went to hospital later that day.

Meadows claimed he was informed of the result by a doctor who phoned him while travelling to a rally.

Meadows said the then president looked “a little tired” and suspected a “slight cold”. He added he was surprised that a “massive germaphobe” could have contracted Covid, given precautions including “buckets of hand sanitiser” and “hardly [seeing] anyone who ha[d]n’t been rigorously tested”.

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Meadows says the positive test had been done with an old model kit. He told Trump the test would be repeated with “the Binax system, and that we were hoping the first test was a false positive”

After receiving that new result, Meadows says Trump took that as “full permission to press on as if nothing had happened”. But Meadows also “instructed everyone in his immediate circle to treat him as if he was positive” throughout the Pennsylvania trip.

“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.”

In the days that followed the test and before the debate, Trump attended various events including an indoor press conference, a talk with business leaders and another Rose Garden press conference.

And on the day of the debate Meadows wrote that Trump was “moving more slowly than usual”. He said:

“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 host, Chris Wallace of Fox News, later said Trump was not tested before the debate because he arrived late and that organisers relied on the honour system.

indy100 has contacted Trump’s office to comment on this story.

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