WASHINGTON — The past 24 hours for President Donald Trump, infected with COVID-19, have been chaotic and destabilizing by even his own standards.
As more than a dozen of his closest aides and advisers test positive, Trump unleashed a torrent of at times nonsensical public statements that temporarily set the stock market tumbling, promoted someone saying she would get infected with COVID-19 in his name, and claimed he’d make an experimental medicine for the deadly virus that fewer than 10 people in the nation have taken free of charge to all.
“Hi, perhaps you recognize me,” Trump, looking significantly tanner after resting indoors for two days, said in a video posted to Twitter on Wednesday night. “It’s your favorite president.”
This all comes with less than a month until the election that he has sought to destabilize as he trails in the polls and faces a growing number of US citizens killed by COVID-19 every single day.
The chaos began just before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, when Trump tweeted that Republicans would no longer work to pass a coronavirus stimulus package.
“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election,” he wrote.
In response, the stock market, which had been up on Tuesday, fell quickly, particularly shares of airline companies that had been expecting bailouts. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 1.3% and the S&P 500 dropped 1.4%, although both recovered Wednesday.
But the president was only getting started. He went on to tweet and retweet over 40 times on Tuesday night, including retweeting an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and writer, Paul Sperry, 16 times. Many of Sperry’s tweets were about the Steele dossier and Russian interference in the 2016 election — which Trump won — and Trump tweeted that Hillary Clinton should be charged, despite the 2020 election being less than a month away. He also tweeted that Joe Biden, his Democrat opponent, “SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO RUN.”
One of his retweets was simply someone who wrote: “it's not republican vs democrat anymore. it's pro-america vs turn us into a third world hellhole.”
Trump’s tweets ranged from a reckless assault on the media to retweets of actor James Woods, a far-right shitposter, calling the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio an “anti-Semite thug piece of shit!” And then a tweet from one loyal Trump supporter, @hrenee80, who said she would “wade through a sea of COVID infested water to vote from President Trump on November 3rd."
To which the president replied, “Thank you, Heather!”
The president also retweeted a video of a crowded bar in DC where patrons were cheering on masked police. Many of the patrons, however, were not wearing face coverings.
He stormed Twitter at a time that many of his aides have tested positive for the coronavirus, the military’s top brass are in quarantine, and his vice president, Mike Pence, has replaced him on the MAGA campaign trail while he recovers.
Despite being infected himself with the deadly disease, tweets on the pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans were far and few between. That was until he released a video released Wednesday afternoon where he stood outside the White House and declared that catching COVID-19 was “a blessing in disguise.”
“I think this was a blessing from God that I caught it,” said Trump.
The video sounded like an advertisement for Regeneron, a drug company Trump previously owned stocks in and whose CEO Leonard Schleifer is a member of Trump’s golf club in Westchester, according to CNN.
Trump spoke about how he “wasn’t feeling so hot and within a very short period of time they gave me Regeneron,” although the antibody cocktail the president had is called REGN-COV2, and the company name is Regeneron. “I think this was the key,” said Trump, who promised that hundreds of thousands of doses of the treatment were ready to go out, despite the fact that fewer than 10 people outside of clinical trials have currently received it, including the president.
“I want to get for you what I got,” said Trump. “And I’m going to make it free.”
Regeneron has not yet responded to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment on details of Trump’s claims. In July the company received $450 million in government funding to manufacture and supply REGN-COV2.
It is not uncommon for the president to just tweet his way through any situation, but the barrage of tweets came a day after Trump left Walter Reed Hospital for the White House to finish his recovery.
Trump’s doctors gave little information to the public Wednesday about the president’s health, and did not note whether the president is still on the antibody cocktail or any other therapeutics, like the steroid dexamethasone that he had been taking over the weekend.
The tweets led some Democrats to question the president’s mental capacity. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, shortly after hearing the coronavirus stimulus talks were halted, told a conference call of Democrats: “Believe me, there are people who thought, who think, that steroids have an impact on your thinking,” the Washington Post reported.
And as Pence prepared to take to the stage for Wednesday’s vice presidential debate, where plexiglass is being used to separate the candidates to mitigate the risk of coronavirus transmission, the president kept tweeting, but did not mention the debate or encourage anyone to watch it.