Trump denies claim from Meadows' book that he tested positive for COVID-19 before debate with Biden

Trump calls the claim that he had COVID "fake news"

Updated: December 1, 2021 - 1:42pm

Former President Trump has denied the claim in his former chief of staff Mark Meadows' new book that he tested positive for COVID-19 hours before his first presidential debate with Joe Biden in 2020.

"The story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News. In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate," wrote the former president Wednesday. 

In an excerpt from Meadows' book "The Chief's Chief," the former Trump administration adviser writes that Trump initially tested positive for the virus on September 26 – three days prior to the debate – and the same day that the White House held a ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett celebrating her nomination to the Supreme Court.

According to Meadows, just before the presidential plane departed for an evening rally in Pennsylvania, he got a call from White House doctor Sean Conley saying the president had tested positive.

By the time Meadows delivered the news to the president, who was already aboard Air Force One, Trump reportedly said something that "rhyme[d] with 'Oh spit, you’ve gotta be trucking lidding me.'"

At that point, the president was retested with a new testing model – "the Binax system" – which returned a negative test. 

"I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks," writes Meadows, "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."

On the day of the debate, Meadows says the president appeared to generally be in good health, 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."

Several days later, on Oct. 2, 2020, the White House announced that Trump and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus.