An attending physician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center blasted the “astounding irresponsibility” of President Donald Trump, saying he put the lives of Secret Service agents at risk to wave at his fans from his motorcade on Sunday.
Trump made a spur-of-the-moment decision to briefly leave the hospital where’s he being treated for COVID-19 to do a “surprise” drive-by in the presidential SUV to wave to supporters — who he called “great patriots” — gathered outside.
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” Dr. James Phillips tweeted.
Two Secret Service agents could be seen inside the presidential SUV with Trump. All three wore masks.
“They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity,” Phillips said of the agents accompanying Trump.
Phillips — the head of Disaster and Operational Medicine in the Emergency Medicine Department of the George Washington University School of Medicine — noted that the SUV is hermetically sealed to protect against chemical attacks.
“The risk of COVID-19 transmission inside is as high as it gets,” other than during medical procedures, he added.
The White House confirmed that the trip was a “last-minute” decision. Reporters weren’t told it was happening.
“President Trump took a short, last-minute motorcade ride to wave to his supporters outside and has now returned to the Presidential Suite inside Walter Reed,” deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
The president tweeted a video message about his “surprise,” and insisted that he had “learned a lot about COVID,” adding: “I get it.”
His motorcade photo-op was also harshly criticized by the White House Correspondents Association, which called for transparency amid a medical crisis threatening the president.
“It is outrageous for the president to have left the hospital — even briefly — amid a health crisis without a protective pool present to ensure that the American people know where their president is and how he is doing,” association President Zeke Miller said in a statement.
“Now more than ever, the American public deserves independent coverage of the president so they can be reliably informed about his health.”
Other observers were also stunned that Trump put Secret Service agents’ lives at risk for a stunt.