There is concern in the Trump campaign after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, in a stunning exchange with CNN’s Jake Tapper, said Sunday “We are not going to control the pandemic.”
A Trump campaign adviser said there is widespread frustration with Meadows over his comments.
“Everyone was clear that Meadows sh** the bed again,” the adviser said.
While Trump has dismissed rumors he’s planning to get rid of Meadows in a potential second term, he remains displeased with how his chief of staff handled the crisis surrounding his own bout with coronavirus, including telling reporters at Walter Reed the president’s symptoms were worrying as he was recovering from coronavirus. Even a few weeks later Trump remains upset that information was disclosed.
“Every time we build some momentum, Meadows f***s it up with an interview,” the adviser added.
The White House did not respond to CNN’s request for comment, but pressed on his own comments and subsequent criticism from the Biden campaign during a gaggle with on Monday morning, Meadows repeated himself.
“The only person waving a white flag, along with a white mask, is Joe Biden. I mean when we look at this, we're going to defeat the virus. We're not going to control it. We will try to contain it as best we can,” he said.
A separate adviser said it’s probably best that Meadows not do TV between now and the election, though Meadows suggested he would be making appearances on CBS and ABC’s morning shows on Tuesday.
The unforced error, made just nine days before the election, comes as Meadows has made it known among staffers that positive Covid-19 tests shouldn’t be disclosed publicly in the interest of avoiding the appearance of unmanaged contagion.
That strategy has mostly failed as the cases became public anyway through leaks.
The inability to keep a lid on things reflects Meadows’ diminished standing inside the building, according to multiple officials.
Many others in the building believe Meadows failed to communicate properly with staffers about the extent of the West Wing outbreak, leaving officials to glean for themselves who might be infected and whether they should quarantine. While Meadows has said he was doing so in the interest of privacy, the lack of guidance for days — while Meadows himself was spending nights with Trump at Walter Reed — angered many people.
CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.