Defiant in the face of slipping opinion polls, and determined to justify his implausible claim of a full recovery from his encounter with Covid-19, Donald Trump will return to public events on Saturday with a “law and order” address to 2,000 invited guests from the White House balcony.
Related: ‘A surreal reality show’: Trump’s terrible week after his Covid diagnosis
Questions about the president’s health are still swirling following the refusal of doctors or aides to reveal when Trump last tested negative for coronavirus, and today’s lunchtime in-person event – just six days after he left Walter Reed medical center following a three-night stay – appears to counter his own government’s health guidelines over large gatherings and social distancing.
But after another tumultuous week in which Trump lost further ground to his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, and with the 3 November general election little more than three weeks away, the president is seizing an opportunity to try to reposition himself in the race, despite the apparent health risk to attendees from a man likely to still be contagious.
In a Friday night interview on Fox News, Trump, who was given a cocktail of antiviral drugs and strong steroids during his hospital stay, insisted he was “medication-free”.
“We pretty much finished, and now we’ll see how things go. But pretty much nothing,” Trump said when Fox medical analyst Dr Marc Siegel asked the president what medications he was still taking.
Earlier in the day, Dr Sean Conley, Trump’s personal physician, issued a letter clearing the president to return to in-person campaign events, but omitting any medical justification, including crucial information about any negative coronavirus tests.
In the Friday interview, Trump said he had been tested, but gave a vague answer about it. “I haven’t even found out numbers or anything yet,” he said. “But I’ve been retested and I know I’m at either the bottom of the scale or free.”
Trump’s speech today at the White House South Lawn will address “law and order” and protests around the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd and racial issues, sources revealed on Friday.