Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski says the two Secret Service agents who drove the president past his supporters outside Walter Reed hospital volunteered and that they were separated by plexiglass – as some agents slammed the move as ‘reckless’.
Trump made the surprise appearance outside Walter Reed hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19 on Sunday afternoon when he was driven by supporters who had turned out with signs, flags and banners.
His appearance prompted criticism from some, including a Walter Reed doctor, who said it was irresponsible of Trump to get into the Presidential SUV with the Secret Service agents and risk infecting them.
The White House has insisted that the journey was safe and was cleared by Trump’s doctors.
Secret Service agents have said President Donald Trump’s hospital drive-by was reckless for putting his security detail at risk of contracting COVID-19. Two agents wore face masks, visors and gowns as they drove Trump past supporters outside Walter Reed on Sunday
In an interview with NBC’s Today on Monday, Lewandowski said: ‘The detail leader of the Secret Service and the driver both volunteered for that assignment.
‘They have very difficult jobs but they were not required to do that, they both volunteered.
Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on Monday that the two Secret Service agents volunteered to drive the president past his supporters outside the hospital and that they were separated by plexiglass
‘There was a piece of plexiglass, I believe, between the president and the two secret service agents in the vehicle.
‘This trip was made with consultation of his physicians. They told him this would jeopardize him or anyone in the vehicle.’
He defended Trump’s decision to go out and thank his supporters.
‘The president wanted to show his supporters how much he appreciated them and show that you can still continue to function with COVID-19. He’s a leader. He wants to lead,’ Lewandowski said.
‘This was the President out thanking his supporters for standing out there and supporting him.’
Trump’s personal lawyer and adviser Rudy Giuliani acknowledged agents would be at risk while protecting the president over the next few days but said: ‘He’s wearing a mask, they’re wearing a mask.’
He also defended the drive-by, saying: ‘The president has to keep the spirits of America up’.
Some Secret Service agents have since described Trump’s hospital drive-by as reckless for putting his security detail at risk of contracting COVID-19 and says the two agents wouldn’t have been able to say no.
An unnamed Secret Service agent, who says he works on Trump’s security detail, told CNN: ‘That should never have happened.’
Trump made the surprise appearance outside Walter Reed hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19 on Sunday afternoon when he was driven by supporters who had turned out with signs, flags and banners
He said the two agents, who were spotted inside the Presidential SUV wearing face masks, visors and gowns, would now need to quarantine given their exposure to the virus.
‘I mean, I wouldn’t want to be around them,’ the agent said.
‘The frustration with how we’re treated when it comes to decisions on this illness goes back before this though. We’re not disposable.’
Another agent said: ‘It was simply reckless.’
One former agent said the two agents wouldn’t have been able to say no to Trump but another sought to downplay the risk to the two agents.
‘It’s ridiculous to say the President is trying to kill off his detail… He’s unconventional, but we get the job done,’ the agent said.
Dr James Phillips, a Walter Reed attending doctor, condemned the president’s Sunday afternoon drive, which violated CDC guidelines.
‘I don’t know what the benefits of this political stunt were, but I do know what the risks were,’ he told ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday.
Trump drove by supporters who had gathered outside the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland while he is being treated for COVID-19
Trump’s supporters waved flags outside the hospital and one could be heard screaming: ‘God bless our president, I will die for him’
‘My concern is that perhaps the Secret Service agents were inside don’t know the full risk of what they were up against.
‘So far as the military and Johns Hopkins physicians who are taking care of this patient, they’re excellent. But they are also under undue pressure and a lot of influence outside of that normal physician-patient relationship.
‘Influence weighs heavy and when we’re dealing with a highly unusual environment like what we’re in right now, the question is – and I’d love to hear the answer from some military physician folks – where does that line between that physician patient relationship come into contact with the commanding officer and subordinate relationship?’
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows slapped down the criticism on Monday in an interview with Fox News.
‘The president expressed appreciation to some of the people outside Walter Reed yesterday. Even that was getting criticism,’ he said.
‘How do we think that he got here? We came in Marine One. The agent who’s been with him… we took additional precautions with PPE.
‘A number of folks are just trying to make a big deal of that when indeed, I know that myself and some of the Secret Service detail are right there with him trying to make sure he’s protected each and every day and that he returns to the White House as expeditiously as possible.’