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Trump will host another White House gathering for Amy Coney Barrett even though the 1st one became a COVID-19 superspreader event

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/26/2020 insider@insider.com (Eliza Relman)
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump speaks as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (R) listens prior to Trump's Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House July 29, 2020 in Washington DC, for a campaign trip to Texas. Alex Wong/Getty Images © Alex Wong/Getty Images President Donald Trump speaks as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (R) listens prior to Trump's Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House July 29, 2020 in Washington DC, for a campaign trip to Texas. Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • The White House will host a celebratory event following Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation vote on Monday evening. 
  • Barrett's September 26 Rose Garden nomination ceremony, which included a maskless crowd, became a COVID-19 superspreader event. 
  • Chief of staff Mark Meadows insisted on Monday that the Trump administration is working to "defeat" COVID-19, despite telling CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday that "we're not going to control the pandemic."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Monday morning that the White House will host a celebratory event following Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court — even after her nomination gathering became a COVID-19 superspreader event.

Meadows said the event would be held outdoors on Monday evening "if it goes off as planned right now," and that the White House would "do the best we can to encourage as much social distancing as possible."

The president, first lady Melania Trump, GOP Sens. Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former top White House aide Kellyanne Conway, University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins, and a White House reporter all tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the September 26 Rose Garden gathering Trump hosted to announce Barrett's nomination. Few of the approximately 150 attendees wore masks as they sat close together, hugged, and shook hands. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert who's helped lead the government's coronavirus response, said, "Well, I think the data speaks for themselves. We had a superspreader event in the White House and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks."

In all, nearly three dozen people in Trump's orbit were infected by the coronavirus in the days that followed. 

On Monday, Meadows insisted that the Trump administration is working to "defeat" COVID-19, despite telling CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday that "we're not going to control the pandemic" because "it is a contagious virus, just like the flu." And Meadows mocked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for wearing a mask, a mitigation technique Trump and the White House have consistently dismissed. 


Video: Trump: ‘The pandemic is ending’ (The Washington Post)

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"The only person waving a white flag, along with his white mask, is Joe Biden," Meadows said on Monday after critics accused the administration of abandoning a national pandemic response. "We're going to defeat the virus, we're not going to control it. We will try to contain it as best we can." 

Critics and Democrats quickly attacked Meadows' comments on Sunday. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called the remarks "stunning" but not surprising. 

"This wasn't a slip by Meadows," Biden said in a statement. "It was a candid acknowledgement of what President Trump's strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn't, and it won't."

Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, said the Trump administration is "admitting defeat," on Sunday.

"This is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of America," she added. 

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and top adviser, attempted to reframe Meadows' headline-grabbing comments in a Fox News interview on Monday morning. 

"We definitely have some challenges, but President Trump's approach is we're gonna defeat the virus and we're gonna get our country back to a stronger place than ever before," he said. 

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