Trump holds pandemic-time Cabinet meeting in White House with no designated survivor

Before his high-profile meeting, the president visited Capitol Hill where he had lunch with GOP senators who were not tested before seeing him

                            Trump holds pandemic-time Cabinet meeting in White House with no designated survivor
Donald Trump (Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday, May 19, held a Cabinet meeting in the White House to discuss his administration's handling of the coronavirus with all his advisers present and accounted for. The incident made national headlines because no designated survivor was left out of the gathering which has been held at the time of a national pandemic. More than 1.4 million people have been hit by the coronavirus in the US, the highest in any country, and its death toll is fast approaching the six-figure mark. 

The line of succession was, however, not insecure. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President pro tempore of the Senate Chuck Grassley follow Vice President Mike Pence to take over as the country's chief executive if the situation so arises. Neither Pelosi nor Grassley was present at the high-profile meeting. Yet, the gathering in the East Room raised questions since the general practice is to leave out one Cabinet-rank official from large gatherings of government officials, something that happens every year at the State of the Union address. The idea is to secure the continuity of the government in case a disaster hits. 

GOP senators did not undergo test before meeting Trump

The day saw a busy schedule for Trump as he attended the cabinet meeting after visiting the Capitol Hill to have lunch with GOP senators who, however, were not tested before assembling with Trump to eat. It was just days ago that a few White House aides tested positive for coronavirus following which Trump was made to undergo a test again. He is taking the test every day now and revealed this week that he is also taking hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for over a week now. Most of the senators, however, wore masks as they approached the president for the meeting. The Hill's physician conceded that there were not adequate tests to cover all the senators. Trump was not wearing any mask.

President Donald Trump with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Roy Blunt at Capitol Hill on March 2020 (Getty Images)

The meeting saw the presence of White House Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, presidential advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Counselor to the president Hope Hicks and others. 

Mnuchin shows coronavirus stimulus prepaid cards

At the meeting, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin showed Trump the new coronavirus stimulus prepaid debit cards and gave the latter a sample card with his name written on it. The cards will be sent out to Americans who do not have bank accounts or have not given the IRS details of the accounts. "We now have developed debit cards. In an effort to expedite money to people even quicker in a very safe way, I'm pleased to show you what a debit card looks like with your name on it, Mr President," he said, adding: "We think debit cards are a safe and secure way of delivering refunds."

Speaking to the media after his address, Trump defended his use of HCQ. When a reporter pointed out the FDA’s caution that HCQ should not be used outside of a hospital setting or outside of a research study, Trump disagreed to say: "There was a false study done where they gave it to very sick people — extremely sick people, people that were ready to die. It was given by, obviously, not friends of the administration. And the study came out. The people were ready to die. Everybody was old, had bad problems with hearts, diabetes, and everything else you can imagine. So they gave it. So, immediately, when it came out, they gave a lot of false information, just so you understand."

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