Robert C. O’Brien, Trump’s NSA director, has COVID-19 – Los Angeles Times

National security advisor Robert O’Brien has tested positive for COVID-19, the White House announced Monday, making him the highest-ranking member of President Trump’s inner circle known to have contracted the disease.

O’Brien’s test, announced shortly before positive tests for the Miami Marlins called the already abbreviated Major League Baseball season into question, served as a reminder that Trump, who spent months dismissing and downplaying the coronavirus, has been unable to escape its impact.

Although the U.S. economy is mired in a recession and many virus-stricken states have at least partially shut businesses that had been allowed to reopen, Congress and the Trump administration have struggled to extend federal relief programs that expire on Friday.

After days of infighting, Senate Republicans promised to release their economic rescue proposal Monday afternoon, a critical step in reaching possible agreement with Democrats before the deadline. For now, the two sides remain far apart.

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Trump’s attempts to push back against the raging pandemic and return to business as usual have been thwarted by the harsh realities of the spreading contagion.

He was forced last week to cancel the in-person portion of the Republican National Convention, scheduled for Aug. 24-27, and he has not staged large campaign rallies since coronavirus cases spiked in Tulsa, Okla., after a Trump rally there last month.

The latest shock came as the Miami Marlins announced an outbreak among players and coaches, forcing Major League Baseball to postpone two games and raising questions about the rest of the baseball schedule.

Trump had urged professional sports leagues to resume their seasons, seeing sports as signs of normalcy. To try to limit outbreaks, Major League Baseball has held games without fans and has banned high fives, fist bumps and spitting among players.

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School systems and workplaces are also facing challenges as they attempt to safely reopen. Google announced Monday that it would let employees work from home through at least next summer.

The failure to adequately confront the outbreak has severely undercut Trump’s political fortunes. With more than 147,000 reported deaths from COVID-19, the United States is far outpacing the rest of the world in fatalities despite its historic advantages in science, medicine and wealth.

“We are the global hotspot for this pandemic,” said Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “It’s very hard to protect anyone. None of us is safe. And we have obviously brought this upon ourselves through our policies that have consistently ignored science and evidence.”

On Monday, Trump was planning to discuss the virus after touring a biotech facility in North Carolina, a state he would most likely need to win reelection. He has trailed former Vice President Joe Biden in recent polls there, including a 7% margin in an NBC News/Marist poll released Monday.

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Trump’s trip was partially overshadowed by the latest case in the White House. In an unsigned statement, White House officials said O’Brien’s symptoms were mild and that he had “been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site.”

The statement said there was no risk of exposure to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence and that the work of the National Security Council “continues uninterrupted.”

The statement did not say how recently O’Brien, who normally meets regularly or travels with the president, had been with Trump or other senior White House or national security officials.

Nor did it say where and when O’Brien might have been exposed and when he received his test results. Trump’s top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, told reporters at the White House that O’Brien may have gotten it from his daughter, who also tested positive.

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Given O’Brien’s level of access and influence, the positive test raises concerns about national security and the potential spread to Trump and other top officials.

“This is a guy who walks into the Oval Office to tell the president what the latest crisis is and what needs to be done. He’s not going to be able to do that” while working from home, said Leon Panetta, a former defense secretary, CIA director and White House chief of staff under presidents Clinton and Obama.

Typically, the national security advisor would brief the president at least once a day, though Trump generally receives fewer briefings than his predecessors. O’Brien also conducts regular meetings with Pentagon and intelligence chiefs.

“There are a lot of key people that that person comes into contact with, all of which I’m sure are asking themselves whether the hell they’ve got it or not, including the president, who is probably getting a dozen more tests,” Panetta said.

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O’Brien was a Los Angeles lawyer before he was named Trump’s fourth national security advisor last September.

Several White House aides, including Katie Miller, Pence’s communications director, tested positive in May, as did one of Trump’s valets, a member of the Navy who serves the president meals and performs other personal tasks.

One of the White House cafeterias closed last week after a member of the staff tested positive, according to reports.

“You cannot protect people in an organization, in a company, in a school if you’re in a community with out-of-control outbreaks,” Jha said. “It will seep in. It’s like you’re in the middle of a forest fire and you’re trying to keep your home protected.”

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiaWh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmxhdGltZXMuY29tL3BvbGl0aWNzL3N0b3J5LzIwMjAtMDctMjcvdHJ1bXAtbmF0aW9uYWwtc2VjdXJpdHktYWR2aXNvci10ZXN0cy1wb3NpdGl2ZS1jb3ZpZC0xOdIBAA?oc=5

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