The Busy Week When the President Met the Virus


Later that evening, after a quick flight to Middletown, Pa., for a campaign rally, Mr. Trump lashed out at Mr. Biden as rain steadily fell on the president and the enthusiastic crowd. Flanked by huge television screens that read, in all capital letters, “Fill the seat,” he crowed about Judge Barrett and boasted about beating Mr. Biden in the coming debate.

A White House reporter on the flight would later test positive for the virus.

Back at the White House on Sunday, Mr. Trump and Ms. Hicks huddled with a handful of other aides and advisers, none of whom wore masks, for debate preparation in the Map Room.

The group sat around a long table, with a vacant seat between Stephen Miller, the president’s speechwriter and top domestic policy adviser, and Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, who led the preparations. Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and the former mayor of New York, joined one of the sessions, which lasted several hours, and sat in the vacant seat.

Mr. Trump faced Mr. Christie, and there was a television screen over the president’s left shoulder on which they played video clips for him to watch.

On Monday, the group moved the session into the Oval Office. Ms. Hicks sat on the couch. And on Tuesday, they gathered again for a few hours in the Map Room, prepping the president for the debate that evening.

Before the debate, White House officials who had been in close touch with Mr. Trump and Ms. Hicks headed to Capitol Hill to introduce Judge Barrett to senators. Vice President Mike Pence, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, posed for photographs in the Mansfield Room with Judge Barrett and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.



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