In his week playing the rambunctious COVID patient, Trump has posted several videos designed to show that he is in tip-top shape, though they may have undermined his intentions. This presidential trend hit its apex to date on Thursday night, when Trump — who called himself a “perfect physical specimen” on Fox Business Network that morning — called in to Hannity to cough and lash out at Democratic targets.
While anyone who is a week into their coronavirus quarantine should be granted the space for a few coughs in a phone call with a close friend, it wasn’t Trump’s respiratory interruption that stood out in his conversation with Sean Hannity. The president — forever embattled, constantly sparring — seemed particularly hostile during the interview. He claimed that Virginia governor Ralph Northam “executed a baby.” He attacked Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer for not thanking him after the FBI foiled a militia plot to kidnap her. He condemned Democrats in California for routing “millions of gallons” of drinking water into the Pacific Ocean to help “certain little tiny fish that aren’t doing very well without water.” Under such leadership, America would soon become a “ninth-world country.”
On to more pressing matters, Trump then refused to answer if he has tested negative for the coronavirus yet and went on to plot out a busy weekend schedule for a septuagenarian coming off a week in quarantine. “I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night if we can, if we have enough time to put it together,” he said. “But we want to do a rally in Florida, probably in Florida on Saturday night, might come back and do one in Pennsylvania, on the following night.”
Though the president’s physical health has been obscured all week by doctors who have not answered relevant questions about his well-being, the Fox News appearance, together with a report from the New York Times, suggest that a week in soft quarantine hasn’t been great for the president’s mental health. While the Hannity interview found Trump upset with Democratic leaders, earlier in the day, he expressed his frustration with those in his own orbit in interviews with Fox Business Network, as the Times details:
The president castigated his own team, declaring that Attorney General William P. Barr would go down in history “as a very sad, sad situation” if he did not indict Democrats like Mr. Biden and former President Barack Obama. He complained that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had not released Hillary Clinton’s emails, saying, “I’m not happy about him for that reason.” And he targeted Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director. “He’s been disappointing,” Mr. Trump said …
Mr. Trump has often argued that his political antagonists should be prosecuted, but in this case, he went further by indicating that he had directly pressured Mr. Barr to indict without waiting for more evidence. “He’s got all the information he needs,” the president said. “They want to get more, more, more, they keep getting more. I said, ‘You don’t need any more.’”
While the president is not known for his tendency to say nice things about people, the quality and quantity of his Thursday comments suggest a difficult time in relative isolation. And, as the Times notes, the coming days might not breeze by either: “Experts said resuming a public schedule might worsen Mr. Trump’s condition, which could still rapidly deteriorate in the next several days. COVID-19, an unpredictable disease, can suddenly and unexpectedly worsen during a patient’s second week of illness.”