The one question Trump won't answer about his viral infection

One question, six officials, five days, zero answers: When did Donald Trump last test negative for the coronavirus?
Image: US-VOTE-HEALTH-VIRUS
President Donald Trump takes off his face mask as he arrives at the White House upon his return from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for Covid-19 on Oct. 5, 2020.Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images

There was a surprising moment during Donald Trump's Fox News interview last night, when Sean Hannity asked the president about his health. When the host specifically inquired about Trump being tested for the coronavirus, the president replied that he'd seen his doctors earlier in the day. Hannity quickly followed up, asking, "Did you test negative?"

If Trump heard the question, he chose to ignore it. In the same interview, the president added, "[T]here's no reason to test all the time. I didn't go into it greatly with the doctors."

Oh. So, the sitting president of the United States was recently hospitalized with a life-threatening virus, but when it comes to the state of his infection, the Republican doesn't see the need to "go into it greatly" with the team of physicians responsible for his care.

Of course, the mystery isn't limited to whether Trump is still testing positive. Just as important, if not more so, is when he last tested negative. As the Associated Press reported overnight:

The White House, meanwhile, continued to decline to share when Trump last tested negative for the virus -- which would help pinpoint when he was infected. Strategic communications director Alyssa Farah said that information was Trump's "private medical history."

In speaking to reporters, Alyssa Farah suggested that she had the information, but wanted to keep it secret. "I can't reveal that at this time," she said.

It was part of an extraordinary pattern. On Saturday, Dr. Sean Conley, Trump's White House physician, refused to say when Trump last tested negative. A day later, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh MeEnany also wouldn't say. Conley dodged the same question the day after that.

As the week progressed, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also refused to say when the president's last negative test was. The same day, White House Deputy Communications Director Brian Morgenstern told reporters, "We're not asking to go back through a bunch of records and look backwards." Yesterday, Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, also wouldn't answer the question.

For those keeping score, that's six officials who refused to answer -- some of them, more than once -- this simple question over the course of five days.

As Rachel noted on the show last night, for months, the White House had no qualms about telling the public, with great regularity, about the president's negative tests. Now, however, it's considered a secret.

Why? The rationale, evidently, is a secret, too.

The answer matters for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is understanding whom the president may have infected. Did Trump have the coronavirus at last week's debate? Or at the recent rally in Minnesota? Or at the fundraiser in New Jersey? Or at White House events on Sept. 26 and 27?

As a rule, when members of Team Trump act like they have something to hide, it's because they have something to hide.

Update: If you missed MSNBC pressing Hallie Jackson pressing White House Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern on this earlier today, it's well worth your time.