Trump’s national security adviser has the virus

click to enlarge National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, shown at the White House in Washington, on Oct. 18, 2019, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House said on Monday, July 27, 2020, making him the most senior White House official known to have contracted the virus. - ERIN SCHAFF/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Erin Schaff/The New York Times
National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, shown at the White House in Washington, on Oct. 18, 2019, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House said on Monday, July 27, 2020, making him the most senior White House official known to have contracted the virus.
By Michael Crowley
The New York Times Company


President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the administration said Monday.

The administration said that O’Brien, 54, “has mild symptoms” and is working remotely from “a secure location off site.”


“There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president,” it said.

O’Brien is the most senior White House official known to have contracted the virus. He typically works from a West Wing office just steps away from the Oval Office and, under normal circumstances, may see the president several times a day.

It is unclear when he was last in physical contact with Trump, although he joined the president on a July 10 trip to Florida.

Speaking to reporters before departing the White House on Monday afternoon, Trump said he had heard about O’Brien but did not know when he had tested positive. “I haven’t seen him lately,” the president added.


O’Brien also traveled to Paris in mid-July, where he met with several European security officials, visited a U.S. war cemetery and attended a Bastille Day celebration. It was unclear whether had become infected before or after that trip. The White House statement did not provide further details.

A photograph of O’Brien in Paris with his counterparts from Britain, France, Germany and Italy shows the men standing nearly shoulder to shoulder without masks, and O’Brien and others are not wearing masks in images of his ceremonial stops released by the White House.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, said O’Brien believed he contracted the virus from his daughter.

Senior White House aides are tested regularly for the virus, as is Trump.

O’Brien assumed his job in September, succeeding John Bolton, who resigned after mounting conflicts with the president over foreign policy.


He is the latest of several White House staff members and others in the president’s orbit who have tested positive for the coronavirus. They include a military officer who works as a presidential valet at the White House, as well as Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, both of whom tested positive in early May. Last week, the White House closed two cafeterias in its extended complex after an employee tested positive.

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