More Trump aides test positive for COVID as Biden says second debate should be cancelled

Another two of Donald Trump’s top aides have tested positive for coronavirus, joining a growing list of the US president’s inner circle who have contracted COVID-19.

They are White House adviser Stephen Miller, who revealed his diagnosis in a statement on Tuesday, and assistant press secretary Jalen Drummond, whose positive coronavirus test was reported by NBC News.

Mr Miller’s statement said: “Over the last five days I have been working remotely and self-isolating, testing negative every day through yesterday. Today, I tested positive for COVID-19 and am in quarantine.”

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White House senior adviser Stephen Miller
Image:White House senior adviser Stephen Miller has tested positive for coronavirus

Mr Miller, 35, is also Mr Trump‘s speechwriter, while Mr Drummond has become the fourth White House press aide to contract the virus after a source confirmed his diagnosis to NBC.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and deputies Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt had already confirmed that they had tested positive.

It comes as Mr Trump’s election rival Joe Biden said their next planned head-to-head debate on 15 October should be cancelled as long as the president remains positive for coronavirus.

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The Democratic presidential challenger said he was “looking forward to being able to debate him”, but “we’re going to have to follow very strict guidelines”.

Mr Biden – who tested negative for COVID-19 on Tuesday, having also tested negative following the president’s diagnosis last week – told reporters after a campaign event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: “I think if he still has COVID, then we shouldn’t have a debate.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden
Image:Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said the next live TV debate with Donald Trump should be called off if the president still has COVID

Mr Trump returned to the White House on Monday after three nights at the Walter Reed Military Center in Maryland, tweeting that he was “feeling really good” and “looking forward to the debate” in Miami.

While the president remains infectious and in quarantine, he appears to be working through his illness.

On Tuesday evening, Mr Trump instructed his aides to stop negotiating on another round of COVID relief – intended to shore-up the country’s pandemic-stricken economy – until after the 3 November election.

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Trump: ‘Don’t let it dominate you’

In a series of tweets, Mr Trump accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of “not negotiating in good faith” and said he had asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to instead direct all his focus before the election on confirming his Supreme Court nominee – Amy Coney Barrett.

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” the president tweeted.

However, hours later, Mr Trump appeared to contradict his earlier messages and called on Congress to send him a “Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200)” – a reference to a pre-election batch of direct payments to most Americans that had been a central piece of the talks between Ms Pelosi and the Trump administration.

“I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?,” Mr Trump wrote.

He also called on Congress to immediately approve $25bn (£19.4bn) for airlines and $135bn (£104.7bn) for the Paycheck Protection Programme to help small businesses.

Mike Pence v Kamala Harris - How their views compare

Mike Pence v Kamala Harris – How their views compare

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Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger, Senator Kamala Harris, are poised to meet for their own televised debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night.

The president’s COVID-19 infection and subsequent health concerns have made the event – usually a low-key affair that has little impact on the race for the White House – more significant for voters and observers.

You can watch the Vice Presidential Debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris on Thursday at 2am live on Sky News and Sky News online

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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