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White House: ‘No risk of exposure’ to Trump after national security adviser positive for COVID-19

In this file photo, US National Security advisor Robert O'Brien attends the 14th East Asia Summit in Bangkok on November 4, 2019, on the sidelines of the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. O'Brien has tested positive for COVID-19, making him the highest-ranking member of President Trump's inner circle known to have contracted the disease. (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has tested positive for COVID-19 days after attending a family function, White House officials said Monday.

Robert O’Brien, Trump’s fourth national security adviser, is the highest-level U.S. government official known to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began.

One of the president’s top advisers with a corner office in the West Wing, the national security adviser typically comes in regular contact with the president. But since attending a family gathering roughly a week ago, O’Brien has worked away from the White House and has not had contact with either the president or Vice President Mike Pence, sources said.

“National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien tested positive for COVID-19,” the White House said in a statement. “He has mild symptoms and has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site. There is no risk of exposure to the President or the Vice President. The work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak became apparent in March, several other White House officials have tested positive. Pence’s press secretary tested positive just before boarding a plane with the vice president. One of Trump’s personal valets in the West Wing tested positive for the virus in May.

At a briefing with reporters last week, Trump said he is tested regularly, while those that come into close proximity with him — including senior staff and reporters — are routinely tested.

“I do take probably, on average, a test every two days, three days,” Trump said. “And I don’t know of any time I’ve taken two tests in one day, but I could see that happening.”

Both Trump and Pence are traveling on Monday, with the president in North Carolina and the vice president in Miami.


© 2020 McClatchy Washington Bureau

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