Secret Service Director James Murray on Thursday defended approving former President Trump‘s decision last October to ride in a motorcade and wave to supporters while recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after testing positive for COVID-19.
Mr. Murray said officials approved the motorcade right after “extensive conversation” with medical professionals.
“Ultimately the decision was that it could be achieved,” Mr. Murray said in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee where he appeared to discuss the Secret Service‘s fiscal year 2022 budget request.
The two Secret Service agents who rode with Mr. Trump wore the same level of protective gear as the workers at Walter Reed hospital, Mr. Murray said.
During his stay at Walter Reed, Mr. Trump briefly ventured outside in a motorcade to wave to cheering supporters. Mr. Trump was seen through the window of an SUV wearing a face covering and waving to supporters.
The move was slammed by one of the attending physicians at Walter Reed.
Dr. James Phillips, a doctor of emergency medicine at George Washington University, at the time blasted the drive-by as “insanity.”
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” he wrote on Twitter. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater.”
“The irresponsibility is astounding. My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play,” Mr. Phillips wrote.
In response to the criticism, White House spokesman Judd Deere told The Associated Press that Mr. Trump‘s trip was cleared by the medical team “as safe to do.”
Mr. Deere told the outlet in October that precautions were made, including the use of personal protective equipment to protect the president and Secret Service agents.