Jared Kushner reasoned Monday that Vice President Mike Pence is OK to continue traveling to campaign after potential exposure to coronavirus because his aides only have 'benign cases.'
'For the people in the West Wing who have gotten it so far, it's been fairly benign cases,' the president's son-in-law and senior advisor told Fox & Friends when asked about Pence. 'The vice president obviously has great knowledge about the disease and the pandemic and he knows the right protocols to follow.'
Pence has served as the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force since the pandemic hit the U.S. at the beginning of this year.
Although Kushner did not expand on what he means by 'benign cases', he likely is suggesting that the cases in the White House have been largely asymptomatic or otherwise non harmful to those who tested positive.
Five of Pence's aides, including his Chief of Staff Marc Short and his 'body man' Zach Bauer – both of whom the vice president comes in close contact with almost on a daily basis – have tested positive for COVID-19.
The positive diagnoses, however, have not stopped Pence from a rigorous campaign schedule, including traveling to Florida on Saturday, North Carolina on Sunday, planning to rally in Minnesota later Monday and return to North Carolina on Tuesday.
White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (right) told the Fox & Friends panel Monday morning that all the instances of coronavirus in the west wing have been 'benign cases'
The president's son-in-law used this reasoning as an excuse to why it is OK that the vice president continue traveling despite several aides testing positive for COVID-19
'For the people in the West Wing who have gotten it so far, it's been fairly benign cases,' Kushner said. 'The vice president obviously has great knowledge about the disease and the pandemic and he knows the right protocols to follow'
Pence has continued a rigorous campaign schedule, despite five of his aides testing positive for coroanvirus recently. Picture: Vice president campaigning in North Carolina on Sunday
Pence is also expected to attend the vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at the Capitol on Monday evening, despite Democrats pleading with the vice president not to show up out of common 'courtesy' and 'decency' to the elderly senators.
The task force leader will not quarantine, as top officials claim the vice president is an essential worker so he can continue work travel.
'We definitely have some challenges, but President Trump's approach is: We're gonna defeat the virus and we're gonna get our country back to a stronger place than ever before,' Kushner said when asked about White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows saying the White House strategy is not to 'control' the pandemic.
Meadows instead said the strategy is to develop a vaccine and other therapies for treating the disease.
'Here's what we have to do. We're not going to control the pandemic, we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations,' Meadows told CNN's Take Tapper in an interview on 'State of the Union' Sunday morning.
'Why aren't we going to get control of the pandemic?' Tapper asked.
'Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu,' Meadows reasoned.
'Yeah, but why not make efforts to contain it?' the CNN host pushed.
Meadows assured, 'Well we are making efforts to contain it.'
'By running all over the country not wearing a mask? That's what the vice president's doing,' Tapper said, referencing Pence continuing to travel for the reelection campaign.
'Jake, we can get into the back and forth. Let me just say this – is what we need to do is make sure we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it's therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don't die from this,' MEadows said.
Pence will continue to campaign this week, Meadows asserted Sunday in light of aides testing positive.
'Essential personnel, whether it's the Vice President of the United States or anyone else, has to continue on,' Meadows told Tapper.
The CNN host excoriated Meadows on that claim, insisting it's not a valid excuse that Pence is an 'essential worker' because him campaigning isn't doing anything to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Pence's Chief of Staff Marc Short (right) tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday
Marty Obst (right), who has worked with him since 2016, also tested positive for COVID-19
Pence's 'body man' Zach Bauer, who essentially is glued to the vice president's hip, also tested positive
After another interview Sunday morning with Fox News, Meadows briefly spoke with reporters in the driveway of the White House.
When asked about Pence's Chief of Staff Marc Short testing positive for COVID-19, Meadows said, 'We wish him well – he's been quarantining these last few days.'
'Why is Pence traveling – that seems insane?' a reporter shouted to Meadows, as another asked, 'Should anyone who is in close contact with the vice president be quarantining?'
Meadows ignored those questions, but later when asked whether Pence should be traveling, he said, 'He was cleared by the doctors to travel.'
President Trump's chief of staff told CNN during his interview that Pence will be wearing a mask now during his travel, and only take it off while speaking, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Short's diagnosis was first reported on Saturday night by Bloomberg – and Pence's office later confirmed the positive test.
The fact that the White House did not announce the news before it was reported by the media raised eyebrows.
On Saturday night the New York Times also reported that two people briefed on the matter told them that White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had sought to keep news of the outbreak from becoming public.
'Today, Marc Short, Chief of Staff to the Vice President, tested positive for COVID-19, began quarantine and assisting in the contact tracing process,' said Devin O'Malley, Pence's press secretary.
'Vice President Pence and Mrs Pence both tested negative for COVID-19 today, and remain in good health.
'While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the Vice President will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel.'
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN that it's OK for Pence to continue to campaign because he is an 'essential worker' and claims he has been cleared by doctors to travel
On Saturday Pence held two campaign rallies in Florida - one in Tallahassee, and another in Jacksonville.
Short, 50, did not travel with Pence.
Senior political advisor Marty Obst tested positive on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported. Two sources confirmed Obst's test to CNN.
Obst is an outside adviser and not a government employee, and his infection has not been officially confirmed.
The New York Times then reported that three more people were infected, taking the total to five.
Pence's speechwriter Katie Miller became infected in May.
She returned to work three weeks later.
A significant number of White House staff have fallen ill since a September 26 'super-spreader event' at the Rose Garden, to announce Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court.
Among those to subsequently test positive were the president and first lady, their 14-year-old son Barron, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany plus several members of her team, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, and adviser Chris Christie.
It was unclear whether Short or Obst or the other three were suffering from any symptoms.
Short, who like his boss is an evangelical Christian, first worked in the White House as the Director of Legislative Affairs.
From left: Marc Short, Mike Pence, Scott Walker and Pence adviser Marty Obst on October 7
He left in the summer of 2018, but then returned to the administration as Pence's chief of staff in the spring of 2019.
He is considered one of Pence's most important aides, regularly appearing on camera to defend the vice president's positions.
Obst first worked for Pence in the spring of 2016, during his re-election campaign for governor of Indiana.
When, in July 2016, Trump named Pence as his running mate, Obst became his campaign manager and director of operations.