Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who heads Donald Trump legal challenges contesting his loss in last month’s election, contracted Covid-19.
Mr. Trump announced that his close associate had tested positive for “the Chinese virus” on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.
“Get Rudy well soon, we’ll continue !!!” he said in the same tweet. The president added that Giuliani had worked “tirelessly” to denounce what the president described without evidence as “the most corrupt (by far!) Election in US history.”
Mr Giuliani has acted as the main advocate for the Trump campaign’s unsubstantiated allegations of widespread fraud in last month’s presidential elections. He himself appeared in court and made repeated statements of electoral corruption on national television, but judges largely dismissed the charges.
Mr Trump did not say when Mr Giuliani contracted the disease and whether he was symptomatic. At 76, he is in a higher risk category. The president’s call to “continue” seems to suggest that Mr. Giuliani would not remain involved in the handling of Mr. Trump’s legal challenge.
The White House declined to comment and the Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
Mr Trump has drawn repeated criticism for not taking Covid-19 seriously. The president and his supporters have largely avoided masks, drawing calls from public health experts, including those drafted to help the White House coronavirus task force.
Mr Giuliani has been seen repeatedly without a mask in meetings across the country on behalf of Mr Trump’s legal efforts at the height of the coronavirus record peak.
Mr. Giuliani, who visited Arizona, Michigan and Georgia in recent days to make his legal case floundering, is only the latest in the White House’s orbit to contract the disease, which has killed more than 270,000 Americans. On Friday, the infection rate hit a new record, at 224,831 new daily cases, including more than 101,000 in hospital, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, close adviser Hope Hicks, First Lady Melania Trump and former adviser Kellyanne Conway are among those close to Mr Trump who have tested positive for the disease.
Mr Trump – who himself was hospitalized with coronavirus at the height of his own campaign – went maskless at his first public rally on Saturday since his election defeat. He has said repeatedly that he is now immune, a claim not supported by public health experts.
“A lot of people are already vaccinated because it’s called, ‘You. . . caught it, and you’re immune, ”he told cheering crowds in Georgia, which saw record levels of new cases last week.
The FDA is due to approve the first vaccines on Thursday, with senior Trump administration officials saying vaccinations could start rolling out 24 hours later. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Sunday that the United States could release 40 million doses of the vaccine before the end of the year.