Trump on the Front Lines: Big Bet on Virus Drug Gets Personal
May 21, 2020

Trump on the Front Lines: Big Bet on Virus Drug Gets Personal

Judicial Watch has been closely following the saga of President Trump and the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HC). We get a lot of mail on the subject. We’ve long considered it a bold gamble and a winning bet. On Monday, the president took it to another level, announcing that he himself had been taking the drug.

Heads promptly exploded across the liberal universe. Nancy Pelosi denounced the president for being “morbidly obese” (he’s not) and “taking something that has not been approved by the scientists.” Longtime Trump antagonist Joe Scarborough called the president a liar, saying he is “not taking hydroxychloroquine.” Chuck Schumer said he did it “to divert attention from all the bad things happening.” Medical professionals rushed in. Trump was setting an “irresponsible” example, said Dr. Scott Solomon of Harvard Medical School. There are “serious hazards” to HC, said Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic. You get the idea.

Yesterday, the president said he would soon stop taking HC, but point made—and it’s a good one. Trump correctly views himself as a frontline leader in the battle against Covid-19. That’s the context for understanding his latest move.

The key word is “frontline.”

Here’s what Trump said about HC on Monday:

“You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers, before you catch it. The frontline workers, many many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it…. Frontline workers take it. A lot of doctors take it. I take it.”

See his full remarks here. Trump repeatedly returns to the theme of HC as an aid to frontline personnel—doctors, nurses, emergency workers, cops, firefighters—and as a prophylactic. He notes that HC can be effective “especially early on” in the course of the virus. It shows promise “as a preventative.”

And in fact there are numerous examples from around the globe indicating that HC might benefit frontline personnel and help fight the early stages of the virus. A recent NYU study, for example, found promising results. We noted in an earlier report that Turkey has thrown HC at everyone with the virus and claims a death toll lower than the global average. In March, India approved HC for its frontline personnel. Our mailbox at Judicial Watch is filled with accounts from frontline personnel about the positive impact of HC.

The Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and many other organizations have warned about dangerous possible side effects to HC, including serious heart issues. These are important warnings. And other studies have found no benefit from the drug or are inconclusive.

But this is life in wartime and an existential threat to the Trump Presidency. As we’ve noted before, the HC episode plays to some of Trump’s most successful political instincts: his preference for non-traditional channels, distrust of experts, deregulatory impulses, showmanship, and use of the media. It will be months, if not years, before the scientific consensus is settled on the use of HC in the battle against Covid-19.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Trump’s bold gamble on HC is still paying off. On Monday, he pushed a big pile of chips to the center of the table and came up a winner.


Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips:

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