Bedminster Bedlam Becomes the Center of Somerset County’s Battleground

Howes, left, and Schaffer.

Even while being treated with experimental drugs and steroids for Covid-19, President Donald Trump downplayed the Coronavirus in a tweet on Monday, saying, “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

The President sent out the Tweet before he was discharged from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where his doctor, Sean Conley, said Trump won’t be out of the woods for at least another week.

Still, the President, wearing a mask, didn’t look concerned as he made his way out of the hospital, surrounded by Secret Service agents, giving the thumbs up and a fist to reporters and supporters as he entered the Presidential vehicle. He then headed to Marine One, which took him back to the White House, where he removed his mask right before walking inside.

At least 210,000 people have died of the Coronavirus in the United States, including more than 16,000 in New Jersey. But despite the national tragedy, Mr. Trump insisted on Twitter, “We have developed under the Trump Administration some really great drugs and knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

“We’ve been back-and-forth and he’s never pushed us in recommending anything that’s not safe,” said Dr. Conley, who refused to answer basic questions about the President’s lung capacity and the last time he tested negative for Covid-19.

The Trump hospital discharge drama unfolded live on television, as doctors and political analysts criticized him, saying his behavior put White House staff and Secret Service agents at risk.

Earlier in the day, similar condemnation from Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who announced his Attorney General would be investigating Mr. Trump’s fundraiser Thursday at the President’s  Bedminster Country Club. It’s where the 74-year-old met with donors even as close aide Hope Hicks tested positive for the Coronavirus. Hicks and Trump had traveled together earlier in the week, including to Tuesday’s Presidential Debate.

“It is clear the President came to New Jersey recklessly and came to New Jersey after having come in contact with someone who tested positive,” said Murphy during his daily Coronavirus briefing. “Additionally, reports suggest the event did not comply with our rules and regulations. To put it bluntly, this event has put people at risk.”

The President’s doctor was asked about the fundraiser and responded, “It wasn’t until after he (Trump) returned that we knew the news of the day.”

More than 200 donors to Trump’s re-election campaign attended the Somerset County fundraiser at Trump National Golf Club. The news of Hicks’ positive test didn’t come from the White House but rather released by intrepid reporters.

The President spoke to Fox News late Thursday night, saying he was waiting on test results. Then, at around 1 o’clock Friday morning, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter he and the First Lady had tested positive for the Coronavirus.

Somerset County Republican Chair Tim Howes, who wasn’t at the Bedminster fundraiser, says he has no information indicating the President knew he had the Coronavirus before coming to New Jersey.

“Frankly, Governor Murphy is grandstanding again,” Howes said. “I think the health concerns are being handled locally. He’s (Murphy) using this for political purposes.”

Murphy clarified New Jersey’s investigation to CNN’s Jake Tapper, saying, “The AG (Attorney General) in our state is looking into it. The event was an indoor event. We have (Covid-19) strict rules. No buffet food lines. We feel that was violated.”

Murphy says it’s too early to determine if Somerset County will face a Covid-19 outbreak as a result of the fundraiser but insists the Attorney General’s investigation isn’t political. He urged anyone, who attended the Bedminster fundraiser, to self-isolate and get tested within 5 to 7 days of the event.

“Even a negative test within that window should not override (the need) to self-quarantine within the 10 days,” Murphy added, echoing CDC guidelines. “We certainly hope and pray no cases come out of Bedminster.”

Members of the President’s inner-circle, who have now tested positive for the Coronavirus, have relied


on Covid-19 tests, meeting without masks and refusing to social distance. So far, at least 19 people connected to the President have tested positive for the Coronavirus, including former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien, who was also Christie’s campaign manager during the scandalous George Washington Bridge Lane Closures. Christie, who checked himself into a hospital because he suffers from asthma, told ABC News no one wore masks or social distanced during several days of preps leading up to last Tuesday’s Presidential Debate.

Republicans are concerned the West Wing Covid-19 outbreak could affect GOP political races in New Jersey.

“It affects my election,” said Howes, referring to two Republican candidates (incumbents Brian Gallagher and Brian Levine) running in Somerset County’s Freeholder race. “Democrats want to put a mop of Trump’s hair on my candidates rather than focus on the issues. They have no plans. I personally don’t have any information that Trump knew he would be putting people in danger.”

While Howes says he and his two candidates didn’t attend the fundraiser, Rik Mehta, a Republican running against incumbent U.S. Senator Cory Booker, did.

Mehta said he didn’t plan on self-quarantining after the event, prompting Governor Murphy to tell, “I don’t even know who Rik Mehta is. I think that statement should disqualify him from seeking public office.”

Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer – who’s backing freeholder challengers Doug Singeterry and Paul Drake – tells InsiderNJ she’s appalled at how Republicans have conducted themselves, adding, “We need to express our outrage at the ballot box.”

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