Donald Trump makes first public appearance since Covid hospital stay
Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore
President Donald Trump has made his first public appearance since returning to the White House after being treated for coronavirus.
The White House has refused to declare that he is no longer contagious, and the gathering of hundreds of people on the South Lawn went ahead despite the guidance of public health officials.
President Trump delivered an address on his support for law enforcement from the Blue Room balcony to a friendly crowd.
The president wore a mask as he walked out for the speech but took it off to make his remarks. He received an enthusiastic response from his supporters.
“I’m feeling great,” said President Trump, who said he was thankful for their good wishes and prayers as he recovered.
The president is also priming for a Florida rally on Monday and campaign events in Iowa and Pennsylvania later in the week.
The president addressed the large crowd even as the White House refuses to declare that he is no longer contagious and against the guidance of public health officials.
The White House insisted the event on the South Lawn was an official event and not a campaign rally. But President Trump used the address to make broadsides against the Democratic ticket of former vice president Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris.
“I think we’re gonna swamp them by so much,” he said.
President Trump appeared healthy, though perhaps a little hoarse, during the 18-minute speech that was intended to send the message that he is back and ready to resume his battle for re-election.
Before the speech, White House officials said they had no information to release on whether the president was tested for Covid-19, meaning he made his first public appearance without the White House verifying that he is no longer contagious.
Security was stepped up around the White House before the event, which was called a “peaceful protest for law and order”.
Police and the Secret Service closed surrounding streets to vehicles and shut down Lafayette Square, the park near the White House that has long been a gathering place for public protest.