Several former aides have revealed that they tried to stop Donald Trump from talking at the coronavirus task force press conference on 23 April 2020, where he encouraged health officials to study the benefits of injecting bleach to fight Covid-19.
During the press conference last year, Mr Trump spoke about recent updates he and his team had received from the task force about research on how to treat the virus, before turning to talk about bleach.
“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” the president asked officials during the press conference.
“You see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number [on the] lungs, so it would be interesting to check that,” he continued, appearing to refer to the disinfectant idea. “We’re going to have to use medical doctors, but it seems interesting to me,” Mr Trump added.
A senior health official, under questioning from reporters later, confirmed that federal laboratories were not considering or trying to develop such a treatment option.
Speaking to Politico in the days before the one year anniversary of the widely mocked and roundly condemned incident, former-aides said that they attempted to stop the then president from addressing reporters that day.
The aides said that in the morning before the press conference, Mr Trump was briefed on the most recent findings on the virus, which had only been in the country for around two months, but they felt he had not properly taken the information in.
As Mr Trump walked through the White House to talk to reporters, “a few of us actually tried to stop it in the West Wing hallway,” one former senior White House official told Politico.
“I actually argued that President Trump wouldn’t have the time to absorb it and understand it. But I lost, and it went how it did,” they added.
During the press conference in April 2020, Mr Trump also spoke about the possibility of using “ultraviolet or just very powerful light”to treat Covid-19, which he suggested could be used through the skin or “inside the body”.
Another former official claimed to Politico that Mr Trump’s remarks about the disinfectant and ultraviolet light became a running joke during his last few months in office.
“People joked about it inside the White House like, ‘are you drinking bleach and injecting sunlight?’ People were mocking it and saying, ‘oh let me go stand out in the sun, and I’ll be safe from Covid,” they said.
The former aide added: “It honestly hurt. It was a credibility issue … It was hurting us even from an international standpoint, the credibility at the White House.”
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden also mocked the comments, while speaking during a roundtable discussion with Black essential workers on the public health crisis in the US.
“I think there’s a growing awareness that, you know, injecting bleach into your system doesn’t do it for you,” the Democrat said.
He added: “I’m being serious. I mean think about all the ridiculous things, and there is online still there are those who are the vaccine ... deniers, and telling all these stories about it that aren’t true.”
The Independent has contacted the Trump organisation for comment.