WASHINGTON: U.S. national security adviser Robert O’Brien has become the highest ranking official in President Donald Trump’s inner circle to test positive for the coronavirus.
Announcing the infection on Monday, the White House said in a statement there was no risk of exposure to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.
The White House statement said that O’Brien’s symptoms were mild, that he was self-isolating and that he was working from a secure location off site. It said the work of the National Security Council would continue uninterrupted.
The announcement caught some White House staff off guard, as there had not been an internal memo about it, one source said. Because of the regular testing regimen, White House officials do not reliably wear masks while working in the West Wing.
Asked about O’Brien, Trump told reporters he had not seen the adviser lately and did not know when he had tested positive.
An administration official said O’Brien, 54, had not had contact with the president in several days. Another said he had last been at the White House last week.
Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters it was apparently a light case, adding “I believe his daughter had caught it before him.”
O’Brien, who took over as national security adviser from John Bolton last September, had traveled to Paris in mid-July to represent the United States at Bastille Day ceremonies. He met French President Emmanuel Macron while there.
O’Brien was joined on the trip by deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, among other aides and a small group of reporters, an administration official said.
A U.S. military member who works as a presidential valet at the White House tested positive for coronavirus in May as did Pence’s press secretary.