When Donald Trump was in hospital being treated for COVID-19, his doctor skirted around the truth about the US President’s health.
It’s been revealed that Mr Trump was pushing ideas for controlling the message about his battle with coronavirus. He wanted to be seen as Superman – and, yes, that involved dressing as such.
Now, days after his return to the White House, the president isn’t wearing a cape but his latest claims make it sound as if he is super-human.
On Monday morning (Australian time), Mr Trump declared on Fox News that he had been deemed immune from the coronavirus.
But scientists don’t know yet how long immunity lasts or how reliable it is.
Australian researchers said in August they know that other coronaviruses (including Sars, Mers and some cold viruses), don’t produce a lasting immune response.
And, they wrote, studies of COVID-19 show that even in hot spots where there have been large numbers of cases and deaths in the last few months, less than 10 per cent of the population show evidence of an immune response.
Nevertheless, Mr Trump is confident he is safe and won’t pass on his illness, suggesting he can recommence his public campaigning.
“It does give you immunity,” he told Fox, although he acknowledged it’s unclear how long immunity lasts.
“Immunity means something, a protective glow.”
Mr Trump repeated the claim on Twitter, which led to the social media giant censoring the post and declaring it risked spreading “misleading and potentially harmful information” about COVID-19.
The White House is yet to release details of the president’s coronavirus tests or prove he is negative.
On Sunday, close-up photographs showed the president had bandages on his hand. That raised questions about whether Mr Trump was, in fact, still ill and requiring treatments intravenously.
During his three-day stay in hospital, where he was administered with three different COVID treatments, the world’s most high-profile coronavirus patient kept busy planning his exit from the Walter Reed military hospital.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Mr Trump wanted to trick observers into believing he was a physically weak man upon being discharged.
His plan was to suddenly rip open his button-down shirt to reveal a Superman T-shirt underneath.
Mr Trump floated the idea in several phone calls, but his plan never eventuated, it reported.
It’s not the first time a leader has wanted to come dressed as Superman.
On Halloween in 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed as the superhero’s alter ego, Clark Kent.
He had on a blue suit and upon coming down the stairs of the House of Commons, he slowly opened his shirt buttons to expose the famous Superman symbol.
At 74, Mr Trump might not have cut quite the same figure in such an outfit. Ask him, though, and he’s a “perfect physical specimen” who is “extremely young” and now immune to the coronavirus.
On Sunday, the President kept up his strong-man appearance as he held his first public event since returning to the White House.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2020
When Mr Trump addressed the crowd, the status of his health was still unclear.
It later released a letter from the President’s physician, Dr Sean Conley.
“Now at day 10 from symptom onset, fever-free for well over 24 hours and all symptoms improved,” Dr Conley wrote.
“By currently recognised standards, he is no longer considered a transmission risk to others.”
Speaking from a balcony without a mask and amid lingering questions about his health, Mr Trump addressed the hundreds of supporters gathered on the lawn.
“I want you to know our nation is going to defeat this terrible China virus,” Mr Trump told the crowd, adding that the coronavirus is “going to disappear” and that it is already “disappearing”.
“Science, medicine will eradicate the China virus once and for all.
“The vaccines are going to help and the therapeutics are going to help a lot.”
Left-Right protests, clashes
The gathering of a few hundred Americans was called “a peaceful protest for law & order”.
The White House rejected suggestions it was a campaign rally, but Mr Trump did take the opportunity to launch further verbal attacks on his rival Joe Biden.
“If the left gains power they’ll launch a nationwide crusade against law enforcement – and they’ve already done that,” he said.
“The homes and churches and businesses of black and Hispanic Americans have been looted … they’ve been vandalised and burned by left-wing fanatics.
“Yet Biden likes to call them peaceful protesters.”
The gathering was followed by yet more violence connected to protests in the lead up to the November 3 presidential election.
A man in Denver was shot dead during duelling protests by left-wing and right-wing groups in the mountain city’s downtown.
Police immediately arrested a suspect they said was working as a private security guard for a local TV station’s news crew.
An NBC News affiliate, KUSA-TV, confirmed on its website the man arrested for the shooting was on its payroll.