President Trump’s national security adviser has tested positive for coronavirus but it was unclear how much contact he has had with the president, the White House confirmed.
Bloomberg reported Monday Robert O’Brien, 54, contracted the virus after a family event and has been working from home. He traveled to Europe earlier this month where he met with counterparts to discuss China and other issues. In Late June, he traveled to Arizona.
The White House said O’Brien’s symptoms are mild.
“There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president. The work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted,” a White House statement said.
O’Brien, who succeeded John Bolton, is the highest-ranking White House employee to test positive for the virus. Also testing positive was Katie Miller, an communications aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump’s personal valet, as well as a Marine assigned to Trump’s helicopter crew and members of the Secret Service. A White House reporter and a cafeteria worker also tested positive in recent weeks.
Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guyilfoyle, also tested positive.
O’Brien deputy Matt Pottinger took steps in March to limit a potential outbreak among National Security Council staff by dividing it in half and mandating they work from different offices.
Under O’Brien, the NSC has shifted from developing U.S. policy to finding ways of justifying and implementing Trump’s positions, the New York Times reported. The NSC was established in 1947 to advise the president.
O’Brien is the fourth person to occupy the national security adviser position under Trump and is considered a loyalist. He has said he’s trying to rebuild the NSC into an apolitical organization that can referee the competing views of the Pentagon, State Department, intelligence agencies and Treasury, and cut policy positions among career NSC staff by more than a third to streamline operations.
O’Brien, whose West Wing office is near both the Oval Office and Pence’s, and senior NSC staff are tested daily for the virus.
As of Monday morning, more than 16.2 million Americans had tested positive for coronavirus and COVID-19 had killed nearly 147,000, the Johns Hopkins tracking projected indicated.