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'A Brazen Invitation': Democrats Deliver Well Wishes And Criticism For Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is second in the line of succession, tested negative for the coronavirus on Friday.
Jacquelyn Martin
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is second in the line of succession, tested negative for the coronavirus on Friday.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

Along with well wishes for a speedy recovery, Democratic lawmakers are lodging some criticism at President Trump following his positive coronavirus test.

"We all received that news with great sadness," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC. "I always pray for the president and his family that they're safe."

"This is tragic, it's very sad, but it also is something that going into crowds, unmasked and, all the rest, was sort of a brazen invitation for this to happen," Pelosi said, adding that she hoped the news would be a message to others to follow guidelines for avoiding the spread of the virus.

First lady Melania Trump and senior Trump aide Hope Hicks have also tested positive.

Pelosi was tested Friday morning by the Capitol Office of the Attending Physician and was negative, according to her spokesman Drew Hammill.

Two Republican senators — Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina said they have tested positive for the coronavirus. Lee and Tillis were both at the White House on Saturday to meet with Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett. They were photographed without masks. Both are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Let us all just pray for the president's health. Thank God the vice president has tested negatively and the second lady as well," Pelosi said.

Pelosi said about the negotiations on a coronavirus relief bill, "This kind of changes the dynamic," adding, "they're seeing the reality as we've been saying all along."

She said she was in touch with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, whom she has met with and who notified her early Friday morning he tested negative.

The speaker, who is second in line of succession after the vice president, said she hasn't talked to anyone in the White House about any plans and downplayed the issue, saying that "continuity of government is always in place."

"Maybe this will be the moment where people will say, 'OK, masks, distances, sanitation, tracing, treatment.' "

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he wished the president and first lady a "speedy recovery" and echoed some of Pelosi's criticism of the president's pandemic response.

"What happened to President Trump is a reminder of why the whole country, including senators and staff, must follow the science and follow the protocols laid out by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and public health officials."

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he spoke to Trump Friday morning. He said that the president is in "good spirits" and that they talked about Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation process.

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are expressing hopes for a quick recovery.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tweeted, "Ann and I wish the President and First Lady a swift and complete recovery. Our prayers are with them and all the others who have been afflicted with illness."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted, "Praying for a full and speedy recovery for@POTUS &@FLOTUS"

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who at age 87 is the second oldest member of the Senate, is president pro tempore of the Senate, which is third in the line of succession to the presidency. A spokesman says Grassley "will continue to follow guidance from the Senate's attending physician, the CDC and local health officials. We are not aware of any exposure to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Sen. Grassley continues to take precautions to defend against contracting the virus."

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted that "There will be a lot to say about this, but let's start here: The President and the First Lady have a serious, deadly virus and we should all hope for a full recovery."

Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips sent his good wishes for the Trumps but also expressed concern for residents of his Minnesota district. Trump held a fundraiser and rally in Minnesota on Wednesday. Phillips tweeted that "COVID-19 is a serious and unpredictable disease, and I wish the President, First Lady, and Hope Hicks a speedy recovery. I also have those in my district in Minnesota who may have been exposed on my mind."

Other lawmakers shared how the disease has affected them and their families. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, tweeted, "My dad, 80, had it and was asymptomatic. My stepmom, 78, got it and died."

Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-Calif., noted that the president "will get treatment other Americans cannot" and that "All Americans deserve the same care."

And Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., took the opportunity to urge people to "continue to remain vigilant — wear your masks, maintain social distance, and wash your hands often."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.