Hindustan Times, Washington

Rudy Giuliani speaks at a news conference in the parking lot of a landscaping company in Philadelphia in November.(AFP file)



Rudolph Giuliani, personal lawyer of Donald Trump, became the newest member of the US president’s inner circle to come down with Covid-19.

President Trump revealed Giuliani’s infection in a tweet saying he “tested positive for the China Virus”, deploying a description of the pathogen he used to shield him from any blame. Giuliani leads the president’s legal and political efforts to challenge his election defeat to Joe Biden.

President Trump indicated those efforts will continue unaffected by Giuliani’s infection, saying “we will carry on”.

Giuliani is 76, is over-weight and a prostate cancer survivor, which taken together would put him in the high-risk category for developing severe symptoms of Covid-19. The former New York City mayor, who had been called America’s Mayor for leading the city’s response to and recovery from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is undergoing treatment at a Washington DC hospital.

In another potential setback for the outgoing president, attorney general William Barr is reported to be weighing his exit from the administration before the end of Trump’s tenure. Once a fierce loyalist, he invited the president’s wrath recently by declaring his department had found no evidence of widespread election fraud, disputing Trump’s claims he was robbed of a second term.

President-elect Joe Biden, meanwhile, is reportedly set to name California’s Hispanic attorney general Xavier Becerra as secretary of health and human services (DHS), which will lead the Biden administration’s fight against Covid1-9.

Trump and his legal team have forwarded baseless allegations of election fraud and malpractices that have been thrown out by courts in all six key states where the president lost the battle for the White House. They are now trying to persuade Republican lawmakers of those states to reject the outcome, using technicalities of the electoral college system.

Giuliani is the newest member of the expanding circle of Trump’s aides, associate and family members to have been infected by the deadly virus, in no small measure because of their refusal to abide by routine social distancing norms.

President Trump himself was infected and hospitalised with a bout of Covid-19 just days after the first of the two presidential debates in October. Melania Trump, the first lady, and their son Barron Trump followed shortly. As did Trump’s eldest son Don Trump Jr, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and Trump campaign officials Bill Stepien and David Bossie (who was assigned by Trump to lead his legal efforts before Giuliani).

The United States has been hit the hardest by the pandemic with more than 14 million infections and 282,000 fatalities and President Trump’s mishandling of the most severe public health crisis — he has strenuously contested that criticism and claimed to have responded adequately —and the economic devastation that followed may have cost him a second term.