CLAIM: President Donald Trump’s campaign sent an email asking supporters to donate as he recovers from COVID-19.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The email was fabricated. The campaign did not create or send it, according to the campaign’s communications director.
THE FACTS: Posts with the fabricated fundraising appeal circulated on social media after Trump tweeted early Friday that he and wife, Melania, had tested positive for COVID-19. The letter was created with a Trump-Pence logo similar to that used by the campaign.
The campaign’s communications director Tim Murtaugh confirmed to the AP that the message was fabricated. “It’s fake and should not be taken seriously,” Murtaugh said in an email.
“Friends,” the letter begins. “By now you have heard the news. President Trump and the First Lady has tested positive for the China Virus. The next few weeks will be difficult for Americans from all across the nation and we ask for your thoughts and prayers. He appreciates your unwavering support during this time and wants you to know that it has not gone unnoticed. President Trump would like to ask a favor. Will you please DONATE to help him recover from this disease? It is only fair since he has sacrificed millions of dollars to serve as your President. Help us reach our goal of 421 million to ensure our President will recover to serve another 4 years! He is fighting for all of us.”
Several social media users posted the fabricated letter, believing it was authentic. “This is sinister and insulting.#TrumpCovid,” one Twitter user posted along with a screenshot of the false message. Later, the user posted a tweet with a correction.
Another Twitter user wrote, “If anyone accuses Democrats of playing politics today with the President’s health remind them it took the Trump campaign about an hour to put out a fundraising email seeking donations based on the President contracting the virus.” The post had over 3,000 retweets.
The White House said Friday that President Donald Trump was suffering “mild symptoms” of COVID-19, the AP reported. He was described as being in good spirits and working in the family quarters though the announcement of his illness threw the country deeper into uncertainty just a month before the presidential election.
Trump tweeted the news about the positive test about 1 a.m. EDT, hours after he confirmed that Hope Hicks, one of his most trusted and longest-serving aides, had been diagnosed with the virus on Thursday. Earlier in the day, he had attended a political fundraiser after learning about Hicks’ diagnosis, and the crowd was not told he had been exposed to the virus.
The disease has killed more than 205,000 Americans and more than a million people worldwide.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536