Reports said Trump wanted “to make a dramatic exit” from the hospital by exiting through the golden front doors of the facility on camera, Bloomberg News reported.
Camera lights were erected on the steps just outside the building along with a security perimeter where reporters were gathered.
Before leaving, the president reportedly shot a video inside. After leaving the hospital in an SUV, he was taken to Marine One for the short flight back to the White House.
The president’s helicopter touched down on the South Lawn about 6:54 p.m. Moments later, the president walked up the steps of the South Portico alone, then took off his mask and stood for several minutes, posing for photographs while waving and saluting as Marine One took off again.
White House aides were reportedly not sure the president would follow a plan to avoid the Oval Office upon his return.
Multiple areas inside the residence, including the Map Room, were being prepared for the president to work, according to reports.
About an hour and a half before leaving the hospital, Trump tweeted about the daily closing on Wall Street.
“STOCK MARKET UP BIG, 466 Points! 28,149. Great News for America. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!”
Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted the news of his departure before a scheduled 3 p.m. media briefing led by Trump’s physician, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley.
Conley said the president is continuing to do well and his team of physicians approved the transfer. The president received his third dose of Remdesivir and was scheduled to have one more before leaving the hospital. Trump will undergo a fifth coronavirus treatment at the White House on Tuesday.
“We send patients home with medication all the time,” Conley said, adding the president had made all of his discharge benchmarks Sunday. Conley said there is nothing that can be done at Walter Reed “that can’t be done at the White House.”
Conley said he was “not at liberty to discuss” Trump’s lung scans while he was hospitalized, citing medical privacy laws. He added the president would have “world-class medical care” at the White House and will continue to receive dexomethosone, a steroid with possible side effects.
Ahead of the president’s return to the White House, Vice President Mike Pence left Washington en route to Wednesday’s debate in Salt Lake City. Before boarding Air Force Two, Pence said he spoke to the president, who told him to go to Utah.
In light of recent events, the Commission on Presidential Debates has approved a plan to keep the contestants separated by plexiglass, according to Politico.
When asked whether Trump could return to the campaign trail, Conley said, “as far as travel goes, we’ll see.”
Trump said he was still planning to participate in the Oct. 15 debate with Joe Biden in Miami, according to CNN.
Shortly before noon Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she had tested positive for the coronavirus and is beginning the quarantine process.
About an hour later, White House assistant press secretaries Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt reportedly also tested positive for COVID-19.
Shortly before 8 a.m., White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he had spoken with his boss earlier in the morning. Meadows told Fox News that Trump is continuing to improve “and is ready to get back to a normal working schedule.”
“This is an important day as the president continues to improve and is ready to get back to a normal work schedule,” Meadows said.
Trump began the fourth day of his Walter Reed Medical Center hospitalization with a barrage on Twitter, attempting to refocus the nation on his reelection campaign and away from the fact that he had contracted the coronavirus.
On Sunday, Trump’s team of physicians said the president has remained without a fever since Friday.
Trump began tweeting shortly after 6:15 a.m. Monday and then followed with a barrage of a dozen more tweets, averaging one a minute, touting his support for the Space Force, law and order, religious liberty and the military, among other issues.
On Sunday, Trump briefly left Walter Reed Medical Center to salute supporters outside the hospital from his motorcade. While his brief period outside the hospital drew the ire of one Walter Reed attending physician, White House officials said the trip had been cleared by doctors.
No first-term president running for reelection has suffered such a serious health setback so close to an election. Trump’s hospitalization has refocused the election to where Democrat Joe Biden wants it: on Trump’s leadership throughout the pandemic. The Republican president, the first lady and several senior Republicans are infected.
Over the weekend, Trump’s campaign team announced plans to dispatch Pence and Trump’s family to key swing states after Wednesday’s vice presidential debate to help the campaign regain momentum. It’s unclear, however, how the plan dubbed “Operation MAGA” differs from the campaign’s previous strategy. The president’s top surrogates have been active on the campaign trail for months.
Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris are still set to face off Wednesday night in Utah for the only vice presidential debate. Trump’s health status makes the typically lower-profile affair more consequential.