Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. Though he was among several of Pence’s aides who contracted the virus, Short’s diagnosis was particularly startling given all the ways he had openly dismissed the severity of COVID-19.
Complaining About “Mask-Shaming”
After Pence delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in front of a mostly mask-free crowd in August, Short accused MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson and the rest of the media of being mean to the vice president by pointing out how hardly anyone in the audience wore face coverings.
“I do think because the vice president gave such a strong speech and laid out such a stark difference, it’s no surprise that the media wants to focus on mask shaming this morning,” he said.
Disparaging Dividers At The VP Debate
Prior to Pence’s debate with vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris on October 7, Short had expressed disdain for the Commission on Presidential Debates’ (CPD) decision to place plexiglass between the two candidates after President Donald Trump contracted COVID-19. He also jabbed at Harris for wanting the divider in the first place.
“If [Harris] wants it, she’s more than welcome to surround herself with plexiglass if that makes her feel more comfortable,” Short told the Washington Post. “It’s not needed.”
Hanging Around At Pence’s Debate Sans Mask
Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) tweeted a photo of himself with Short, Pence, and Marty Obst, one of Pence’s top advisers, at the vice president’s debate. None of the four men are wearing masks in the picture.
Additionally, Obst was one of the other Pence aides who was revealed to have tested positive for COVID-19 this weekend.
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) October 8, 2020
Pressuring Junior White House Aides To Dig Up Trump-Friendly Data On COVID-19
Olivia Troye, a former Pence staffer who was part of the White House COVID-19 Task Force chaired by the vice president, told the New York Times and CNN last month that over the summer, Short had tasked junior aides on Pence’s team with finding statistics showing that younger people are less affected by the virus than the rest of the population. He had done so to bolster Trump’s politically motivated efforts to reopen schools, according to Troye.
Making ‘Jokes’ About Anti-COVID Measures
After news of Short’s diagnosis broke, Troye told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on Sunday that the chief of staff was “the number one person to act like COVID wasn’t real.”
Short would make “jokes” about masks, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines on reopening businesses, according to Troye.
“He would joke about the CDC’s latest effort to stop Americans from going to work,” she said.