Trump signs a blank piece of paper and Twitter users have questions

The White House wants to give the appearance that Trump is hard at work, despite being hospitalized for coronavirus

The White House is receiving the side-eye after the Trump administration released a photo on Saturday showing a hospitalized President Donald Trump signing his name with a marker to an apparently blank piece of paper.

The administration released photos showing the former reality TV star, who has been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside of the nation’s capital since Friday, hard at work from the hospital’s presidential suite, which is equipped to allow him to continue his official duties.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s senior aide, shared one of the images on her Twitter page, saying: “Nothing can stop him from working for the American people. RELENTLESS!”

Jon Ostrower, the editor-in-chief of an aviation publication, tweeted two separate pictures of the president that showed him working in different rooms. He explained that the pictures were “taken 10 minutes apart at 5:25:59 pm and 5:35:40 pm ET Saturday, according to the EXIF data embedded in both @AP wire postings that were shared by the White House this evening.”

Both tweets drew criticism from social media users as their replies reveal ongoing skepticism about what is being presented to the public about Donald Trump’s condition since testing positive for coronavirus on Thursday.

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“Nothing can stop him from a staged photo op,” TV personality Lea Black said in a reaction to Ivanka Trump’s post. 

Scrolling through the replies to Ivanka Trump’s tweet, author Lynn Comella can be found saying

Some of the criticism is being directed at Ivanka’s tweet, with author Lynn Comella writing, “Oh honey. Everyone can tell this is a very sick man propped in a chair for the purpose of staged White House propaganda. Go hug your kids and get off twitter.”

Ostrower’s tweet prompted many wannabe sleuths on Twitter to conclude that the images had been staged by the White House, with several commenters mocking the president for simply signing a blank piece of paper using a black Sharpie.

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“Not a huge surprise that these photos are staged – and I’m amused by those pointing out that if you zoom in he’s just signing a blank sheet of paper – but it’s genuinely appalling that he still won’t wear a mask,” historian Alex von Tunzelmann tweeted. “I hope his vanity hasn’t caused the photographer to be infected.”

Trump was flown to the tri-service military medical center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Friday after he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the potentially deadly COVID-19 contagion.

In a televised briefing on Saturday morning, Trump’s doctors said he was “doing very well” and in “exceptionally good spirits,” Newsweek reports. But by Sunday morning, “staged” was trending on Twitter in response to #SharpieGate. 

Trump’s reelection campaign said it was putting all events featuring the president and members of his family on hold, but that Pence would resume campaigning since he tested negative.

Trump was last seen by reporters returning to the White House on Thursday evening and did not appear ill. He is 74 years old and clinically obese, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has infected more than 7 million people nationwide.

As of Sunday morning, there were more than 209,000 U.S. deaths connected to the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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