Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien tests positive for COVID-19, White House confirms

Trump and O'Brien, U.S. national security adviser, work in close proximity.

July 27, 2020, 5:17 PM

Robert O'Brien, President Donald Trump's national security adviser, has tested positive for COVID-19, making him the highest profile Trump official to contract the novel virus, the White House confirmed.

"National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien tested positive for COVID-19. He has mild symptoms and has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site. There is no risk of exposure to the President or the Vice President. The work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted," the White House said in a statement Monday morning.

Trump responded to the news Monday afternoon while departing the White House for a North Carolina facility involved in producing a potential coronavirus vaccine.

"I haven’t seen him lately. I heard he -- he tested. Yeah. I have not seen him. I’m calling him later," Trump told reporters.

President Donald Trump arriving at Miami International Airport on July 10, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
SMG via ZUMA Wire

Trump said he didn't know when O'Brien first tested positive.

It comes as new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge across the American South and West.

It's unclear how O'Brien, 54, was exposed to the coronavirus or how much in-person contact he's had recently with Trump. Their last public appearance together was on July 10 during a visit to the U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

Administration officials close to the president are regularly tested for COVID-19, and Trump receives rapid coronavirus tests on a daily basis, according to the White House.

O'Brien was last seen at the White House on Thursday, multiple sources told ABC News. However, it's still unclear as to when he was last with the president. It's also not clear when O'Brien first tested positive.

When someone who works in the White House complex tests positive for COVID-19, the White House management office usually sends out an email to all staff. In this case, many White House staffers were caught off guard -- learning from news reports -- that a senior adviser who works in the West Wing had tested positive, according to sources.

National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien attends a briefing on Enhanced Narcotics Operations at the US Southern Command in Doral, Florida, on July 10, 2020.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

O'Brien's National Security Council office in the White House is near the Oval Office and Vice President Mike Pence's West Wing office.

He is the highest-ranking official close to the president to contract the virus -- but he's not the first person connected to the Trump administration to test positive for the coronavirus.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is dating the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for the coronavirus while in South Dakota ahead of Trump's Mount Rushmore event in early July.

Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, wife to the president's senior adviser Stephen Miller, also tested positive in May.

Also in May, a U.S. military service member who works at the White House campus and serves as a valet to the president -- bringing him his lunch among other service items -- also tested positive for COVID-19.

President Donald Trump's new national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, speaks to reporters with the President at LAX airport on Sept. 18, 2019.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images, FILE

Dozens of Secret Service officers and agents who were on site for Trump's June rally in Tulsa were ordered to self-quarantine last week after two of their colleagues tested positive.

At least eight of the president's campaign staffers have also tested positive -- two of them getting positive results after attending the Tulsa rally, the Trump campaign confirmed to ABC News.

There have been 16.2 million cases of the coronavirus worldwide since the pandemic began earlier this year, with 146,935 deaths in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Will Steakin contributed to this report.

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