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Attorney General Merrick Garland tests positive for Covid

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announces enforcement actions against Russia, during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., April 6, 2022.Elizabeth Frantz | ReutersAttorney General Merrick Garland tested positive for Covid on Wednesday, just hours after speaking in person at a news conference alongside FBI Director Christopher Wray and other top Biden administration officials.Garland, who is not symptomatic, asked to be tested for the virus after learning he may have been exposed, the Department of Justice said in a statement. He is fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid and will work from home while isolating for five days, the department said.The attorney general is not considered to be a close contact of President Joe Biden, a DOJ official told CNBC. Biden’s most recent Covid test, taken on Monday, came back negative, the White House told reporters later Wednesday.Garland’s positive test comes after several people in Biden’s orbit, including press aides Jen Psaki and Karine Jean-Pierre, had Covid in recent weeks. The virus has also affected Vice President Kamala Harris: her communications director Jamal Simmons tested positive for Covid and Harris is considered a close contact, her office said Wednesday. Harris will follow CDC guidance and continue with her public schedule, according to her spokeswoman Kirsten Allen. Garland over the weekend reportedly went to a white-tie dinner attended by hundreds of politicians and journalists, a growing number of whom have since tested positive for Covid.Another attendee in Biden’s Cabinet, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, tested positive earlier Wednesday.Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas and Adam Schiff of California, who were also at the dinner, announced their own positive Covid test results on Tuesday.U.S.Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Justice Department on April 06, 2022 in Washington, DC. U.S.Anna Moneymaker | Getty ImagesThe Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner Saturday night hosted more than 600 political elites and media figures who flocked to the four-star Renaissance Hotel in downtown D.C.The traditional event features high-profile figures — including U.S. presidents — cracking political jokes usually aimed at other lawmakers and the press.An annual event that has been held in various forms for more than a century, the Gridiron dinner Saturday night was the first one to be held since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.The Gridiron Club did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment earlier Wednesday regarding Raimondo and other attendees testing positive for Covid.Asked whether Biden has been near anyone who attended the Gridiron dinner, a White House official told CNBC its policy is to disclose when someone who later tests positive for Covid has had close contact with the president. Garland’s previous meeting with Biden was a week earlier at an outdoor signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, the official said.The attorney general on Wednesday revealed an indictment charging Konstantin Malofeyev, a Russian oligarch accused of funding separatist efforts in the Crimean peninsula, with violating U.S. sanctions.At that news conference, Garland was flanked by Wray, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and other senior Biden administration officials, raising concerns about Covid exposure among the top brass of U.S. national security.”FBI Director Wray is aware of Attorney General Garland’s positive COVID-19 test today. At this time, the Director is experiencing no symptoms,” the FBI told CNBC in a statement. “Director Wray, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, will continue to follow CDC guidance and take all necessary precautions.”Also joining Garland were Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicholas McQuaid, FBI Cyber Section Chief Philip Frigm and Klepto Capture Task Force Director Andrew Adams.Less than a week earlier, CIA Director William Burns tested positive for Covid after meeting with Biden in a meeting described by the agency as “socially distanced.”Burns was not considered a close contact to the president and wore an N-95 mask during their meeting, the agency said.— CNBC’s Amanda Macias and Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.

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