The cinematic-like scenes attracted incredulity from commentators, many of whom mocked what was unfolding on TV networks across the country, and drew comparisons to fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who frequently gave rabble-rousing speeches from a balcony in Rome.
“This is a Mussolini moment,” MSNBC commentator Joy Reid remarked.
“Donald Trump… looks like he has makeup on which means someone had to get close enough to make up his face with his favourite orange patina.”
The comparison to the 20th century dictator extended across the political divide, with Mr Trump’s ex-communications director Anthony Scaramucci tweeting: “American Mussolini is going to lose.”
But the US President’s cheerleaders seemed to think the comparison was a compliment.
Right-wing America First host Nicholas Fuentes raged: “America Media seething because they were hoping Trump would die or be significantly weakened/diminished by the coronavirus and instead he emerges looking stronger than ever before. MUSSOLINI MOMENT B****.”
Supporters of the Republican president rallied round to agree, with Mr Fuentes’ tweet amassing nearly 5,000 likes.
But other Twitter users were quick to point out a less convenient truth. “Someone hasn’t read to the end of his Mussolini biography,” remarked UK media pundit Owen Jones.
After years of cruel rule over the Italian people, Mussolini was deposed and brutally executed by partisans in northern Italy in the final days of World War Two.
Actor Stephen Mangan pointed out on Twitter: “Mussolini moment? Trump’s been shot in an alley, corpse thrown into the back of a van, driven to Milan, hung upside down in a petrol station and stoned?”
Director Peter Ramsey jibed: “They really never watch to the end of the movie, do they.”
Stanford University fellow Marietje Schaake kept it simple: “Trump fans are embracing and celebrating him as a fascist.”
Other commentators drew similar authoritarian comparisons. CNN White House reporter Stephen Collinson said Mr Trump’s return to the White House saw “scenes that would not have been out of place in totalitarian North Korea”.
Mr Trump was hospitalised for three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday, weeks before the US election on November 3.
The 74-year-old is still understood to be on steroids after two “worrying” dips in his oxygen levels last week and appeared to struggle to breathe momentarily on his return, prompting speculation he was prematurely discharged.