From multiple credible sources: Trump knew about the looming pandemic in January, and studies done in 2017 and 2019 pointed to how poorly prepared the US was to fight a pandemic. And Trump did nothing. And now….
Trump’s Web of Lies & Dissembling Endanger Millions of Americans
“If people would have known about it, it could have been stopped in place,” Trump said at a White House news conference on Thursday, March 19. “It could have been stopped right where it came from, China, if we would have known about it, if they would have known about.”Donald Trump
Today, we dissect the myriad of missed opportunities and the world view of a president who denies science, ignores experts and, places the blame everywhere but where it belongs.
On Thursday, Trump called COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” offending Chinese leadership and reiterating Sen. Tom Cotton’s view that China should be “held accountable” for the virus — anything but to admit that the reason the virus is spreading rapidly in the US is not due to China, but due to our lack of readiness, lack of early response, lack of test kits, lack of ventilators and hospital beds, lack of critically needed hospital and testing supplies, and since the beginning, a total lack of leadership.
It is clear that Trump is doing all he can to deflect attention from his administration and its total bungling of the response. And the facts are catching up with him as a new report from the TruthDig reveals that in January 2017 the Obama administration conducted a simulation based on the Ebola virus and gave the reports to the Trump administration. This simulation warned of the need to ramp up to prepare for the virus and predicted an inability to ramp up a quick response. If these reports were read, they were not heeded. And Thursday when asked why the US was not better prepared, Trump responded: “Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion. Nobody has ever seen anything like this before.” It gets worse.
In a separate report, the NY Times went on to point out how many of the deficiencies identified in the Obama projections are now precisely what are limiting our capacity to respond to COVID-19. Under the code-name “Crimson Contagion” the US conducted a series of pandemic modeling exercises that predicted with precision exactly what would transpire should a pandemic surface.
That scenario, code-named “Crimson Contagion,” was simulated by the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services in a series of exercises that ran from last January to August. The simulation’s sobering results — contained in a draft report dated October 2019 that has not previously been reported — drove home just how underfunded, underprepared, and uncoordinated the federal government would be for a life-or-death battle with a virus for which no treatment existed.’NY Times: “Before Coronavirus a Cascade of Warnings Went Unheeded”
Maybe someone with the experience and expertise in pandemic response could have gotten Trump to take the Oct 2019 report seriously. But in May 2018, when National Security Council member Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer resigned (as so many Trump appointees ultimately do), Ziemer was never replaced. The White House global health security team, which he led, was disbanded soon after Ziemer left, under a reorganization by national security adviser John Bolton. The global health security team might have been able to bring to Trump’s attention how badly we were prepared. And even if these experts were ignored by Trump before the outbreak, when the outbreak began in China, they could have forced the president to address the outbreak earlier and more effectively.
Well, according to a Washington Post report, the US intelligence community did try to warn Trump in the early days of COVID-19 emerging in China, but were rebuffed:
U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, according to U.S. officials familiar with spy agency reporting. ‘Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,’ the official noted to the Post. ‘The system was blinking red.’ ”Washington Post: “US intelligence warned Trump in January and February as he dismissed coronavirus threat”
The Post goes on to describe how as early as January 3, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said officials had been alerted to the initial reports of the virus by discussions that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had with Chinese colleagues.But Azar wasn’t able to obtain even a call with the President until Jan 18. Yes, with an epidemic out of control in China, the Secretary of Health & Human Services can’t even get a call with the President for over two weeks. And when Azar finally gets a call in and tries to alert the President of the looming coronavirus threat, Trump interrupted to ask about when flavored vapes would be back on the market. The Post report goes on to note other top Trump advisers persisted in pressing the president, to no avail.
Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, argued that the administration needed to take the virus seriously or it could cost the president his reelection, and that dealing with the virus was likely to dominate life in the United States for many months. Mulvaney then began convening more regular meetings. In early briefings, however, officials said Trump was dismissive because he did not believe that the virus had spread widely throughout the United States.Washington Post: “US intelligence warned Trump in January and February as he dismissed coronavirus threat”
As Nero fiddled, other advisers began to press the president.
By early February, Grogan and others worried that there weren’t enough tests to determine the rate of infection, according to people who spoke directly to Grogan. Other officials, including Matthew Pottinger, the president’s deputy national security adviser, began calling for a more forceful response, according to people briefed on White House meetings. But Trump resisted and continued to assure Americans that the coronavirus would never run rampant as it had in other countries.”Washington Post: “US intelligence warned Trump in January and February as he dismissed coronavirus threat”
“I think it’s going to work out fine,” Trump said on Feb. 19. “I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus.”
“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump tweeted five days later. “Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
So at a time when the intelligence community, his national policy advisers, the CDC and the Secretary of Health & Human Services were all begging the president to take action, Trump, as he so often does, went on his own misinformed hunches, putting millions of Americans at risk.
TruthDig is unsparing in pointing the finger precisely at Trump and his administration for being unable to defend America from this virus.
In 2018, he [Trump] weakened the country’s ability to respond to pandemics when he decided to dismantle a National Security Council directorate at the White House charged with preparing for them. His Interior Department failed to update a pandemic plan that was first prepared over a decade ago. His administration failed to restock the Strategic National Stockpile, America’s store of medical supplies, which include the face masks that are in such dire need by doctors, nurses and health professionals at the front lines of the pandemic. Those supplies were depleted during the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 and were never replenished: Millions of masks in the stockpile are now past their expiration dates.”TruthDig: “If Trump Declares Martial Law Due to Coronavirus, Can He Suspend the Election?”
Last week, when asked about why the White House has been slow to respond Trump responded that the question was “nasty” and called the reporter “a terrible reporter.”
Over the past week, I’ve read dozens of COVID-19 reports and all point to the critical importance of a proactive and well-coordinated effort led by the White House, that states and local communities simply don’t have the resources themselves. But unfortunately, our nation is led by a President who prefers to create a fictitious reality in which he is the all-knowing, all-seeing leader, who knows everything about everything because he had a “very smart uncle.”
When told bluntly that a vaccine would not be ready for at least 12 months, he scrunches his face and tells us it can be done by November (wonder why he picked that month). When told that treatment trials had achieved very mixed results, he tells the nation we are close to some very promising treatments. He lives entirely in the moment, wanting the spotlight to reveal him has the savior, unworried about when tomorrow his trumpeted test expansion doesn’t occur, the vaccine does indeed take a year, and the treatments are in the distant, as he is perfectly happy to recreate a new reality then, a new reality that Fox will broadcast uncritically as the gospel according to Trump. And, as only Trump can do, despite a mountain of examples of his blissful ignorance, Trump now proclaims that he always knew this would become a pandemic.
And so in a leaderless nation, it is incumbent upon us to behave responsibly, to counter his disinformation, and to be grateful for a NM Governor who is among the leaders in mandating social isolation policies that can at least help to flatten the curve. I leave you with a letter from the coronavirus below.
Paul & Roxanne