The Trump administration pushed to get children back in schools during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic because officials believed ‘everybody is going to get this virus at some point or another,’ a CNN reporter claims.
Pamela Brown, the CNN anchor and senior Washington correspondent who covered the White House during the Trump presidency, made the comment during an interview on Sunday with Scott Gottlieb.
Gottlieb, who served as the head of the FDA during the first two years of the Trump presidency, told Brown that he believed the government should treat COVID-19 as a national security threat because the country lacks the public health infrastructure to deal with outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Brown responded by recalling a conversation she says she had with a member of the Trump White House.
‘I remember one White House official cavalierly saying to me, and this was around the time that then-President Trump was pushing for schools to reopen,’ Brown said.
Pamela Brown, the CNN anchor and senior Washington correspondent who covered the White House during the Trump presidency, said a Trump official told her last year that ‘everybody is going to get this virus at some point or another’
Brown made the comment during an interview on Sunday with Scott Gottlieb, who served as the head of the FDA during the first two years of the Trump presidency
Trump’s policies at the start of the pandemic have drawn scrutiny from Democrats on Capitol Hill
‘They said, “Well, we just need to get kids back in the class because everybody is going to get this virus at some point or another, and it’s going to spread wildly, and there’s no way to contain it.”
‘It stuck with me how casual they were about that, as you just pointed out as one of the issues you didn’t believe was actually true.’
Gottlieb acknowledged in the interview that ‘the political leadership didn’t help’ in developing a ‘consistent message.’
He said the Trump administration could not ‘get the country to agree and get behind collective action on some of the easier things that we could have done to try to mitigate the spread, like wearing masks, vaccination, discouraging people from engaging in certain activities that we knew were risks for spread.’
But Gottlieb also cited conflicting messages from public health officials that he says eroded trust. There were also guidelines that were not ‘grounded in science,’ like the recommendation to stay six feet apart.
‘Public health officials put out guidance that at times wasn’t well-informed and wasn’t well explained,’ Gottlieb said, adding that much of the public will now be skeptical of their guidelines in future emergencies.
Gottlieb was critical of Trump’s inaction and lack of compromise with sending an unified message to Americans at a time of crisis. Pictured is Trump returning to the White House, driven the Secret Service while he was infected with COVID-19
Gottlieb said that while there is much to criticize about the political leadership’s response to the pandemic, he was more concerned about the policymaking at the agency level.
He said the lack of coordination between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA, and the rest of the Department of Health and Human Services hampered the response to the pandemic.
A new book claimed earlier this year that Trump considered quarantining Americans infected with COVID on Guantanamo Bay when the pandemic first started to take hold in February 2020.
‘Don’t we have an island that we own? What about Guantánamo?’ the president asked when White Officials debated where to send US citizens who had the virus in February 2020, according to Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta in Nightmare Scenarios: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History.’
‘We import goods,’ Trump told his staff in the Situation Room. ‘We are not going to import a virus.’
Trump then brought up the idea a second time, forcing aides to quash the plan fearing a backlash over putting members of the public on the same island as terrorism suspects, according to an excerpt published in the Washington Post.
The book details the workings inside the White House before infections began spreading rapidly across the country at the end of February and start of March 2020 and is based off interviews with 180 people.
It also details how Trump allegedly fumed at US infections doubling from 14 to 28 when infected Americans were evacuated from the Diamond Princess and returned home and his anger over the CDC taking over testing.
‘Testing is killing me!’ Trump reportedly shouted in a March 18 phone call to then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
‘I’m going to lose the election because of testing! What idiot had the federal government do testing?’ the president added.
Trump frequently stated during the pandemic that the number of infections in the US were so high because the rate of testing was higher than anywhere else in the world.
‘Uh, do you mean Jared?, Azar responded according to Abutaleb and Paletta.
The phone call came five days after Trump’s son-in-law Kushner took over management of national testing with the help of the private sector.
‘This was gross incompetence to let CDC develop a test,’ Trump told Azar in the heated phone call.
Kushner, according to the book, also called Robert Kadlec, the HHS emergency preparedness chief, a ‘f***ing moron’ when he found out an order of 600 million masks would not arrive in the US until June.
‘We’ll all be dead by June,’ Kushner said.
Mark Meadows also attacked Kadlec when the government was slow in handing out the antiviral treatment remdesivir after it was approved by the FDA.
‘I’m going to fire your a** if you can’t fix this!’ Meadows said in a phone call to Kadlec.
According to the book, Trump’s comments on the call were so loud that Azar’s aides could hear him.
Trump also reportedly told his aides to fire a senior State Department official who allowed 14 Americans infected with COVID to get off the Diamond Princess on US soil.
Donald Trump considered quarantining Americans infected with COVID on Guantanamo Bay when the pandemic first started to take hold, a new book claims. Trump is pictured in February, 2020
‘Don’t we have an island that we own? What about Guantánamo?’ the president asked in the Situation Room in February 2020, according to Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta in Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History. Guantanamo Bay detainees are pictured in a yard in August 2009
The Americans were among the hundreds of people evacuated from the quarantined cruise ship in Yokohama on February 17, 2020.
They were taken off the vessel and repatriated back to the US on two chartered flights that landed at Travis Air Force Base, California, and Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
The State Department deemed that all the infected passengers were asymptomatic and cleared to fly.
Trump complained to Azar that it ‘doubled his infections overnight’, with the total number of cases in the US rising to 28.
Abutaleb and Paletta write that the aides balked at the idea and instead said that bringing back the sick Americans meant it saved their lives.
Trump also called for firing Kadlec after he signed off on the Diamond Princess evacuation.
Later on in the response he pushed to oust Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn because he refused to speed up vaccine approvals before the election.
The officials Trump wanted to fire managed to survive the administration.
Dr Anthony Fauci, who had a contested relationship with Trump, also stayed in his position even though staff looked to Kushner and other economic advisors when deciding on the response, the book claims.
The book details the workings inside the White House before infections spread across the country and is based off interviews with 180 people
‘That was what the response had turned into: a toxic environment in which no matter where you turned, someone was ready to rip your head off or threatening to fire you,’ Abutaleb and Paletta write.
Their book also lays out the tensions in the White House when Mike Pence was chosen to head up the COVID response, essentially replacing Azar.
Pence’s chief of staff Marc Schort criticized Trump for extending a a ‘pause’ on the economy through Easter 2020 and said it was a ‘gift’ to Democratic governors.
Short also slammed the plan to send free masks to every American household, with some officials comparing them to ‘underwear on your face’ and a ‘training bra’.
House Democrats have expanded their investigation into Trump’s Health Department after accusing the former president’s administration of ‘meddling’ with CDC data during the COVID pandemic – including efforts to alter an apolitical CDC report that were allegedly hidden by then-CDC head Robert Redfield.
The committee members accused Trump officials of engaging ‘in a persistent pattern of political interference in the nation’s pandemic response—overruling and bullying our nation’s scientists and making decisions that allowed the virus to spread more rapidly in an attempt to advance former President Trump’s electoral prospects.’
The subcommittee, led by Rep. James Clyburn, claims it is aware of 88 instances of the Trump administration interfering with the US pandemic response, including several instances where Trump-era officials sought to alter the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR).
MMWR reports offer regular public updates on scientists’ findings.
One email from August 2020 obtained by the Democrats shows former HHS adviser Paul Alexander demanding an ‘immediate stop’ to the apolitical reports, calling them ‘hit pieces on the administration.’
Alexander went on to outline conditions in which the reports can be released, which include giving him leave to alter the information within to ensure it is ‘fair and balanced.’
The email was sent to lawmakers by Dr. Charlotte Kent, editor-in-chief of the MMWR report, who told them she was instructed to delete the email by Redfield.
‘Dr. Kent stated that she was instructed to delete Dr. Alexander’s email on August 9, and that she understood the direction came from Dr. Redfield,’ lawmakers wrote in a letter addressed to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and current CDC head Rochelle Walensky.
Lawmakers also said the White House refused to have Redfield sit down for an interview after learning about the allegations, and ‘abruptly canceled’ four other scheduled interviews with officials.
‘Our public health institutions must never again be compromised by decision makers more concerned with politics than keeping Americans safe,’ the letter read.
They also asked to interview six current members of the HHS staff.
Trump also reportedly told his aides to fire a senior State Department official who allowed 14 Americans infected with COVID on the Diamond Princess. He complained to Azar that it ‘doubled his infections overnight’, with the total number of cases in the US rising to 28. The Diamond Princess is pictured in Japan in February 2020
Jared Kushner (left), according to the book, also called Robert Kadlec (right with Trump in 2020), the HHS emergency preparedness chief, a ‘f***ing moron’ when he found out an order of 600 million masks would not arrive in the US until June