Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History says it all. The new book looks behind Donald Trump’s White House curtain during the coronavirus rollout. It was a scary place.
Trump assembled his men in the Situation Room in February 2020. He wanted to send people infected with the coronavirus to the same place the U.S. held terrorists. The book wrote that he said:
‘Don’t we have an island that we own? What about Guantánamo? We import goods. We are not going to import a virus.’
The people around him were shocked. Trump suggested his idea again, but they quickly killed it. After all, what would voters think about quarantining American tourists with terrorists held on Guantanamo?
Two of The Washington Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta interviewed 180 people about the dysfunction behind Donald Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic. They interviewed a range of individuals from White House senior staff members to government health leaders about:
‘Last year’s chaotic and often-bungled response, portraying the power struggles over the leadership of the White House coronavirus task force, the unrelenting feuds that hampered cooperation, and the enormous efforts made to prevent Trump from acting on his worst instincts.’
Trump was far sicker than he let his people know. He careened between worrying about his own health, re-election probabilities, and “embracing miracle coronavirus cures.”
The ex-president called the former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar the day after St. Patrick’s Day shouting:
‘Testing is killing me! I’m going to lose the election because of testing! What idiot had the federal government do testing?’
Azar replied, referring to the then-president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who announced he would handle a national testing strategy via the private sector:
‘Uh, do you mean Jared?’
Trump did not understand why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wanted to track the virus:
‘This was gross incompetence to let CDC develop a test.’
As the disease continued to bloom across the country, Trump raged and turned to handpicked advisers, ones with “no infectious disease or public health experience.” All the while, health and national security officials tried to control the worst of it.
The ex-president tried to get his aides to fire a senior State Department employee who let the 14 coronavirus-sick Americans off of the Diamond Princess cruise ship to save their lives. The ex-president railed:
‘[The decision] doubles my numbers overnight.’
He was in his off-with-their-heads mood, wanting staff to fire the HHS emergency preparedness chief Robert Kadlec and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn. The FDA administrator would not rush the vaccine approval. Internationally recognized infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci was on the same list. If he could not fire them, due to public opinion, everyone ignored them.
Kushner also raged when he discovered Kadlec’s order for 600 million masks would not come before June. He threw his pen against the wall:
‘You f—ing moron. We’ll all be dead by June.’
Trump replaced his Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney with Mark Meadows who berated Kadlec over a new antiviral treatment, Remdesivir. Kadlec ordered it then found the hospitals did not have the refrigeration capacity for it:
‘I’m going to fire your a– if you can’t fix this!’
The two writers described the White House atmosphere, according to The Guardian:
‘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.’
Trump put his Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the coronavirus task force replacing Azar. Pence and his Chief of Staff Marc Short locked in on the “political and economic implications.”
Short called the act of Trump following health experts’ advice as a “gift to Democratic governors.” He did not like the idea of HHS handing free masks to all American homes, either. He thought that would alarm voters. A number of top officials called the masks “underwear on your face” and a “training bra.”
The authors wrote:
‘One of the biggest flaws in the Trump administration’s response is that no one was in charge of the response. Was it Birx, the task force coordinator? Was it Pence, head of the task force? Was it Trump, the boss? Was it Kushner, running the shadow task force until he wasn’t? Was it Marc Short or Mark Meadows, often at odds, rarely in sync? Ultimately, there was no accountability, and the response was rudderless.’
The book is available for preorder at Amazon. It will be released on June 29.
Three White Lions podcast, Gloria Christie reads her week’s most important news/ commentary stories in the liberal online newspaper The Bipartisan Report. Gloria Christie Report her newsletter for people on the go. Written in her own unique style with a twist of humor in a briefer version of Bipartisan Report. Christie’s Mueller Report Adventures In Bite-Sizes a real-life compelling spy mystery. Find her here on Facebook.