Trump Should Watch This February Video Of Him Saying Damn Right He Fired The Pandemic Response Team
Donald Trump has the best memory of anyone he knows, which is why no one on the White House staff wanted him to talk to Robert Mueller. It's a very flexible memory. It's a very good memory of things that actually never happened, but he likes to brag about anyway, and absolutely blank when it comes to people he knew and ordered around but doesn't like now. So of course it's not surprising that Trump said last week he didn't know anything about that time in 2018 when he disbanded the National Security Council team charged with planning for a pandemic disease outbreak. He got very angry at "PBS NewsHour" reporter Yamiche Alcindor for even mentioning such a thing, calling it a "nasty" question. (Somebody ought to see whether he calls any white male reporters "nasty." Once? Twice? Ever? Alcindor is at least the second black woman he's called "nasty.")
Problem is, just 16 days earlier, Trump had been bragging about how he dissolved the NSC pandemic planning team (formally, the "Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense"), because he's such an excellent manager. Let's see if we can refresh his memory!
On Friday, when Trump announced NATIONAL EMERGY, Alcindor asked about the pandemic team's firing right after Trump insisted to another reporter that "I don't take responsibility at all" for the slow rollout of testing. OK, asked Alcindor, but how about shitcanning the pandemic team? Any sense of responsibility for that?
President Brainholes answered that not only did he feel no sense of responsibility, he wasn't even sure it happened. And if it did, it sure wasn't him!
"I didn't do it. We have a group of people I could —"
"It's your administration," Alcindor interjected.
"I could ask perhaps," Trump continued. "It's my administration, but I could perhaps ask Tony about that, because I don't know anything about it," the president said, gesturing towards Dr. Fauci, who was not involved in disbanding the team, but had expressed regret that it was no longer there. "I mean, you say we did that. I don't know anything about it," Trump added.
Trump made a great show of explaining that if anything of the sort had happened, it was "the administration" that must have done it, and he's barely even met those people. But nah, he never did that. News to him!
Which is a nice story until you look back at the video of his February 26 presser about how the stock market crashed in response to a Democratic debate that hadn't happened yet, and there were only 15 cases in the USA, which would soon be all better.The Washington Post's Jeffrey Stein asked Trump about the elimination of the NSC team then, and Trump said damn right he fired them, it was his decision,and he was glad he did, because they were useless. We've cued it up to the question. Roll 212!
STEIN: You have consistently called for enormous cuts to the CDC, the NIH, and the WHO. You've talked a lot today about how these professionals are excellent, are critical, are necessary. Does this experience give you pause about those cuts?
TRUMP: No, because we can get money, we can increase staff. We know all the people. This is a question I asked the doctors before. Some of the people we cut, they haven't used for many, many years, and if we ever need 'em we can get 'em very, very quickly. And rather than spending the money ... and I'm a business person. I don't like having thousands of people around when you don't need them. When we need them, we can get them back very quickly. For instance, we're bringing some people in tomorrow that are already in this great government that we have, and very specifically for this. We can build up really quickly, and we already have done that.
In short, as Wonkette alum Gary Legum said, Trump thinks the government is like a construction site. Just hire and fire as needed. The Post pointed out the day after that presser that preparation for a goddamned pandemic doesn't work that way.
"You build a fire department ahead of time. You don't wait for a fire," said Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "There is an underappreciation for the amount of time and resources required to build a prepared system."
Now that Trump has hailed himself as being Super Presidential (and some idiots in the media are going along with it), we don't even need to think about Trump's gutting the NSC pandemic response team anymore, and why is everyone dragging up all this ancient history from three weeks ago anyway?
(Speaking of ancient history, Trump is now also trying to claim that he has always known that the coronavirus pandemic, which he not so long ago was basically calling a hoax of some sort, downplaying the risk and claiming it would miraculously disappear, would become a pandemic. He was always calling it that, and if you don't remember that or say otherwise, you're obviously the Deep State.)
Trumpworld is busy trying to send the entire elimination of the NSC team down the memory hole. Last Friday, the Washington Post carried an op-ed by Beth Cameron, who ran the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense until she and her colleagues were reorganized out of existence. In the op-ed, Cameron noted that the group had been put in place following the Ebola outbreak of 2014, to better prepare the nation for a pandemic, but that
it is clear that eliminating the office has contributed to the federal government's sluggish domestic response. What's especially concerning about the absence of this office today is that it was originally set up because a previous epidemic made the need for it quite clear.
In an op-ed "reply" the Post ran Monday, former Trump NSC official Tim Morrison, the GOP star witness in the impeachment hearings, insisted that Trump never "dissolved" anything, no he never. In reality, the demise of the pandemic planning office is but a silly myth spread by "multiple officials of the Obama administration." Morrison's op-ed links to Cameron's but never addresses any of her specific charges about the administration's readiness for a pandemic.
Morrison will have you know that he was the next guy up in the NSC chain of command, and he certainly would have noticed if he'd been dissolved. No, nobody important was fired, he explains; rather, Trump merely got rid of deadwood:
It is true that the Trump administration has seen fit to shrink the NSC staff. But the bloat that occurred under the previous administration clearly needed a correction.
Morrison pretends all Trump's reorganization did was to combine elements of "three directorates into one," for the sake of efficiency, and that really, now that they're all mooshed together, it's actually a lot better. But he is very sad anyone would "misconstrue" that streamlining effort as having had any ill effects, and is aghast anyone would "play politics in the middle of a crisis," because when that happens, "we all are less safe."
You know what Morrison doesn't say? He doesn't offer the least hint of evidence that the "streamlined" NSC directorate did a goddamn thing to help prepare the US for a new pandemic.
But he does at least complain that we should all be calling the disease the "Wuhan virus," because if we fail to constantly yell CHINESE VIRUS we are falling for the dangerous propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party.
So good to see a straight shooter who abhors playing politics during a crisis. But those other guys, GRRR, they're the worst, and communist dupes at that.
We suppose we could wonder aloud why the Post even bothered giving Morrison a platform to sow confusion, but we're terribly partisan that way.
Yr Wonkette is supported solely by reader donations! Help us keep the writers humming and the servers paid, and if you're stuck at home, you can help us get a nice little kickback with our Amazon kickback linky, too. We love you.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.