Emails by Trump administration’s officials “raise alarming questions” on how the former president handled of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to “critical failures” during his tenure.
Obtained by the House coronavirus subcommittee and released Tuesday, the documents showed the depth of cluelessness by the former president about what the coronavirus was doing to the United States.
"These documents raise alarming questions about whether you and other Trump Administration officials were attempting to hide information about the federal response to the coronavirus crisis from public view," committee chairman James Clyburn said in a letter sent to then-White House trade director Peter Navarro.
At the end of February 2020, Steven Hatfill, a virologist who worked as an outside consultant for the administration, had privately warned Navarro about the pandemic.
"In truth we do not have a clue how many are infected in the USA. We are expecting the first wave to spread in the US within the next 7 days," Hatfill said on Feb. 29. "This will be accompanied by a massive loss of credibility, and the Democratic accusations are just now beginning. This must be countered with frank honesty about the situation and decisive direct actions that are being taken and can be seen in the broadcast news."
The warning obliged Navarro to send a memo to then-President Donald Trump, cautioning him of a "significant global pandemic.”
"There is NO downside risk to taking swift action as an insurance policy against what may be a very serious public health emergency,” Navarro wrote.
But the president ignored the warning and tried to portray the situation as calm by actively undermining the virus.
“[W]e’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away," Trump said just less than two weeks later.
That means the president was aware of the severity of the conditions in the country but it it did not stop him from misleading the nation, Clyburn suggested.
“These exchanges add to the growing body of evidence that the Trump administration knew the significant risk posed by the coronavirus but failed to execute an effective strategy to reduce the loss of American lives," Clyburn said in his letter. "The Select Subcommittee seeks to understand what the leaders in the Trump Administration knew, when they knew it, and how their decisions may have contributed to the catastrophic loss of life.”
As President Donald Trump entered the final year of his term, the US recorded its first confirmed case of Covid-19.
After a year of presidential denials of reality and responsibility, the pandemic’s US death toll eclipsed 400,000.