One of the most cataclysmic developments of former President Donald Trump's time in office was his handling of the pandemic that's killed over 650 thousand Americans.
Trump's approach to the crisis was defined by his trademark denial of reality. From the start, as health officials warned the virus' outbreak in the United States was imminent, Trump and his supporters insisted the virus wouldn't ever arrive. By the time the country had shut down in April, Trump claimed it would be back open by Easter. He repeatedly undermined and politicized public safety guidelines—a move that continues to have consequences today.
Now, emails released by the House subcommittee regarding the pandemic, published by the Washington Post, show that Trump's officials were unsettled by his handling of the pandemic all the way back in February, as the first cases of COVID-19 were being reported in the United States. They were warning of "critical mistakes" the White House was making.
As Trump was calling the virus a "hoax," virologist Steven Hatfill—then an advisor to Trump—wrote to trade director Peter Navarro:
"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 U.S. within the next 7 days. 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."
This led Navarro to warn Trump of the situation's urgency in a memo, emphasizing that their response was "NOT fast enough."
Nevertheless, Trump boasted to the public only five days later that the administration was "prepared for anything" and that "anybody that wants a test can get a test," despite widespread shortages.
The Post's report was just further confirmation of the administration's ineptitude and denial defining its pandemic response.
The GOP continues to follow the former administration's playbook of dismissing the virus's threat.