Xtra News Community 2
August 14, 2020, 05:03:16 pm
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Welcome to Xtra News Community 2 — please also join our XNC2-BACKUP-GROUP.
 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links BITEBACK! XNC2-BACKUP-GROUP Staff List Login Register  

The elevator doesn't reach the top floor/the prez isn't the sharpest knife…


Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: The elevator doesn't reach the top floor/the prez isn't the sharpest knife…  (Read 100 times)
Kiwithrottlejockey
Admin Staff
XNC2 GOD
*
Posts: 31038


Having fun in the hills!


« on: April 12, 2020, 09:55:38 pm »


The following major article is appearing on page one and page two of the Sunday print edition of The New York Times.

It should be just starting to roll off the printing presses about now.




from The New York Times…

He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump's Failure on the Virus

An examination reveals the president was warned about the potential for a pandemic but that
internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response.


By ERIC LIPTON, DAVID E. SANGER, MAGGIE HABERMAN, MICHAEL D. SHEAR, MARK MAZZETTI and JULIAN E. BARNES | 5:57PM EDT — Saturday, April 11, 2020

“Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion,” President Trump said last month. He has repeatedly said that no one could have seen the effects of the coronavirus coming. — Photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times.
“Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion,” President Trump said last month. He has repeatedly said that no one could have seen
the effects of the coronavirus coming. — Photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times.


WASHINGTON D.C. — “Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad,” a senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Carter Mecher, wrote on the night of January 28, in an email to a group of public health experts scattered around the government and universities. “The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.”

A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing — a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives — Dr. Mecher was urging the upper ranks of the nation's public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action.

“You guys made fun of me screaming to close the schools,” he wrote to the group which called itself “Red Dawn”, which called itself “Red Dawn,” an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion. “Now I'm screaming, close the colleges and universities.”

His was hardly a lone voice. Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.

The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials. It was a problem, he said, that had come out of nowhere and could not have been foreseen.

Even after Mr. Trump took his first concrete action at the end of January — limiting travel from China — public health often had to compete with economic and political considerations in internal debates, slowing the path toward belated decisions to seek more money from Congress, obtain necessary supplies, address shortfalls in testing and ultimately move to keep much of the nation at home.

Unfolding as it did in the wake of his impeachment by the House and in the midst of his Senate trial, Mr. Trump's response was colored by his suspicion of and disdain for what he viewed as the “Deep State” — the very people in his government whose expertise and long experience might have guided him more quickly toward steps that would slow the virus, and likely save lives.

Decision-making was also complicated by a long-running dispute inside the administration over how to deal with China. The virus at first took a back seat to a desire not to upset Beijing during trade talks, but later the impulse to score points against Beijing left the world's two leading powers further divided as they confronted one of the first truly global threats of the 21st century.

The shortcomings of Mr. Trump's performance have played out with remarkable transparency as part of his daily effort to dominate television screens and the national conversation.

But dozens of interviews with current and former officials and a review of emails and other records revealed many previously unreported details and a fuller picture of the roots and extent of his halting response as the deadly virus spread:


  • The National Security Council office responsible for tracking pandemics received intelligence reports in early January predicting the spread of the virus to the United States, and within weeks was raising options like keeping Americans home from work and shutting down cities the size of Chicago. Mr. Trump would avoid such steps until March.

  • Despite Mr. Trump's denial weeks later, he was told at the time about a January 29 memo produced by his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, laying out in striking detail the potential risks of a coronavirus pandemic: as many as half a million deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses.

  • The health and human services secretary, Alex M. Azar II, directly warned Mr. Trump of the possibility of a pandemic during a call on January 30, the second warning he delivered to the president about the virus in two weeks. The president, who was on Air Force One while traveling for appearances in the Midwest, responded that Mr. Azar was being alarmist.

  • Mr. Azar publicly announced in February that the government was establishing a “surveillance” system in five American cities to measure the spread of the virus and enable experts to project the next hot spots. It was delayed for weeks. The slow start of that plan, on top of the well-documented failures to develop the nation's testing capacity, left administration officials with almost no insight into how rapidly the virus was spreading. “We were flying the plane with no instruments,” one official said.

  • By the third week in February, the administration's top public health experts concluded they should recommend to Mr. Trump a new approach that would include warning the American people of the risks and urging steps like social distancing and staying home from work. But the White House focused instead on messaging and crucial additional weeks went by before their views were reluctantly accepted by the president — time when the virus spread largely unimpeded.

When Mr. Trump finally agreed in mid-March to recommend social distancing across the country, effectively bringing much of the economy to a halt, he seemed shell-shocked and deflated to some of his closest associates. One described him as “subdued” and “baffled” by how the crisis had played out. An economy that he had wagered his re-election on was suddenly in shambles.

He only regained his swagger, the associate said, from conducting his daily White House briefings, at which he often seeks to rewrite the history of the past several months. He declared at one point that he “felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic”, and insisted at another that he had to be a “cheerleader for the country”, as if that explained why he failed to prepare the public for what was coming.

Mr. Trump's allies and some administration officials say the criticism has been unfair. The Chinese government misled other governments, they say. And they insist that the president was either not getting proper information, or the people around him weren't conveying the urgency of the threat. In some cases, they argue, the specific officials he was hearing from had been discredited in his eyes, but once the right information got to him through other channels, he made the right calls.

“While the media and Democrats refused to seriously acknowledge this virus in January and February, President Trump took bold action to protect Americans and unleash the full power of the federal government to curb the spread of the virus, expand testing capacities and expedite vaccine development even when we had no true idea the level of transmission or asymptomatic spread,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.

There were key turning points along the way, opportunities for Mr. Trump to get ahead of the virus rather than just chase it. There were internal debates that presented him with stark choices, and moments when he could have chosen to ask deeper questions and learn more. How he handled them may shape his re-election campaign. They will certainly shape his legacy.


The Containment Illusion

By the last week of February, it was clear to the administration's public health team that schools and businesses in hot spots would have to close. But in the turbulence of the Trump White House, it took three more weeks to persuade the president that failure to act quickly to control the spread of the virus would have dire consequences.

When Dr. Robert Kadlec, the top disaster response official at the Health and Human Services Department, convened the White House coronavirus task force on February 21, his agenda was urgent. There were deep cracks in the administration's strategy for keeping the virus out of the United States. They were going to have to lock down the country to prevent it from spreading. The question was: When?


Dr. Robert Kadlec with the Department of Health and Human Services ran an exercise with the White House Task Force in February that helped convince some in the administration to push for taking more urgent action against the virus. — Photograph: T.J. Kirkpatrick/for The New York Times.
Dr. Robert Kadlec with the Department of Health and Human Services ran an exercise with the White House Task Force in February that helped
convince some in the administration to push for taking more urgent action against the virus.
 — Photograph: T.J. Kirkpatrick/for The New York Times.


There had already been an alarming spike in new cases around the world and the virus was spreading across the Middle East. It was becoming apparent that the administration had botched the rollout of testing to track the virus at home, and a smaller-scale surveillance program intended to piggyback on a federal flu tracking system had also been stillborn.

In Washington, the president was not worried, predicting that by April, “when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.” His White House had yet to ask Congress for additional funding to prepare for the potential cost of wide-scale infection across the country, and health care providers were growing increasingly nervous about the availability of masks, ventilators and other equipment.

What Mr. Trump decided to do next could dramatically shape the course of the pandemic — and how many people would get sick and die.

With that in mind, the task force had gathered for a tabletop exercise — a real-time version of a full-scale war gaming of a flu pandemic the administration had run the previous year. That earlier exercise, also conducted by Mr. Kadlec and called “Crimson Contagion”, predicted 110 million infections, 7.7 million hospitalizations and 586,000 deaths following a hypothetical outbreak that started in China.

Facing the likelihood of a real pandemic, the group needed to decide when to abandon “containment” — the effort to keep the virus outside the U.S. and to isolate anyone who gets infected — and embrace “mitigation” to thwart the spread of the virus inside the country until a vaccine becomes available.

Among the questions on the agenda, which was reviewed by The New York Times, was when the department's secretary, Mr. Azar, should recommend that Mr. Trump take textbook mitigation measures “such as school dismissals and cancellations of mass gatherings,” which had been identified as the next appropriate step in a Bush-era pandemic plan.

The exercise was sobering. The group — including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Robert R. Redfield of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Mr. Azar, who at that stage was leading the White House Task Force — concluded they would soon need to move toward aggressive social distancing, even at the risk of severe disruption to the nation's economy and the daily lives of millions of Americans.


The president urged social distancing in mid-March but almost immediately began talking about reopening the economy. — Photograph: Andrew Seng/for The New York Times.
The president urged social distancing in mid-March but almost immediately began talking about reopening the economy.
 — Photograph: Andrew Seng/for The New York Times.


If Dr. Kadlec had any doubts, they were erased two days later, when he stumbled upon an email from a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who was among the group of academics, government physicians and infectious diseases doctors who had spent weeks tracking the outbreak in the Red Dawn email chain.

A 20-year-old Chinese woman had infected five relatives with the virus even though she never displayed any symptoms herself. The implication was grave — apparently healthy people could be unknowingly spreading the virus — and supported the need to move quickly to mitigation.

“Is this true?!” Dr. Kadlec wrote back to the researcher. “If so we have a huge whole on our screening and quarantine effort,” including a typo where he meant hole. Her response was blunt: “People are carrying the virus everywhere.”




The following day, Dr. Kadlec and the others decided to present Mr. Trump with a plan titled “Four Steps to Mitigation,” telling the president that they needed to begin preparing Americans for a step rarely taken in United States history.

But over the next several days, a presidential blowup and internal turf fights would sidetrack such a move. The focus would shift to messaging and confident predictions of success rather than publicly calling for a shift to mitigation.

These final days of February, perhaps more than any other moment during his tenure in the White House, illustrated Mr. Trump's inability or unwillingness to absorb warnings coming at him. He instead reverted to his traditional political playbook in the midst of a public health calamity, squandering vital time as the coronavirus spread silently across the country.

Dr. Kadlec's group wanted to meet with the president right away, but Mr. Trump was on a trip to India, so they agreed to make the case to him in person as soon as he returned two days later. If they could convince him of the need to shift strategy, they could immediately begin a national education campaign aimed at preparing the public for the new reality.

A memo dated Februarly 14, prepared in coordination with the National Security Council and titled “U.S. Government Response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus,” documented what more drastic measures would look like, including: “significantly limiting public gatherings and cancellation of almost all sporting events, performances, and public and private meetings that cannot be convened by phone. Consider school closures. Widespread ‘stay at home’ directives from public and private organizations with nearly 100% telework for some.”

The memo did not advocate an immediate national shutdown, but said the targeted use of “quarantine and isolation measures” could be used to slow the spread in places where “sustained human-to-human transmission” is evident.

Within 24 hours, before they got a chance to make their presentation to the president, the plan went awry.

Mr. Trump was walking up the steps of Air Force One to head home from India on February 25 when Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, publicly issued the blunt warning they had all agreed was necessary.

But Dr. Messonnier had jumped the gun. They had not told the president yet, much less gotten his consent.

On the 18-hour plane ride home, Mr. Trump fumed as he watched the stock market crash after Dr. Messonnier's comments. Furious, he called Mr. Azar when he landed at around 6 a.m. on February 26, raging that Dr. Messonnier had scared people unnecessarily. Already on thin ice with the president over a variety of issues and having overseen the failure to quickly produce an effective and widely available test, Mr. Azar would soon find his authority reduced.

The meeting that evening with Mr. Trump to advocate social distancing was canceled, replaced by a news conference in which the president announced that the White House response would be put under the command of Vice President Mike Pence.


Vice President Mike Pence visiting a Walmart distribution center in Gordonsville, Virginia this month. He was put in charge of the coronavirus task force after Mr. Trump clashed with Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary. — Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times.
Vice President Mike Pence visiting a Walmart distribution center in Gordonsville, Virginia this month. He was put in charge of the coronavirus
task force after Mr. Trump clashed with Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary.
 — Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times.


The push to convince Mr. Trump of the need for more assertive action stalled. With Mr. Pence and his staff in charge, the focus was clear: no more alarmist messages. Statements and media appearances by health officials like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield would be coordinated through Mr. Pence's office. It would be more than three weeks before Mr. Trump would announce serious social distancing efforts, a lost period during which the spread of the virus accelerated rapidly.

Over nearly three weeks from February 26 to March 16, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States grew from 15 to 4,226. Since then, nearly half a million Americans have tested positive for the virus and authorities say hundreds of thousands more are likely infected.


The China Factor

The earliest warnings about coronavirus got caught in the cross-currents of the administration's internal disputes over China. It was the China hawks who pushed earliest for a travel ban. But their animosity toward China also undercut hopes for a more cooperative approach by the world's two leading powers to a global crisis.

It was early January, and the call with a Hong Kong epidemiologist left Matthew Pottinger rattled.

Mr. Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser and a hawk on China, took a blunt warning away from the call with the doctor, a long-time friend: A ferocious, new outbreak that on the surface appeared similar to the SARS epidemic of 2003 had emerged in China. It had spread far more quickly than the government was admitting to, and it wouldn't be long before it reached other parts of the world.


Matthew Pottinger, left, the deputy national security adviser, was among those in the administration who pushed for imposing limits on travel from China. — Photograph: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press.
Matthew Pottinger, left, the deputy national security adviser, was among those in the administration who pushed for imposing limits
on travel from China. — Photograph: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press.


Mr. Pottinger had worked as a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Hong Kong during the SARS epidemic, and was still scarred by his experience documenting the death spread by that highly contagious virus.

Now, seventeen years later, his friend had a blunt message: You need to be ready. The virus, he warned, which originated in the city of Wuhan, was being transmitted by people who were showing no symptoms — an insight that American health officials had not yet accepted. Mr. Pottinger declined through a spokesman to comment.

It was one of the earliest warnings to the White House, and it echoed the intelligence reports making their way to the National Security Council. While most of the early assessments from the C.I.A. had little more information than was available publicly, some of the more specialized corners of the intelligence world were producing sophisticated and chilling warnings.

In a report to the director of national intelligence, the State Department's epidemiologist wrote in early January that the virus was likely to spread across the globe, and warned that the coronavirus could develop into a pandemic. Working independently, a small outpost of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Center for Medical Intelligence, came to the same conclusion. Within weeks after getting initial information about the virus early in the year, bio-defense experts inside the National Security Council, looking at what was happening in Wuhan, started urging officials to think about what would be needed to quarantine a city the size of Chicago.


An I.C.U. ward at Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, Italy last month where critical Covid-19 patients were hospitalized. — Photograph: Fabio Bucciarelli/for The New York Times.
An I.C.U. ward at Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, Italy last month where critical Covid-19 patients were hospitalized.
 — Photograph: Fabio Bucciarelli/for The New York Times.


By mid-January there was growing evidence of the virus spreading outside China. Mr. Pottinger began convening daily meetings about the coronavirus. He alerted his boss, Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser.

The early alarms sounded by Mr. Pottinger and other China hawks were freighted with ideology — including a push to publicly blame China that critics in the administration say was a distraction as the coronavirus spread to Western Europe and eventually the United States.

And they ran into opposition from Mr. Trump's economic advisers, who worried a tough approach toward China could scuttle a trade deal that was a pillar of Mr. Trump's re-election campaign.

With his skeptical — some might even say conspiratorial — view of China's ruling Communist Party, Mr. Pottinger initially suspected that President Xi Jinping's government was keeping a dark secret: that the virus may have originated in one of the laboratories in Wuhan studying deadly pathogens. In his view, it might have even been a deadly accident unleashed on an unsuspecting Chinese population.

During meetings and telephone calls, Mr. Pottinger asked intelligence agencies — including officers at the C.I.A. working on Asia and on weapons of mass destruction — to search for evidence that might bolster his theory.

They didn't have any evidence. Intelligence agencies did not detect any alarm inside the Chinese government that analysts presumed would accompany the accidental leak of a deadly virus from a government laboratory. But Mr. Pottinger continued to believe the coronavirus problem was far worse than the Chinese were acknowledging. Inside the West Wing, the director of the Domestic Policy Council, Joe Grogan, also tried to sound alarms that the threat from China was growing.

Mr. Pottinger, backed by Mr. O’Brien, became one of the driving forces of a campaign in the final weeks of January to convince Mr. Trump to impose limits on travel from China — the first substantive step taken to impede the spread of the virus and one that the president has repeatedly cited as evidence that he was on top of the problem.

In addition to the opposition from the economic team, Mr. Pottinger and his allies among the China hawks had to overcome initial skepticism from the administration's public health experts.


Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, two leading members of the administration's public health team, were ready to back a shift in administration strategy by late February. — Photograph: Pete Marovich/for The New York Times.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, two leading members of the administration's public health team, were ready to back a shift
in administration strategy by late February. — Photograph: Pete Marovich/for The New York Times.


Travel restrictions were usually counter-productive to managing biological outbreaks because they prevented doctors and other much-needed medical help from easily getting to the affected areas, the health officials said. And such bans often cause infected people to flee, spreading the disease further.

But on the morning of January 30, Mr. Azar got a call from Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield and others saying they had changed their minds. The World Health Organization had declared a global public health emergency and American officials had discovered the first confirmed case of person-to-person transmission inside the United States.

The economic team, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, continued to argue that there were big risks in taking a provocative step toward China and moving to curb global travel. After a debate, Mr. Trump came down on the side of the hawks and the public health team. The limits on travel from China were publicly announced on January 31.


An email sent among federal government physicians and former senior pandemic advisers by Dr. James Lawler, an infectious diseases specialist and public health expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
An email sent among federal government physicians and former senior pandemic advisers by Dr. James Lawler,
an infectious diseases specialist and public health expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.


Still, Mr. Trump and other senior officials were wary of further upsetting Beijing. Besides the concerns about the impact on the trade deal, they knew that an escalating confrontation was risky because the United States relies heavily on China for pharmaceuticals and the kinds of protective equipment most needed to combat the coronavirus.

But the hawks kept pushing in February to take a critical stance toward China amid the growing crisis. Mr. Pottinger and others — including aides to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — pressed for government statements to use the term “Wuhan Virus.”

Mr. Pompeo tried to hammer the anti-China message at every turn, eventually even urging leaders of the Group of 7 industrialized countries to use “Wuhan virus” in a joint statement.

Others, including aides to Mr. Pence, resisted taking a hard public line, believing that angering Beijing might lead the Chinese government to withhold medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and any scientific research that might ultimately lead to a vaccine.


A temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated. Cross-currents in the administration's China policy complicated its response to the outbreak. — Photograph: Chinatopix/via Associated Press.
A temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated. Cross-currents in the administration's China policy
complicated its response to the outbreak. — Photograph: Chinatopix/via Associated Press.


Mr. Trump took a conciliatory approach through the middle of March, praising the job Mr. Xi was doing.

That changed abruptly, when aides informed Mr. Trump that a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman had publicly spun a new conspiracy about the origins of Covid-19: that it was brought to China by U.S. Army personnel who visited the country last October.

Mr. Trump was furious, and he took to his favorite platform to broadcast a new message. On March 16, he wrote on Twitter that “the United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus.”

Mr. Trump's decision to escalate the war of words undercut any remaining possibility of broad cooperation between the governments to address a global threat. It remains to be seen whether that mutual suspicion will spill over into efforts to develop treatments or vaccines, both areas where the two nations are now competing.

One immediate result was a free-for-all across the United States, with state and local governments and hospitals bidding on the open market for scarce but essential Chinese-made products. When the state of Massachusetts managed to procure 1.2 million masks, it fell to the owner of the New England Patriots, Robert K. Kraft, a Trump ally, to cut through extensive red tape on both sides of the Pacific to send his own plane to pick them up.


The Consequences of Chaos

The chaotic culture of the Trump White House contributed to the crisis. A lack of planning and a failure to execute, combined with the president’s focus on the news cycle and his preference for following his gut rather than the data cost time, and perhaps lives.

Inside the West Wing, Mr. Navarro, Mr. Trump's trade adviser, was widely seen as quick-tempered, self-important and prone to butting in. He is among the most outspoken of China hawks and in late January was clashing with the administration's health experts over limiting travel from China.


Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, warned that a pandemic could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.
Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, warned that a pandemic could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions
of Americans at risk of illness or death. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.


So it elicited eye rolls when, after initially being prevented from joining the coronavirus task force, he circulated a memo on January 29 urging Mr. Trump to impose the travel limits, arguing that failing to confront the outbreak aggressively could be catastrophic, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses.

The uninvited message could not have conflicted more with the president's approach at the time of playing down the severity of the threat. And when aides raised it with Mr. Trump, he responded that he was unhappy that Mr. Navarro had put his warning in writing.

From the time the virus was first identified as a concern, the administration's response was plagued by the rivalries and factionalism that routinely swirl around Mr. Trump and, along with the president's impulsiveness, undercut decision making and policy development.

Faced with the relentless march of a deadly pathogen, the disagreements and a lack of long-term planning had significant consequences. They slowed the president's response and resulted in problems with execution and planning, including delays in seeking money from Capitol Hill and a failure to begin broad surveillance testing.

The efforts to shape Mr. Trump's view of the virus began early in January, when his focus was elsewhere: the fallout from his decision to kill Major General Qassim Suleimani, Iran's security mastermind; his push for an initial trade deal with China; and his Senate impeachment trial, which was about to begin.

Even after Mr. Azar first briefed him about the potential seriousness of the virus during a phone call on January 18 while the president was at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Mr. Trump projected confidence that it would be a passing problem.

“We have it totally under control,” he told an interviewer a few days later while attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. “It's going to be just fine.”

Back in Washington, voices outside of the White House peppered Mr. Trump with competing assessments about what he should do and how quickly he should act.


Traders at the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, when stocks suffered their worst single-day decline in more than a decade. Two days later, Mr. Trump announced restrictions on travel from Europe. — Photograph: Ashley Gilbertson/for The New York Times.
Traders at the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, when stocks suffered their worst single-day decline in more than a decade.
Two days later, Mr. Trump announced restrictions on travel from Europe. — Photograph: Ashley Gilbertson/for The New York Times.


The efforts to sort out policy behind closed doors were contentious and sometimes only loosely organized.

That was the case when the National Security Council convened a meeting on short notice on the afternoon of January 27. The Situation Room was standing room only, packed with top White House advisers, low-level staffers, Mr. Trump's social media guru, and several cabinet secretaries. There was no checklist about the preparations for a possible pandemic, which would require intensive testing, rapid acquisition of protective gear, and perhaps serious limitations on Americans' movements.

Instead, after a 20-minute description by Mr. Azar of his department's capabilities, the meeting was jolted when Stephen E. Biegun, the newly installed deputy secretary of state, announced plans to issue a “level four” travel warning, strongly discouraging Americans from traveling to China. The room erupted into bickering.

A few days later, on the evening of January 30, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff at the time, and Mr. Azar called Air Force One as the president was making the final decision to go ahead with the restrictions on China travel. Mr. Azar was blunt, warning that the virus could develop into a pandemic and arguing that China should be criticized for failing to be transparent.

Mr. Trump rejected the idea of criticizing China, saying the country had enough to deal with. And if the president's decision on the travel restrictions suggested that he fully grasped the seriousness of the situation, his response to Mr. Azar indicated otherwise.

Stop panicking, Mr. Trump told him.

That sentiment was present throughout February, as the president's top aides reached for a consistent message but took few concrete steps to prepare for the possibility of a major public health crisis.


A worker at a Starbucks at an airport in Beijing in January checks a customer's temperature. — Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.
A worker at a Starbucks at an airport in Beijing in January checks a customer's temperature. — Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images.

During a briefing on Capitol Hill on February 5, senators urged administration officials to take the threat more seriously. Several asked if the administration needed additional money to help local and state health departments prepare.

Derek Kan, a senior official from the Office of Management and Budget, replied that the administration had all the money it needed, at least at that point, to stop the virus, two senators who attended the briefing said.

“Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote in a tweet shortly after. “Bottom line: they aren't taking this seriously enough.”

The administration also struggled to carry out plans it did agree on. In mid-February, with the effort to roll out widespread testing stalled, Mr. Azar announced a plan to repurpose a flu-surveillance system in five major cities to help track the virus among the general population. The effort all but collapsed even before it got started as Mr. Azar struggled to win approval for $100 million in funding and the C.D.C. failed to make reliable tests available.

The number of infections in the United States started to surge through February and early March, but the Trump administration did not move to place large-scale orders for masks and other protective equipment, or critical hospital equipment, such as ventilators. The Pentagon sat on standby, awaiting any orders to help provide temporary hospitals or other assistance.


Dr. Carter Mecher with the Department of Veterans Affairs argued to colleagues in late February for so-called targeted layered containment (TLC) and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), which are measures like closing schools and businesses, to limit the spread of the virus. Mr. Azar and other public health officials came to the same conclusion around that time.
Dr. Carter Mecher with the Department of Veterans Affairs argued to colleagues in late February for so-called
targeted layered containment (TLC) and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), which are measures like
closing schools and businesses, to limit the spread of the virus. Mr. Azar and other public health officials
came to the same conclusion around that time.


As February gave way to March, the president continued to be surrounded by divided factions even as it became clearer that avoiding more aggressive steps was not tenable.

Mr. Trump had agreed to give an Oval Office address on the evening of March 11 announcing restrictions on travel from Europe, where the virus was ravaging Italy. But responding to the views of his business friends and others, he continued to resist calls for social distancing, school closures and other steps that would imperil the economy.


Pandemic experts, including Mr. Trump's own former homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, compare notes via the Red Dawn email group, after Mr. Trump's March 11 announcement that he is limiting travel from Europe.
Pandemic experts, including Mr. Trump's own former homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, compare notes
via the Red Dawn email group, after Mr. Trump's March 11 announcement that he is limiting travel from Europe.


But the virus was already multiplying across the country — and hospitals were at risk of buckling under the looming wave of severely ill people, lacking masks and other protective equipment, ventilators and sufficient intensive care beds. The question loomed over the president and his aides after weeks of stalling and inaction: What were they going to do?

The approach that Mr. Azar and others had planned to bring to him weeks earlier moved to the top of the agenda. Even then, and even by Trump White House standards, the debate over whether to shut down much of the country to slow the spread was especially fierce.

Always attuned to anything that could trigger a stock market decline or an economic slowdown that could hamper his re-election effort, Mr. Trump also reached out to prominent investors like Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of Blackstone Group, a private equity firm.

“Everybody questioned it for a while, not everybody, but a good portion questioned it,” Mr. Trump said earlier this month. “They said, let's keep it open. Let's ride it.”

In a tense Oval Office meeting, when Mr. Mnuchin again stressed that the economy would be ravaged, Mr. O'Brien, the national security adviser, who had been worried about the virus for weeks, sounded exasperated as he told Mr. Mnuchin that the economy would be destroyed regardless if officials did nothing.

Soon after the Oval Office address, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and a trusted sounding board inside the White House, visited Mr. Trump, partly at the urging of Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. Dr. Gottlieb's role was to impress upon the president how serious the crisis could become. Mr. Pence, by then in charge of the task force, also played a key role at that point in getting through to the president about the seriousness of the moment in a way that Mr. Azar had not.


Dr. Deborah Birx eventually helped convince Mr. Trump that stricter measures needed to be taken. — Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times.
Dr. Deborah Birx eventually helped convince Mr. Trump that stricter measures needed to be taken.
 — Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times.


But in the end, aides said, it was Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the veteran AIDS researcher who had joined the task force, who helped to persuade Mr. Trump. Soft-spoken and fond of the kind of charts and graphs Mr. Trump prefers, Dr. Birx did not have the rough edges that could irritate the president. He often told people he thought she was elegant.

On Monday, March 16, Mr. Trump announced new social distancing guidelines, saying they would be in place for two weeks. The subsequent economic disruptions were so severe that the president repeatedly suggested that he wanted to lift even those temporary restrictions. He frequently asked aides why his administration was still being blamed in news coverage for the widespread failures involving testing, insisting the responsibility had shifted to the states.

During the last week in March, Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House adviser involved in task force meetings, gave voice to concerns other aides had. She warned Mr. Trump that his wished-for date of Easter to reopen the country likely couldn't be accomplished. Among other things, she told him, he would end up being blamed by critics for every subsequent death caused by the virus.

Within days, he watched images on television of a calamitous situation at Elmhurst Hospital Center, miles from his childhood home in Queens, New York, where 13 people had died from the coronavirus in 24 hours.

He left the restrictions in place.


__________________________________________________________________________

Mark Walker contributed reporting from Washington D.C., and Mike Baker from Seattle. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Eric Lipton is an investigative reporter for The New York Times, based in Washington. He started at The Times in 1999 covering Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and then the September 11, 2001, attacks. He is a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting, investigative reporting and as part of team for foreign reporting. He previously worked at The Washington Post and The Hartford Courant.

David E. Sanger is a national security correspondent and a senior writer. In a 36-year reporting career for The New York Times, he has been on three teams that have won Pulitzer Prizes, most recently in 2017 for international reporting. His newest book, The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age,’ examines the emergence of cyberconflict as the primary way large and small states are competing and undercutting each other, changing the nature of global power. He is also the author of two New York Times best sellers on foreign policy and national security: The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power, published in 2009, and Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, published in 2012. For The N.Y. Times, Mr. Sanger has served as Tokyo bureau chief, Washington economic correspondent, White House correspondent during the Clinton and Bush administrations, and chief Washington correspondent. Mr. Sanger spent six years in Tokyo, writing about the emergence of Japan as a major American competitor, and then the country's humbling recession. He wrote many of the first articles about North Korea's emerging nuclear weapons program. Returning to Washington, Mr. Sanger turned to a wide range of diplomatic and national security issues, especially issues of nuclear proliferation and the rise of cyberconflict among nations. In reporting for The Times and Confront and Conceal, he revealed the story of Olympic Games, the code name for the most sophisticated cyberattack in history, the American-Israeli effort to sabotage Iran's nuclear program with the Stuxnet worm. His journalistic pursuit of the origins of Stuxnet became the subject of the documentary “Zero Days” which made the short list of Academy Award documentaries in 2016. With his Times colleague Bill Broad, he also described, in early 2017, a parallel cybereffort against North Korea. Mr. Sanger was a leading member of the team that investigated the causes of the Challenger disaster in 1986, which was awarded a Pulitzer in national reporting the following year. A second Pulitzer, in 1999, was awarded to a team that investigated the struggles within the Clinton administration over controlling technology exports to China. He has also won the Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting for his coverage of the Iraq and Korea crises, the Aldo Beckman prize for coverage of the presidency, and, in two separate years, the Merriman Smith Memorial Award, for coverage of national security issues. “Nuclear Jihad” the documentary that Mr. Sanger reported for Discovery/Times Television, won the duPont-Columbia Award for its explanation of the workings of the A. Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network. That coverage was also a finalist for a Pulitzer. A 1982 graduate of Harvard College, Mr. Sanger was the first senior fellow in The Press and National Security at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. With Graham T. Allison Jr., he co-teaches Central Challenges in American National Security, Strategy and the Press at the Kennedy School of Government.

Maggie Haberman is a White House correspondent. She joined The New York Times in February 2015 as a campaign correspondent. Previously, Ms. Haberman worked as a political reporter at Politico from 2010 to 2015 and at other publications including the New York Post and New York Daily News. She was a finalist for the Mirror Awards, with Glenn Thrush, for What is Hillary Clinton Afraid of? which was published in 2014. Her hobbies include singing, and she is married with three children.

Michael D. Shear is a White House correspondent in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, where he covers President Trump, with a focus on domestic policy, the regulatory state and life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A veteran political correspondent, he covered Barack Obama's presidency, including the 2012 re-election campaign. Before coming to The N.Y. Times in 2010, he spent 18 years at The Washington Post, writing about local communities, school districts, state politics, the 2008 presidential campaign and the White House. A member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, Mr. Shear is a 1990 graduate of Claremont McKenna College and has a masters in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Virginia with his wife and two teenage children.

Mark Mazzetti is Washington Investigations Editor, a job he assumed after covering national security from The New York Times's Washington bureau for 10 years. In 2009, he shared a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the intensifying violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Washington's response. The previous year, he was a Pulitzer finalist for revelations about the C.I.A.'s detention and interrogation program.  He is the author of The Way of the Knife, a New York Times best-selling account of the secret wars waged by the C.I.A. and Pentagon since the September 11 attacks. He is a two-time recipient of the George Polk award.

Julian E. Barnes is a national security reporter for The New York Times covering the intelligence agencies. Before joining The N.Y. Times' Washington bureau in 2018, he wrote about security matters for The Wall Street Journal, based in Brussels and Washington. He has more than 17 years experience covering U.S. national security, the military and related matters for The Journal, the Los Angles Times and U.S. News & World Report.

• A version of this article appears in The New York Times on Sunday April 12, 2020, on page A1 of the New York print edition with the headline: “Despite Timely Alerts, Trump Was Slow to Act”.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count

 • Five Takeaways on What Trump Knew as the Virus Spread (April 11, 2020).

 • Torn Over Reopening Economy, Trump Says He Faces ‘Biggest Decision I've Ever Had to Make’ (April 10, 2020).

 • Restarting America Means People Will Die. So When Do We Do It? (April 10, 2020).


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/11/us/politics/coronavirus-trump-response.html
Report Spam   Logged

If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Kiwithrottlejockey
Admin Staff
XNC2 GOD
*
Posts: 31038


Having fun in the hills!


« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2020, 10:03:37 pm »



Report Spam   Logged

If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 
Kiwithrottlejockey
Admin Staff
XNC2 GOD
*
Posts: 31038


Having fun in the hills!


« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2020, 01:40:22 pm »


“Fake President” Donald J. Trump holding a daily press conference while seething with rage over being blamed for his own stupidity & ineptitude…



Report Spam   Logged

If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 
Kiwithrottlejockey
Admin Staff
XNC2 GOD
*
Posts: 31038


Having fun in the hills!


« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2020, 11:39:00 pm »


from The New York Times…

Trump's Disinfectant Remark Raises a Question
About the ‘Very Stable Genius’


The president has often said he is exceptionally smart.
His recent suggestion about injecting disinfectants was not.


By MATT FLEGENHEIMER | Sunday, April 26, 2020

President Donald J. Trump suggested on Thursday that an “injection inside” the body with a disinfectant like bleach could help fight the coronavirus. — Photograph: Al Drago/for The New York Times.
President Donald J. Trump suggested on Thursday that an “injection inside” the body with a disinfectant like bleach could help fight the coronavirus.
 — Photograph: Al Drago/for The New York Times.


PRESIDENT TRUMP's self-assessment has been consistent.

“I'm, like, a very smart person,” he assured voters in 2016.

“A very stable genius,” he ruled two years later.

“I'm not a doctor,” he allowed on Thursday, pointing to his skull inside the White House briefing room, “but I'm, like, a person that has a good you-know-what.”

Mr. Trump's performance that evening, when he suggested that injections of disinfectants into the human body could help combat the coronavirus, did not sound like the work of a doctor, a genius, or a person with a good you-know-what.

Even by the turbulent standards of this president, his musings on virus remedies have landed with uncommon force, drawing widespread condemnation as dangerous to the health of Americans and inspiring a near-universal alarm that many of his past remarks — whether offensive or fear-mongering or simply untrue — did not.

Mr. Trump's typical name-calling can be recast to receptive audiences as mere “counter-punching.” His impeachment was explained away as the dastardly opus of over-reaching Democrats. It is more difficult to insist that the man floating disinfectant injection knows what he's doing.

The reaction has so rattled the president's allies and advisers that he was compelled over the weekend to remove himself from the pandemic briefings entirely, at least temporarily accepting two fates he loathes: giving in to advice (from Republicans who said the appearances did far more harm than good to his political standing) and surrendering the mass viewership he relishes.

Some at the White House have expressed frustration that the issue has lingered. “It bothers me that this is still in the news cycle,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator, told CNN on Sunday, adding, “I worry that we don't get the information to the American people that they need, when we continue to bring up something that was from Thursday night.”

Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who has been willing to speak skeptically about Mr. Trump's virus leadership, said on ABC's “This Week” on Sunday that it “does send a wrong message” when misinformation spreads from a public official or “you just say something that pops in your head.” Asked to explain the president's words, Mr. Hogan said, “You know, I can't really explain it.”

No modern American politician can match Mr. Trump's record of false or illogical statements, which has invited questions about his intelligence. Insinuations and gaffes have trailed former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dan Quayle and Joseph R. Biden Jr., now the presumptive Democratic nominee, among many others. But Mr. Trump's stark pronouncement — on live television, amid a grave public health crisis, and leaving little room for interpretation — was at once in a class of its own and wholly consistent with a reputation for carelessness in speech.


A spokesman for Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s campaign called the Trump team's effort to portray Mr. Biden as doddering “a distraction tactic”. — Photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times.
A spokesman for Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s campaign called the Trump team's effort to portray Mr. Biden as doddering “a distraction tactic”.
 — Photograph: Erin Schaff/The New York Times.


Still, for weeks, the president's political team has been strikingly explicit about its intended messaging against Mr. Biden: presenting him as a doddering 77-year-old not up to the rigors of the office — and setting off on the kind of whisper campaign that does not bother with whispers.

A Trump campaign Twitter account on Saturday celebrated the anniversary of Mr. Biden's 2020 bid by highlighting all that he had “forgotten” as a candidate, with corresponding video clips of momentary flubs and verbal stumbles: “Joe Biden forgot the name of the coronavirus”. “Joe Biden forgot the G7 was not the G8”. “Joe Biden forgot Super Tuesday was on a Tuesday”.

On Sunday, the Trump campaign made clear that the disinfectant affair would not disrupt its plans. “Joe Biden is often lost,” said Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, “losing his train of thought during friendly interviews, even when he relies on written notes in front of him.”

T.J. Ducklo, a Biden spokesman, called this approach “a distraction tactic — as if anything could erase the memory of the president suggesting people drink disinfectant on national television.”

Carlos Curbelo, a Republican former Florida congressman who clashed at times with Mr. Trump and did not vote for him, said the president's comments on disinfectants were likely to resonate precisely because he was running a race premised largely on Mr. Biden's mental capacity.

“Given Joe Biden's gaffes and mistakes, I think the Trump campaign had a strong narrative there,” he said. “At the very least, that advantage was completely erased.”

Mr. Curbelo said a friend had suggested recently that Mr. Trump's toxic virus idea was “the craziest thing he ever said.”

“I said, ‘I don't know’,” Mr. Curbelo recalled. “‘Maybe. I'd have to look back and check’.”

This history, of course, is the argument for Democratic caution. The list of episodes that were supposed to end Mr. Trump — the “Access Hollywood” tape, the “very fine people” on both sides of a white supremacist rally, insulting John McCain's service as a prisoner of war — is longer than most voters' memories.

The president can register as more time-bending than Teflon. Plenty sticks to him; it just tends to be buried quickly enough by the next stack of outrages, limiting the exposure of any single one.

But if most Trump admirers have long since made up their minds about him, recent polling on his handling of the crisis does suggest some measure of electoral risk. Governors and public health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci are viewed as far more trustworthy on the pandemic, according to surveys.


Doctors Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, the top public health officials overseeing the federal response to the coronavirus, have struggled at times to clarify Mr. Trump's off-the-cuff statements. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.
Doctors Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, the top public health officials overseeing the federal response to the coronavirus, have struggled
at times to clarify Mr. Trump's off-the-cuff statements. — Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times.


Lily Adams, a former aide on the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris, who is now advising Unite the Country, a pro-Biden super PAC, said that swing voters in focus groups were especially dismayed at Mr. Trump's refusal to listen to experts.

“Any person who has ever done a load of laundry, or installed a child-proof lock on a cleaning supplies cabinet, or just looked at one of those skulls on the label, knows it's an idiotic idea,” she said.

Even some of the president's reliable cheerleaders at Fox News have not tried to defend him. And recent visitors to the Drudge Report — the powerful conservative news aggregation site whose proprietor, Matt Drudge, has increasingly ridiculed Mr. Trump of late — were greeted with a doctored image of “Clorox Chewables”. “Trump Recommended,” the tagline read. “Don't Die Maybe!”

For Mr. Trump, such mockery tends to singe. Since long before his 2016 campaign, few subjects have been as meaningful to him as appraisals of his intellect.

It is a source of perpetual obsession and manifest insecurity, former aides say, so much so that Mr. Trump has felt the need to allude to his brainpower regularly: tales of his academic credentials at the University of Pennsylvania; his “natural ability” in complicated disciplines; his connection to a “super genius” uncle, an engineer who taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When Rex Tillerson, the president's first secretary of state, was reported to have called Mr. Trump a “moron” in private — one of several former senior administration officials said to have rendered equivalent verdicts — Mr. Trump challenged him to “compare I.Q. tests.” A favorite Trump insult on Twitter, reserved for Mr. Biden among others, is “low I.Q. individual.”

“He doesn't want to feel like anybody is better than he is,” said Barbara A. Res, a former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, who recalled Mr. Trump bragging about his college grades. “He can't deal with that. I can see it now with the doctors, and that’s why he dismisses them. He used to be intimidated by lawyers. Anyone who knows more than he does makes him feel less than he is.”

Steve Schmidt, a former Republican strategist and prominent Trump critic, said the president's meditation on disinfectants stood apart from a trope that Mr. Schmidt came to recognize as an adviser to conservatives like Mr. Bush: “that the conservative candidate in the race was also always portrayed as the dumb candidate.”

“But a caricature is distinct from a narrative,” Mr. Schmidt said. And Mr. Trump's reckless medical fare, he reasoned, had given adversaries a narrative by confirming a caricature.

The president's own attempts at damage control have been scattershot. First, his new press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, accused the news media of taking Mr. Trump out of context. Shortly afterward, he undercut her case by saying his comments had in fact been a sarcastic prank on reporters, an explanation even some supporters found implausible.

He left his Friday briefing on the coronavirus without taking questions. By Saturday, when Mr. Trump tweeted that the events were “not worth the time & effort,” his opponents conceded this much:

The president had probably done something smart.


__________________________________________________________________________

Matt Flegenheimer is a reporter covering national politics for The New York Times. Mr. Flegenheimer started at The N.Y. Times in 2011 on the Metro desk covering transit, City Hall and campaigns. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a life-long New Yorker.

• A version of this article appears in The New York Times on Monday, April 27, 2020,  on page A1 of the New York print edition with the headline: “A Disinfectant That May Mar Trump's Teflon”.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/26/us/politics/trump-disinfectant.html
Report Spam   Logged

If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 
Kiwithrottlejockey
Admin Staff
XNC2 GOD
*
Posts: 31038


Having fun in the hills!


« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2020, 11:41:22 pm »


from The Washington Post…

13 hours of Trump: The president fills briefings
with attacks and boasts, but little empathy


A Washington Post analysis reveals a president using the White House lectern to vent and rage;
to dispense dubious and even dangerous medical advice;
and to lavish praise upon himself and his government.


By PHILIP BUMP and ASHLEY PARKER | 3:14PM EDT — Sunday, April 26, 2020

President Donald J. Trump speaks on Thursday during a coronavirus task force news conference at the White House. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
President Donald J. Trump speaks on Thursday during a coronavirus task force news conference at the White House.
 — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.


PRESIDENT TRUMP strode to the lectern in the White House briefing room on Thursday and, for just over an hour, attacked his rivals, dismissing Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as a “sleepy guy in a basement of a house” and lambasting the media as “fake news” and “lamestream.”

He showered praise on himself and his team, repeatedly touting the “great job” they were doing as he spoke of the “tremendous progress” being made toward a vaccine and how “phenomenally” the nation was faring in terms of mortality.

What he did not do was offer any sympathy for the 2,081 Americans who were reported dead from the coronavirus on that day alone — among the now more than 54,000 Americans who have perished since the pandemic began.

What began as daily briefings meant to convey public health information have become de facto political rallies conducted from the West Wing of the White House — events that are now in doubt after an uproar last week over Trump's suggestion of another bogus coronavirus cure. The president has offered little in the way of accurate medical information or empathy for coronavirus victims, instead focusing on attacking his enemies and lauding himself and his allies.

Trump has spoken for more than 28 hours in the 35 briefings held since March 16, eating up 60 percent of the time that officials spoke, according to a Washington Post analysis of annotated transcripts from Factbase, a data analytics company.

Over the past three weeks, the tally comes to more than 13 hours of Trump — including two hours spent on attacks and 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, but just 4½ minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims. He spent twice as much time promoting an unproven anti-malarial drug that was the object of a Food and Drug Administration warning on Friday. Trump also said something false or misleading in nearly a quarter of his prepared comments or answers to questions, the analysis shows.

Trump's freewheeling approach ended in a political crisis this past week, after the president's dangerous suggestion at a briefing on Thursday that injecting bleach or other disinfectants might cure the coronavirus — “almost as a cleaning.” The remarks set off a government-wide scramble and led to Trump telling aides on Friday he would skip briefings this weekend. White House officials say privately they are considering scaling back the events entirely.

“What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately,” Trump complained in a tweet on Saturday. “They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!”


In the 35 coronavirus task force briefings held since March 16, President Donald J. Trump has accounted for 60 percent of the time that officials spoke, according to a Washington Post analysis. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
In the 35 coronavirus task force briefings held since March 16, President Donald J. Trump has accounted for 60 percent of the time
that officials spoke, according to a Washington Post analysis. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.


The briefings have come to replace Trump's campaign rallies — now on pause during the global contagion — and fulfill the president's needs and impulses in the way his arena-shaking campaign events once did: a chance for him to riff, free-associate, spar with the media and occupy center stage.

The Washington Post analysis of Trump's daily coronavirus briefings over the past three weeks — from Monday, April 6, to Friday, April 24 — reveals a president using the White House lectern to vent and rage; to dispense dubious and even dangerous medical advice; and to lavish praise upon himself and his government.

Trump has attacked someone in 113 out of 346 questions he has answered — or a third of his responses. He has offered false or misleading information in nearly 25 percent of his remarks. And he has played videos praising himself and his administration's efforts three times, including one that was widely derided as campaign propaganda produced by White House aides at taxpayer expense.

The president repeatedly returns to the same topics, frequently treating questions as cues for familiar talking points.

He has, for instance, mentioned the nation's testing capacity in 14 percent of his comments, talked about the country's ventilator supply in 12 percent and waxed on about his imposition of travel bans — particularly from China — in 9 percent.

“These press conferences are 10 minutes of information, if you're lucky, and an hour and a half of self-congratulations and mis-information,” said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, the largest Democratic super PAC, which supports Biden. “It is the distillation of a Trump rally. It is the personification of a Trump rally.”

Vice President Pence, who heads the administration's coronavirus task force, holds second place in speaking time at the briefings since mid-March — about 5½ hours, or roughly 12 percent of the total.

The medical professionals also received significantly less airtime than Trump. Deborah Birx, who oversees the administration's virus response, spoke close to six hours, while Anthony S. Fauci, an infectious disease expert, spoke for just over two hours at 22 of the briefings.


President Donald J. Trump speaks alongside Vice President Mike Pence at a task force briefing. White House officials say privately they are considering scaling back the events. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
President Donald J. Trump speaks alongside Vice President Mike Pence at a task force briefing. White House officials say privately
they are considering scaling back the events. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.


Trump has also offered a response to a question posed to someone else more than a third of the time that occurred, including queries that the intended official had already answered.

Expressions of empathy from Trump are rare. The president has mentioned coronavirus victims in just eight briefings in three weeks, mostly in prepared remarks. In the first week of April, when the nation's focus was largely on the hard-hit New York region, Trump began several briefings by expressing his condolences for the victims there.

“We continue to send our prayers to the people of New York and New Jersey and to our whole country,” Trump said on April 6, offering similar sentiments the following day: “We grieve alongside every family who has lost a precious loved one.”

On April 19 — as the death toll in the United States climbed past 40,000 and more than 22 million Americans were unemployed — a CNN reporter sparked Trump's ire when he noted the grim milestones and asked, “Is this really the time for self-congratulations?”

“What I'm doing is, I'm standing up for the men and women that have done such an incredible job,” Trump responded. He added that he was “also sticking up for doctors and nurses and military doctors and nurses” before eventually angrily dismissing the question as “fake news.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the briefings are a way for the president to keep the public informed. “Millions and millions of Americans tune in each day to hear directly from President Trump and appreciate his leadership, unprecedented coronavirus response, and confident outlook for America's future,” McEnany said in a statement.

Like his campaign rallies, the president's portion of the daily briefings are rife with mis-information. Over the past three weeks, 87 of his comments or answers — a full 47 minutes — included factually inaccurate comments.


President Donald J. Trump speaks alongside Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, at a briefing last week. The president frequently answers questions addressed to other officials at the briefings. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
President Donald J. Trump speaks alongside Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, at a briefing last week.
The president frequently answers questions addressed to other officials at the briefings.
 — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.


Trump has mentioned the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible coronavirus cure in at least eight of his prepared remarks and responses, despite potentially dangerous side effects and no clear medical evidence that it helps treat the virus.

“Just recently, a friend of mine told me he got better because of the use of that — that drug. So, who knows?” said Trump in mid-April, adding, “And it's having some very good results, I'll tell you.”

After Trump's comments on injecting disinfectants at the Thursday briefing, aides and other loyalists initially said the president's remarks had been taken out of context. Then Trump claimed, despite his serious tone when making the suggestion, that he was just speaking “sarcastically” to get a rise out of reporters.

Some administration officials, outside Republicans and other Trump allies say the briefings have increasingly become a distraction, and they fear they are doing more to harm than help the president's re-election hopes. They worry that Trump is squandering the opportunity to demonstrate presidential leadership and be the “wartime president” he has claimed to be by picking petty fights and appearing childish and distracted.

But they also acknowledge they are unlikely to change Trump's behavior. Over the past three weeks, the president has tweeted five times about the briefing's “ratings,” which he frequently says are “through the roof.”

In recent days, aides have begun discussing adding an economic component to the virus response that would be separate from the daily briefing with public health officials, in part because they say one of the president's strengths is the economy. He might appear with executives of small businesses beginning to reopen or with manufacturers of personal protective equipment, a senior administration official said.

Advisers are also considering cutting the number of briefings or having the president attend less frequently, as well as discussing getting the president out on the road in the next few weeks.

Some Republicans see value in Trump's regular appearances in the briefing room. Much like the 2016 campaign, where he seemed to benefit from being ubiquitous if controversial, the coronavirus news conferences offer Trump an elevated platform, especially in the absence of regular campaign events, said Cliff Sims, a former White House aide.

“Everybody in the country is talking about one thing, and it happens to be the one thing that Donald Trump is the dominant player in, and he's leading that conversation,” Sims said. “Even visually, you still have Trump on your TV screen, in front of the White House logo in the briefing room, flanked by his advisers. And then you have Joe Biden very small on your computer screen, having a Zoom conversation with Al Gore.”


President Donald J, Trump stands in front of a video presentation during the April 20 briefing. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
President Donald J. Trump Trump stands in front of a video presentation during the April 20 briefing.
 — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.


The most frequent target of Trump's attacks during the briefings was Democrats (48 times, over roughly 30 minutes), including former president Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (California). His next-favorite subjects for criticism were the media (37 times, over roughly 25 minutes); the nation's governors (34, over 22 minutes); and China (31 times, over nearly 21 minutes).

Much like his rallies — where Trump often harangues the media from the stage and encourages chants of “CNN sucks!” — he uses his briefings as an opportunity to spar with and berate the press.

On Thursday, when a Washington Post reporter noted that people tuning into the briefings “want to get information and guidance and want to know what to do,” Trump turned his frustration on the reporter, whom he dismissed as “a total faker.”

“I'm the president, and you're fake news,” Trump said.

Cecil, the Democratic super PAC head, said his reaction was initially mixed when Trump began dominating the briefings. “You always have to be concerned when one side monopolizes so much of the coverage,” he said.

But Cecil said he thinks the daily routine will “ultimately hurt” Trump, especially as voters assess the president's performance against their own suffering. His super PAC has already produced ads using Trump's words from the briefings against him and plans to continue doing so going forward.

“It's much different to process these press conferences when the coverage before and after is the unprecedented number of people dying, the fact that we don't have tests,” he said. “Long term, it is hurting the president because people can see with their own eyes and what they are feeling in their own communities what the consequences are.”


__________________________________________________________________________

Yasmeen Abutaleb contributed to this report.

Philip Bump is a national correspondent for The Washington Post based in New York. Before joining The Post in 2014, he led politics coverage for The Wire at The Atlantic. He was educated at Ohio State University.

Ashley Parker is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2017, after 11 years at The New York Times, where she covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns and Congress, among other things. Parker is also an on-air contributor to NBC News and MSNBC. She holds a B.A. in English and Communications from University of Pennsylvania.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: How Trump's ego gets in the way of his coronavirus response

 • VIDEO: How ‘media bashing’ from Trump rallies is creeping into coronavirus briefings

 • The White House tried to move a reporter to the back of the press room, but she refused. Then Trump walked out.

 • Trump floats another bogus coronavirus cure — and his administration scrambles to stop people from injecting disinfectants

 • The Me President: Trump uses coronavirus briefing to focus on himself

 • Playboy correspondent demands access to White House briefing room

 • Commander of confusion: Trump sows uncertainty and seeks to cast blame in coronavirus crisis


https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/13-hours-of-trump-the-president-fills-briefings-with-attacks-and-boasts-but-little-empathy/2020/04/25/7eec5ab0-8590-11ea-a3eb-e9fc93160703_story.html
Report Spam   Logged

If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 
Kiwithrottlejockey
Admin Staff
XNC2 GOD
*
Posts: 31038


Having fun in the hills!


« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2020, 06:56:14 pm »


ROFLMAO  imagine having too defective an attention span to read & understand the daily security briefing.

Barak Obama used to handle reading and understanding the daily security briefing just fine. So why is Trump so mentally-defective in comparison?




from The Washington Post…

President's intelligence briefing book repeatedly cited virus threat

U.S. spy agency warnings were contained in the ‘President’s Daily Brief’,
a report that Trump routinely declines to read.


By GREG MILLER and ELLEN NAKASHIMA | 5:22PM EDT — Monday, April 27, 2020

President Donald J. Trump delivers a television national address on the coronavirus pandemic from the Oval Office on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post).
President Donald J. Trump delivers a television national address on the coronavirus pandemic from the Oval Office on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
 — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post).


UNITED STATES intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The repeated warnings were conveyed in issues of the President's Daily Brief, a sensitive report that is produced before dawn each day and designed to call the president's attention to the most significant global developments and security threats.

For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus's spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion's transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.

But the alarms appear to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience for even the oral summary he takes two or three times per week, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.

The advisories being relayed by U.S. spy agencies were part of a broader collection of worrisome signals that came during a period now regarded by many public health officials and other experts as a squandered opportunity to contain the outbreak.

As of Monday, more than 55,000 people in the United States had died of covid-19.

The frequency with which the coronavirus was mentioned in the PDB has not been previously reported, and U.S. officials said it reflected a level of attention comparable to periods when analysts have been tracking active terrorism threats, overseas conflicts or other rapidly developing security issues.

A White House spokesman disputed the characterization that Trump was slow to respond to the virus threat. “President Trump rose to fight this crisis head-on by taking early, aggressive historic action to protect the health, wealth and well-being of the American people,” said spokesman Hogan Gidley. “We will get through this difficult time and defeat this virus because of his decisive leadership.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is responsible for the PDB. In response to questions about the repeated mentions of coronavirus, a DNI official said, “The detail of this is not true.” The official declined to explain or elaborate.

U.S. officials emphasized that the PDB references to the virus included comprehensive articles on aspects of the global outbreak, but also smaller digest items meant to keep Trump and senior administration officials updated on the course of the contagion. Versions of the PDB are also shared with Cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking U.S. officials.

One official said that by mid- to late-January the coronavirus was being mentioned more frequently, either as one of the report's core articles or in what is known as an “executive update,” and that it was almost certainly called to Trump's attention orally.

The administration's first major step to arrest the spread of the virus came in late January, when Trump restricted travel between the United States and China, where the virus is believed to have originated late last year.

But Trump spent much of February publicly playing down the threat while his administration failed to mobilize for a major outbreak by securing supplies of protective equipment, developing an effective diagnostic test and preparing plans to quarantine large portions of the population.

Trump insisted publicly on February 26 that the number of cases “within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero,” and said the next day that “it's like a miracle, it will disappear.”

In reality, the virus was by then moving swiftly through communities across the United States, spreading virtually unchecked in New York City and other population centers until state governors began imposing sweeping lockdowns, requiring social distancing and all but closing huge sectors of the country's economy.

As late as March 10, Trump said: “Just stay calm. It will go away.” The next day, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

By then, officials said, the warnings in the PDB and other intelligence reports had taken on the aspect of an insistent drumbeat. The first mention of the coronavirus in the PDB came at the beginning of January, focusing on what at that point were troubling signs of a new virus spreading through the Chinese city of Wuhan, and the Chinese government's apparent efforts to conceal details of the outbreak.

In the ensuing weeks, U.S. intelligence agencies devoted additional resources and departments to tracking the spread of the coronavirus. At the CIA, the effort involved agency centers on China, Europe and Latin America, as well as departments devoted to transnational health threats, officials said.

The preliminary intelligence on the coronavirus was fragmentary, and did not address the prospects of a severe outbreak in the United States.

U.S. intelligence officials, citing scientific evidence, have largely dismissed the notion that the virus was deliberately genetically engineered. But they are continuing to examine whether the virus somehow escaped a virology lab in Wuhan, where research on naturally occurring coronaviruses has been conducted.

“We're looking at it very closely, but we just don't know,” said one senior U.S. intelligence official.

The warnings conveyed in the PDB probably will be a focus of any future investigation of the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic. Representative Adam B. Schiff (Democrat-California), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in early April called for the formation of an independent commission analogous to the one created to investigate the September 11, 2001, attacks.

In response to that probe, the George W. Bush administration was pressured to declassify portions of the PDB from August 2001 — a month before 9/11 — warning that al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was “determined to strike in U.S.”

Senior officials with direct knowledge of Trump's intelligence briefings say that Trump listens and asks questions during the sessions. “We go in and he treats us with respect,” one senior official said.

But Trump has also been combative or dismissive toward U.S. intelligence agencies throughout his presidency.

In mid-February, as the pathogen was spreading, Trump fired acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire after learning that a senior analyst had briefed members of Congress that Russia was seeking to interfere in the 2020 presidential election and had “developed a preference” for Trump.

Officials have noted that Trump was also contending with the Senate impeachment trial in January and focused on other security issues, including tracking Iran's response to a January 3 U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian commander, Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad.

David Priess, a former CIA officer who was a PDB briefer in the George W. Bush administration, said that even if Trump is ignoring his briefing book, other officials including national security adviser Robert O'Brien are probably digesting the material and interacting with Trump daily.

O’Brien's deputy, Matthew Pottinger, has a background in intelligence and was among a small circle of senior officials urging early action to contain the coronavirus, U.S. officials said. Pottinger pushed to close off air travel from Europe in February, officials said, but Trump did not do so until mid-March.

“The fact that [Trump] gets only two or three briefings a week from the intelligence professionals doesn't mean that's the only exposure to the PDB he's getting,” Priess said. “He can get the best intelligence in the world and still not make good decisions based on it.”

Priess, author of a book on intelligence briefings for presidents, said that Trump's predecessors have been varied in their approaches to consuming intelligence. President Barack Obama was considered an avid reader of “the book,” which was prepared for him on a specially equipped computer tablet. President George W. Bush reviewed the highlights of the PDB and often discussed its contents at length with his briefer. President Richard M. Nixon likely didn't read the PDB, Priess said, but was extensively briefed by his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.

Trump's top health officials and advisers were also delivering warnings on the coronavirus through January and February, though their messages at times appeared muddled and contradictory.

On February 25, Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned publicly that virus was spreading so rapidly that “we need to be prepared for significant disruption in our lives.”

Trump, traveling in India at the time, was outraged by what he regarded as the alarmist tone of her remarks and their perceived impact on the U.S. stock market.

Two days later, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testified before a Congressional committee that the risk to the public remained “low,” and that the coronavirus would “look and feel to the American people more like a severe flu season in terms of the interventions and approaches you will see.”

On March 11, with cases surging in New York and the stock market plummeting, Trump declared a national emergency and announced a ban on travel from Europe, which had become the new epicenter of the outbreak.


__________________________________________________________________________

Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Greg Miller covers national security for The Washington Post, and is the author of The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy, a book published in 2018 by The Washington Post and Harper Collins. Miller was among The Post reporters awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Russia's interference in the 2016 election and the fallout under the Trump administration. Miller was also part of the team awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for the paper's stories about U.S. surveillance programs exposed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. He holds a B.S. from University of California at Davis; and a M.A. from Stanford University.

Ellen Nakashima is a national security reporter for The Washington Post. She covers issues relating to cybersecurity, surveillance, counterterrorism and intelligence. She has probed Russia's efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and contacts between aides to President Trump and Russian officials. In 2014, she and her colleagues were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for reporting on the hidden scope of government surveillance and its policy implications. Nakashima has also served as a Southeast Asia correspondent and covered the White House and Virginia state politics. She joined The Post in 1995. She was educated at City University, London, where she was awarded a M.A. in international journalism; and at University of California at Berkeley where she earned a B.A. in humanities.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: 34 times Trump down-played the coronavirus

 • The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged


https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/presidents-intelligence-briefing-book-repeatedly-cited-virus-threat/2020/04/27/ca66949a-8885-11ea-ac8a-fe9b8088e101_story.html
Report Spam   Logged

If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 

Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Open XNC2 Smileys
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum


Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy
Page created in 0.234 seconds with 13 queries.