At a political rally on February 29, 2020, then-President Donald Trump bragged about the limited number of COVID-19 infections in the United States and called his administration’s response to the virus “pretty amazing.” But that same day, a senior White House advisor warned of “critical mistakes in implementing the most basic measure in infectious disease control.”
Emails obtained by the House’s select subcommittee on the pandemic reveal that virologist and White House advisor Steven Hatfill thought the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had blundered through the early days of the pandemic by distributing “ineffective test kits.”
Hatfill emailed Trump trade advisor 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,” Hatfill added. “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 Washington Post reports:
After receiving Hatfill’s warning, Navarro privately warned Trump in a March 1, 2020 memo that the government’s response was “NOT fast enough” and that a “very serious public health emergency” was looming, but Trump continued to downplay the virus’s risks in public.
“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,” Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in a letter to Navarro on Tuesday, which requests all documents related to the pandemic response.
The emails between Hatfill and Navarro were from personal accounts. In his letter, Clyburn said that “raise[s] 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.”
The Washington Post notes that Hatfill and Navarro attempted to promote hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, but were stymied by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. The two Trump advisors bemoaned Fauci’s “outrageous bias.”
Fauci’s opposition was informed by a lack of evidence.