A video has emerged of Donald Trump talking about cutting the US pandemic response team in 2018 – days after claiming that he knew nothing about the disbanded White House unit.
Trump said of the pandemic team that “some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used for many, many years and if we ever need them we can get them very quickly and rather then spending the money”.
“I’m a business person, I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them,” he added.
Video emerges showing Trump talking about cutting pandemic team in 2018, despite saying last week ‘I didn’t know about it’ | The Independent https://t.co/Towyf1hwKw
— Chelsea Peretti (@chelseaperetti) March 17, 2020
Trump has come under fire in recent days for his decision to disband the National Security Council directorate at the White House responsible for planning the US’s preparedness for future pandemics.
The National Security Council’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense was created under President Barack Obama after the 2014 Ebola outbreak, The New York Times pointed out. It included health and biodefense experts to coordinate the U.S. response to global health threats.
A former director of the unit, Dr Beth Cameron, used an op-ed in The Washington Post to say that “it is clear that eliminating the office has contributed to the federal government’s sluggish domestic response”.
In a press conference on Friday, Mr Trump denied knowing anything about the cuts in 2018 when questioned by Yamiche Alcindor, a reporter for PBS.
After denying that his administration was responsible for any failures in the roll-out of American coronavirus testing, Alcindor had asked Mr Trump: “You said that you don’t take responsibility, but you did disband the White House pandemic office, and the officials that were working in that office left this administration abruptly. So what responsibility do you take to that?”
Trump responded by saying: “Well, I just think it’s a nasty question …You say we did that, I don’t know anything about it.”
But he did.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) called out Trump for claiming ignorance of his actions to disband the pandemic team. Last week, Brown circulated a letter he sent the White House in 2018 questioning the wisdom of eliminating the global health security office:
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) March 13, 2020
“The administration’s proposed budget cuts threaten our ability to respond to a public health emergency,” Brown warned at the time. “In our globalized world, where diseases are never more than a plane ride away, we must do all we can to prepare for the next, inevitable outbreak and keep Americans safe from disease.
“I urge you to act swiftly in reaffirming your commitment to global health security by taking immediate action to designate senior-level NSC personnel to focus on global health security, supporting adequate and appropriate funding for global health security initiatives, and leading the way in preparing for the next pandemic threat.”Attribution:The Independent