Trump Was Warned About the Coronavirus More Than a Dozen Times In Daily Intel Briefings but Ignored the Warnings.
Since the coronavirus outbreak exploded in the U.S., President Donald Trump has liked to portray the surging pandemic as a totally shocking problem that no one could have seen coming. “It snuck up on us,” Trump said on March 18, calling the virus “a very unforeseen thing.” It has now become very clear, of course, that the president and his administration were not in any way caught off-guard by the pandemic, receiving multiple heads-up about the looming catastrophe as the virus starting its spread from such sources as the World Health Organization, multiple federal agencies, and even Trump’s own economic adviser. (The administration also decided to ignore a literal step-by-step guide on how to deal with a pandemic from the outgoing Obama administration, along with a September report from White House economists warning about the toll a potential pandemic could take, and urging them to start preparing now.) Now, the Washington Post reports that warnings about the coronavirus even made their way directly to the Oval Office as part of the president’s daily intelligence briefing—you know, the one that he famously likes to totally ignore.
Per the Post, intelligence agencies warned Trump about the novel coronavirus in “more than a dozen classified briefings” in January and February, which traced the virus’s spread, China’s downplaying of the threat, and “raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.” The warnings came via the President’s Daily Briefing, a daily report controlled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that informs the president about significant geopolitical developments and potential security threats. The virus was mentioned in the PDB both through in-depth articles and smaller updates on the latest coronavirus news, and mentions of the coronavirus in the PDB became more frequent by mid-to-late January. Given its prominence in the written briefings, a version of which is also made available to high-ranking officials, the coronavirus “was almost certainly called to Trump’s attention orally” through the oral briefings the president prefers over having to actually read the intel documents himself, the Post reports. (The DNI Office said in a statement to the Post that “the detail of this is not true” in response to their reporting, and the White House “disputed the characterization that Trump was slow to respond to the virus threat.”)
More at Vanity Fair