Trump Denied Responsibility for Slashing His Pandemic Team. Last Month He Was Bragging About Cuts.

President Donald Trump declares a national emergency due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 13, 2020 in Washington, DC.Oliver Contreras/CNP via Zuma

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“I just think that’s a nasty question.”

That was Trump’s response when, at Friday afternoon’s coronavirus press conference, PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor pressed the president about why he refused to take responsibility for disbanding the White House office for pandemic preparedness, in March 2018.

“When you say me, I didn’t do it,” Trump scoffed. “I mean, you say we did that. I don’t know anything about it.”

In reality, the White House got rid of its global health security team in a 2018 John Bolton-led reshuffle. With the sudden departure of its leader, there was no top-ranking White House official looking after how the US should respond to crises like the coronavirus.

But when it suits the president, he’s more than happy to brag about budget cuts to health agencies, citing his business prowess.

Last month, responding to a question from a reporter about why he has consistently called for “enormous cuts to the CDC, the NIH, and the WHO,” Trump responded: “I’m a businessperson. I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When we need them, we can get them back very quickly.”

My colleague Mark Helenowski put this video together to show what a difference a few short weeks can make.

 

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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