Donald Trump accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of what he is accused of and lambasted independent federal inspectors who dare not submit to his official line as further evidence emerged that the White House had known of the potential severity of the pandemic since late January without acting, with consequences more than visible today in this city and across the country.
Trump, in his almost daily briefing, continued his practice of holding others accountable for almost any problem he faces, and this time it was the World Health Organization – the world’s largest multilateral public health organization in the midst of a pandemic. Trump threatened to suspend the U.S. contribution to the WHO, because they “failed” to warn of the pandemic, and “were wrong,” and continued to accuse them of “not seeing” the beginning, and “not reporting” it – all of which is false. But that’s just what Trump has been criticized for.
In fact, more irrefutable evidence was revealed today that Trump and his circle were more than aware of the potential danger of such a pandemic, contradicting a president who insists that “no one could have known.” Since late January, confirmed by Axios and the New York Times, a memo was circulated at the White House warning that the coronavirus could result in up to half a million deaths in this country and an economic cost of nearly $6 billion.
The memorandum was drafted by Peter Navarro an economic advisor of the President, who then prepared a second memorandum at the end of February that was even more alarming, pointing out the possibility of 100 million infected and 2 million dead in this country if action was not taken immediately.
Trump said today that he never saw the memo and that if he had read it, he still would make the same decisions.
The consequences of Trump’s handling of the crisis were more than apparent in what is still called the “epicenter” of the pandemic in the United States. The governor of New York State reported the highest number of deaths related to Covid-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus, in the last 24 hours – a total of 731 – with New York already surpassing Italy in the number of people infected with almost 140,000 of the more than 380,000 cases nationally. However, the governor indicated that hospitalizations may have reached their peak, which could indicate the beginning of a decline in new cases for the first time.
Nationally, more than 1,700 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today, the highest number of deaths in a single day.
Meanwhile, Trump fired the Pentagon inspector general who had been appointed by a panel of general inspectors to oversee the use of the $2 trillion mega-financial support package approved by the federal government last week, in yet another act against any attempt to impose any kind of independent oversight on the presidential branch.
As part of the same, today he criticized, by way of twitter, the report of the Health Secretary’s independent inspector after a report from her office detailing extensive delays in providing diagnostic test kits and shortages of medical equipment in the country’s hospitals; Trump wrote that it was “another bogus dossier,” and accused the official of being loyal to Barack Obama. And last week, Trump fired the Inspector General of Intelligence, who sent, in the line of duty, the informant’s report into the White House that led to the president’s impeachment.
In fact, and in large part because of its failure to respond immediately and appropriately to this crisis, the Trump administration now faces – if its official estimate of a “best-case scenario” of only 100,000 deaths is true – more American deaths than the Korean and Vietnam War casualties combined.