When assessing any kind of crisis response by a government, the two most important questions are always “what did they know and when did they know it?”
As the American death toll from the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic pushes past 33,000 lives lost, the answers to those questions are more pressing than ever. Disturbingly, as the weeks go by it is becoming more and more clear that the Trump administration had all the warnings in the world that it deliberately ignored time and time again.
Israel’s Channel 12 news reported last night that U.S. intelligence warned the Israeli government about the threat posed by COVID-19 as early as last November, even before the Chinese publicly revealed the existence of the disease to the rest of the world.
United States intelligence naturally warned the Trump administration as well, “which did not deem it of interest,” according to the Times of Israel.
Just last night, President Trump was publicly complaining about how the international community should have been told sooner about the virus and that “people knew but didn’t want to talk about it.”
Trump says he's angry he wasn't told there was an epidemic: "And I was angry, because this should have been told to us. It should have been told to us early. It should have been told to us a lot sooner. People knew it was happening and people didn't want to talk about it." pic.twitter.com/XgWWaXAWTF
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) April 16, 2020
It’s now clear that he was told sooner about the virus and could have done any number of things to prepare for a pandemic, which the Pentagon has been warning for years was a high threat to the United States.
President Trump was first briefed on the threat posed by the virus on January 18th, just three days after the first COVID-19 case in the United States was discovered. On January 29th, economic advisor Peter Navarro warned the White House in a memo that the novel coronavirus could kill half a million Americans and cause trillions in economic damage.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar personally warned Trump about the pandemic on January 30th, the same day that the World Health Organization declared the virus a global pandemic. In all, Trump’s administration would be warned at least ten times in the time between the discovery of the virus and the declaration of a national emergency on March 11th.
His failure to take any action to stop the spread of the virus before it was too late places all 33,000 of those deaths on his shoulders. Not only can we not afford to let him govern this great nation for another four years, justice demands some kind of investigation and trial for what is an open-and-shut case of criminal negligence that has led to tens of thousands of dead Americans.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.