In February of 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the United States and eventually wound up infecting millions of Americans, former President Donald Trump told aides gathered in the White House Situation Room that it would be a good idea to quarantine any American infected with the disease at Guantánamo Bay.
That’s one of the stunning revelations laid out in a new book by Washington Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta entitled “Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History.”
Trump brought up the subject of Guantánamo not once, but twice, according to the book:
“We import goods,” Trump specified, lecturing his staff. “We are not going to import a virus.”
Aides were stunned, and when Trump brought it up a second time, they quickly scuttled the idea,worried about a backlash over quarantining American tourists on the same Caribbean base where the United States holds terrorism suspects.
The former president was also furious that national testing for the COVID-19 virus was exposing new cases of those who had the disease. But Trump’s fear of testing turned out to be selfish: He was terrified the skyrocketing numbers would cost him reelection:
“Testing is killing me!” Trump reportedly complained the then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on March 18. “I’m going to lose the election because of testing! What idiot had the federal government do testing?
Ironically, the lack of adequate testing in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak was a major contributor to the virulent spread of the disease which has killed over 600,000 people since it arrived in the U.S.
The Trump White House was also hampered by the simple fact that no one was in charge of the federal response to COVID:
“One of the biggest flaws in the Trump administration’s response is that no one was in charge of the response,” Abutaleb and Paletta write. “Was it Birx, the task force coordinator? Was it Pence, head of the task force? Was it Trump, the boss? Was it Kushner, running the shadow task force until he wasn’t? Was it Marc Short or Mark Meadows, often at odds, rarely in sync?”
“Ultimately, there was no accountability, and the response was rudderless,” they conclude.
Remember when he was running for president and Trump promised to hire “only the best people”? Turns out he was one of the worst people on the face of the planet to lead the country during a crisis. Too bad we didn’t learn that before he was elected.
Featured Image Via NBC News