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

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

“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.

 

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate