President Trump’s head popped up during his top-secret intelligence briefing in the Oval Office on Jan. 28 when the discussion turned to the coronavirus outbreak in China.
“This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien told Trump, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward. “This is going to be the roughest thing you face.”
Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, agreed. He told the president that after reaching contacts in China, it was evident that the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.
Ten days later, Trump called Woodward and revealed that he thought the situation was far more dire than what he had been saying publicly.
“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”
“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.
At that time, Trump was telling the nation that the virus was no worse than a seasonal flu, predicting it would soon disappear and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control. It would be several weeks before he would publicly acknowledge that the virus was no ordinary flu and that it could be transmitted through the air.
70 days: The U.S. was beset by denial and dysfunction as the coronavirus raged
Trump admitted to Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said. [Continue reading…]
President Trump denigrated senior American military officials when he told his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, during a meeting in 2017 that his top generals were weak and overly concerned with their relationships with allies, according to a new book by the journalist Bob Woodward.
And in a discussion with Mr. Woodward, Mr. Trump called the United States military “suckers” for paying extensive costs to protect South Korea.
“We’re defending you, we’re allowing you to exist,” Mr. Trump said of South Korea, to a stunned Mr. Woodward.
In the 2017 meeting, Mr. Woodward quoted Mr. Trump as telling Mr. Navarro that “my fucking generals are a bunch of pussies. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals.” [Continue reading…]