Speed Reads

early warning signs

Government officials reportedly 'just couldn't get' Trump to do anything about coronavirus early on

The Trump administration has taken some heat for what many consider a delayed response to the coronavirus pandemic that's now sweeping through the country. But, The Washington Post reports, there were apparently numerous government officials who tried to warn the president about the repercussions as early as January.

U.S. officials familiar with spy agency reporting told the Post the intelligence community issued warnings that China, where the new virus originated, was minimizing its own outbreak earlier in the year and that the U.S. could be facing a crisis. "Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn't get him to do anything about it," one official said. "The system was blinking red."

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reportedly couldn't get Trump to speak with him about the virus until mid-January, two weeks after officials were alerted about its spread in China. Even then, Trump was reportedly more interested in when flavored vaping products were going to return to the market.

In late January, Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, argued the virus could cost Trump re-election, while Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger began calling for a more forceful response in early February. But despite all that, Trump maintained his belief the threat would dissipate before it became serious in the U.S. Read more at The Washington Post.