Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

Trump's daily briefings warned repeatedly about the coronavirus in January and February, officials say

President Trump's daily intelligence briefing included detailed warnings by early January about the new coronavirus spreading through China, ABC News reported in early April. But there were actually prominent warnings in more than a dozen of the classified President's Daily Brief reports throughout January and February, The Washington Post reported Monday evening.

"For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus's spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion's transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences," the Post reports, citing current and former U.S. officials. "But the alarms appear to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience for even the oral summary he takes two or three times per week."

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump's "early, aggressive historic action" and "decisive leadership" will lead the U.S. out of this crisis. An official at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which prepares the PDB, told the Post that "the detail of this is not true," declining to explain or elaborate on the comment. Trump replaced DNI Joseph Maguire in mid-February with a loyalist, Richard Grenell.

Trump would not have been the only White House official to get the intelligence warnings about the spreading coronavirus, and the other officials would discuss a threat this prominent with the president, David Priess, a former CIA officer who briefed President George W. Bush, told the Post. Trump "can get the best intelligence in the world and still not make good decisions based on it."

Trump was asked at Monday's hastily ressurected coronavirus briefing: "If an American president loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died in the entirety of the Vietnam war, does he deserve to be reelected?" Trump said "we've lost a lot of people" — more than 56,000 as of Monday night — but it's a lower number than early projections of up to 2.2. million. Peter Weber