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

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“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.

 

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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