Former White House senior adviser on the COVID-19 response Andy Slavitt said Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation” that former President Donald Trump committed “deadly sins” which worsened the coronavirus pandemic.
Partial transcript as follows:
JOHN DICKERSON: We’ve talked a lot about American culture, the roles that experts play, Americans play. But let’s now talk about the Trump administration. Give me your assessment of what’s the most important thing to recognize about the Trump administration’s handling of this.
SLAVITT: So we would have had- we would have had a pandemic without the Trump administration. But there were three I think- I think deadly sins that the Trump administration made that played out. The first was his power that he believed to deny the very existence of the virus or the potency of it, and to get his followers to go along with it. You know, if he- if he simply hadn’t done that and simply said, hey, we’ve got a problem, we would have been in a very different situation. The second was his- his quashing of dissent. As I- as I laid out in the book that comes out, early in this pandemic in February, they sent out orders to the Department of Health and Human Services for 45 days they were not even allowed to talk to the press simply because Alex Azar wanted to say the expression that things were going fine but could change rapidly. They- they really and that whether it was that or Nancy Messonnier or Tony Fauci, anybody that disagreed with the narrative the president wanted was squashed. And then the third was, I think, really almost extra credit was taking the divisions in the country and playing- playing into them. And I think that sort of the populist nature- being a populist during a pandemic is really not a great combination because you’re going to have to make some tough decisions. You’re going to have to make people unhappy. And I think Trump saw in his base a stirring of anti-mask characterizations and other things, and he played into those things because I think it felt like a different route. And I think those three things were things that were, you know, cost us a lot of lives
DICKERSON: In the last 20 seconds here, the Wuhan lab leak, if the United States had- had just assumed it had come out of a lab, would there have been any way in which the response would have been different to the actual virus?
SLAVITT: You know, I’m not sure about that. I don’t think that- I don’t think so. Look, I think we should, first of all, nobody knows what’s happened, yet. We need this investigated. We need to- we need China to be forthcoming and we need to be very forceful about it. But to this point, nobody really knows what happened. There are cases to be made on both sides. I agree with Dr. Gottlieb, in his perspective that you’ve got you’ve got characterizations that can go either way. An interesting anecdote in the book where this was all explained to President Trump through a bedtime story, so that may be a part of the book that would- would kind of reflect how he was thinking about this.
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