Trump praised China against advice from its health secretary: book
- Trump’s HHS secretary desperately tried to stop Trump from tweeting Chinese President Xi Jinping’s praise for his response to the pandemic.
- “For god’s sake, don’t do that,” Alex Azar told Trump, according to a new book.
- When Trump ignored him, Azar rushed to other officials to prevent him from sending the tweet, but it was too late.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
Former President Donald Trump’s former Health and Human Services secretary desperately tried to prevent him from releasing a tweet praising Chinese President Xi Jinping’s response to the pandemic in January 2020, according to ” Nightmare Scenario: In the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, ”by Damian Paletta and Yasmeen Abutaleb of the Washington Post.
At the time, the coronavirus had gained a foothold in the United States and Trump officials were trying to make him understand the gravity of the situation.
“Mr. President, this is really bad. It is getting really bad in China, and it happens to us,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar told Trump at an Oval Office meeting this month.
Trump then asked if China was cooperating with the United States to combat the spread of the deadly disease.
Azar said China was cooperating to some extent but it was not enough, and the United States should pressure the Chinese government to force it to do more and allow officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor the situation. on the ground.
At this point, “Trump thought out loud,” I’m going to post a tweet praising Xi, “” the book says.
Azar immediately replied, “For God’s sake, don’t do this.”
But Trump ignored the call. He had just struck a trade deal with China that he said would bolster his political support in the Midwest and thought it would be smart to take his hat off to Xi, according to the book.
When Trump refused to give in, Azar left the Oval Office “and then sprinted through the West Wing, trying to outrun President Trump’s tweet,” according to the book.
He appealed to White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, saying, “Robert, you have to stop this. You can’t let him tweet praising President Xi. It is premature. This is not correct. . “
Azar also planned to ask then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to step in and stop Trump from sending the tweet. But it was too late. Dan Scavino, who was then Trump’s senior social media adviser, had previously drafted the tweet and obtained Trump’s approval.
“China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus,” Trump wrote on Twitter on January 24, 2020. “The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and their transparency. Everything will work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American people, I would like to thank President Xi. “
To date, more than 600,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and more than 33 million have been infected. Tony Fabrizio, the Trump campaign’s top pollster, published a report in February, which revealed that Trump’s disastrous handling of the pandemic may have cost him the presidential election.
In addition to ignoring the recommendations of his advisers at the onset of the pandemic, Trump has frequently and publicly questioned top scientists like Dr. Anthony Fauci; refused to follow CDC guidelines; and contracted the disease himself last October.
Several other people in the White House, including Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and his chief communications officer Hope Hicks, have tested positive, and more than 50 people in Trump’s global orbit have caught the virus .