U.S. Intelligence Director Denies Report COVID-19 Was In Trump Briefings, Despite Evidence To The Contrary

Acting Director of U.S. Intelligence, Richard Grenell, is issuing vague denials in response to reports that Trump was repeatedly informed about COVID-19. In a tweet Monday evening, he responded to news stories but did not elaborate on what details he claims are false. However, there is ample evidence that the Trump administration was well aware of the virus in early 2020, and even in the last months of 2019.

Ellen Nakishima, a reporter for the Washington Post, tweeted Monday evening to share her story on Trump’s intelligence briefings. Her article outlines the repeated warnings Trump had about the danger of the virus, and Trump’s February response, in which he repeatedly understated and trivialized the risks.

The article specifically noted that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had responded in denial of her account, but had refused to define exactly what details were inaccurate.

Grenell’s response remains equally vague. He only claims that the report is “not true,” without any explanation of why. He started Tuesday Morning off with another denial as Vanity Fair also ran an account of Trump’s briefings.

However, the broadest points of the article — the fact that Trump’s administration absolutely knew COVID-19 existed and was a serious threat, and that the response failed to include sufficient protective equipment and testing supplies in a timely manner — is supported by ample evidence.

In January, Trump’s name was signed to an order limiting travel from China. The proclamation noted known dangers of the virus, not only medically but to national interest:

Manifestations of severe disease have included severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, and multi-organ failure.

…Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that the virus presents a serious public health threat.

…the public health system could be overwhelmed if sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus occurred in the United States. Sustained human-to-human transmission has the potential to have cascading public health, economic, national security, and societal consequences.

Even months before Trump publicly acknowledged the devastation COVID-19 could wreak on the United States, his administration reportedly found it serious enough to pass on information to NATO and Israel, reports Times of Israel, but not urgent or severe enough to act on. This was in November 2019, months before the U.S. government began to act by recommending social distancing, supplying tests and protective equipment to hospitals, or warning the public to take extra sanitization precautions.

Others, including Representative Ted Lieu, were quick to note that a growing viral threat would be included in intelligence briefings.

Trump’s intelligence briefings are, naturally, classified, and there will almost certainly never be a public release that will prove exactly how man times they contained warnings of the spread of the virus. However, his own words (or, at the very least, a proclamation to which his signature was appended in approval), and his administration’s actions in passing on information, confirm undeniably that he was given access to information about the dangers, long before supportive actions were taken to protect Americans.

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