Sunday Mar 22, 2020
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump ignored warnings from intelligence agencies in January when the novel coronavirus started spreading in China, US media reported on Saturday.
According to The Washington Post, intelligence agencies depicted the nature and global spread of the coronavirus when it began spreading from Wuhan in China. However, the US president wasn’t interested enough.
"Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn't get him to do anything about it," a US official familiar with the intelligence agencies reports spoke to the Post. "The system was blinking red."
White House Spokesperson Hogan Gidley rejected the news, saying that Trump was taking “historic, aggressive measures to protect the health, wealth and safety of American people”.
“The media and Democrats chose to only focus on the stupid politics of a sham illegitimate impeachment," Gidley told the paper in a statement. "It's more than disgusting, despicable and disgraceful for cowardly unnamed sources to attempt to rewrite history — it's a clear threat to this great country.”
Meanwhile, CNN stated that a source revealed to the channel that the congressional intelligence committees were briefed on the coronavirus threat in January and February. The intelligence agencies’ reports did not predict whether the virus will hit the US or not but that the Chinese government was downplaying its severity.
Senior administration members told the paper that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wasn’t able to hold a meeting with Trump on the virus till January 18, 2020. During the meeting, the president interrupted him to ask when sale of vaping products will resume, indicating Trump’s non-serious attitude towards the virus.
The paper further said that the American president did not take the virus seriously and instead, chose to believe Chinese President Xi Jinping’s information on the impact of the novel virus.