After wasting everyone’s time with a propaganda video at Monday evening’s White House coronavirus task force briefing, Donald Trump felt cornered. CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid asked about an obvious month-long gap in Trump’s timeline of “decisive action.” Although Reid was simply doing her job as a journalist, Trump replied by calling her “disgraceful,” then promised a list to prove he did “a lot.”
The Trump War Room Twitter account (managed by the Trump 2020 campaign) soon tweeted a list, but it is so sparse and weak to be almost laughable. A convincing list should open with an entry that paints the Trump administration as showing strong leadership. Instead, the first item implies quite the opposite: “February 12: The CDC was prepared to travel to China but had yet to receive permission from the Chinese government.”
A few entries later, the timeline reads: “February 22: A WHO team of international experts arrives in Wuhan, China.” The World Health Organization (WHO) is part of the United Nations Economics and Security Council and based in Switzerland. Even if the Trump War Room did not forget to point out that two of the 25 experts on the team were from the United States, this entry hardly counts as an example of the Trump administration’s “decisive action.”
An hour after posting this pathetic timeline, the Trump War Room dug itself into an even deeper hole. A new tweet proclaimed, “Top Biden Advisor in February: Trump Admin is ‘Far From Doing Nothing,’” and features a looping video clip of Ron Klain, who served as President Obama’s Ebola Czar, uttering what we are supposed to believe is a bombshell admission.
As usual, context is key. Klain was speaking on a February 11 panel at The Aspen Institute’s discussion, “Coronavirus: The New Pandemic?” The moderator asked Klain how he thinks preparations in the United States were going. Klain began by replying that “it’s a bit of a mixed bag.” He then questioned the effectiveness and motive of Trump’s limited travel restrictions from China.
While Klain did remark that the Trump administration was “far from doing nothing,” he immediately added that it’s “not my point.” He explained that “the point is that you got to be really careful about what you do, you got to base it on science and medical expertise, and then you got to be candid with the American people about what you’re doing and what kind of effect it’s going to have.” (You can watch Klain’s full remarks here, starting at 10:22).
Not only did the Trump War Room misrepresent Klain’s words, but this new tweet ignores the fact that the panel happened to take place one day before the beginning of the timeline tweeted earlier. This means that no matter what Klain said, it was prior to the inexcusable gap in the propaganda video that Reid was correct to question. It is time for the Trump War Room to surrender.