It was apparently Mark Meadows who ultimately convinced President Trump to forget a mask mandate—and polling data suggesting Republicans would accept one—telling him that “the base will revolt,” according to The New York Times. The White House chief of staff reportedly made the argument at a late July meeting, where Trump’s main pollster had presented data showing that a majority of Republicans in states they were targeting supported a mask requirement for public indoor spaces. Despite his findings, Trump—who had previously shown signs of coming around on the issue of masks, even agreeing to don one for his visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center—was quick to listen to Meadows’ advice. “I’m not doing a mask mandate,” he reportedly said.
The New York Times report catalogues several other disturbing details of the White House’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. At one point over the summer, Trump reportedly shouted at son-in-law Jared Kushner, “You’re killing me! This whole thing is! We’ve got all the damn cases.” “I want to do what Mexico does,” the president added. “They don’t give you a test till you get to the emergency room and you’re vomiting.”