As early as February 2020, senior advisers to then-President Donald Trump privately warned of the American government’s “critical mistakes” in the looming face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the House subcommittee on the pandemic obtained emails that put Trump’s fervid declarations that the pandemic was “totally under control” in stark contrast with his advisers’ warnings behind the scenes. In a message to Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, virologist and adviser Steven Hatfill wrote, “In truth we do not have a clue how many are infected in the USA. We are expecting the first wave to spread in the U.S. within the next 7 days.” He recommended “frank honesty” and “decisive direct actions.” Neither would come.
Hours before, Trump had crowed that his response to the pandemic had so far been “pretty amazing,” and accused Democrats of making the virus “their next hoax.” A few days after Hatfill’s email, Navarro penned a memo to Trump that his administration’s actions were “NOT fast enough” and that a “very serious public health emergency” was coming.