WAPO: No, the White House didn’t ‘dissolve’ its pandemic response office. I was there.

Link to source _behind paywall_.

One of the more remarkable untruths critics of President Trump persist in circulating is the claim that Trump dissolved the pandemic response team President Obama had set up in the White House, making our nation less safe. This untruth has been repeatedly debunked. Tim Morrison, former senior director for counterproliferation and biodefense on the National Security Council” wrote a new debunking, which the Washington Post published a couple of days ago. Here’s hoping Forum users will stop repeating the false claim.

A few of Morrison’s main points:

  • “It has been alleged by multiple officials of the Obama administration, including in The Post, that the president and his then-national security adviser, John Bolton, ‘dissolved the office’ at the White House in charge of pandemic preparedness. Because I led the very directorate assigned that mission, the counterproliferation and biodefense office, for a year and then handed it off to another official who still holds the post, I know the charge is specious.”
  • “It is true that the Trump administration has seen fit to shrink the NSC staff. But the bloat that occurred under the previous administration clearly needed a correction…from the Clinton administration to the Obama administration’s second term, the NSC’s staff ‘had quadrupled in size, to nearly 400 people.’ That is why Trump began streamlining the NSC staff in 2017.”
  • “One such move at the NSC was to create the counterproliferation and biodefense directorate, which was the result of consolidating three directorates into one, given the obvious overlap between arms control and nonproliferation, weapons of mass destruction terrorism, and global health and biodefense. It is this reorganization that critics have misconstrued or intentionally misrepresented. If anything, the combined directorate was stronger because related expertise could be commingled.”
  • “The reduction of force in the NSC has continued since I departed the White House. But it has left the biodefense staff unaffected — perhaps a recognition of the importance of that mission to the president, who, after all, in 2018 issued a presidential memorandum to finally create real accountability in the federal government’s expansive biodefense system.”

7 thoughts on “WAPO: No, the White House didn’t ‘dissolve’ its pandemic response office. I was there.

    1. Probably could have used a little of that “bloat” back in December.

      Time and energy spent on arguing about this is merely more distract/deflect at this point.

      History will lay bare the screw-ups in due time and I’m sure the list is still growing anyway…

      Liked by 2 people

  1. He said, himself, that he’s a business man and he got rid of those people because he didn’t like having people around that he didn’t need.

    So, that leads me to believe he has no idea what ‘insurance’ is.

    Sure, he didn’t have a pandemic sitting on his doorstep every day; but, I’ll bet the farm that he understands today what those people were doing in his administration (and past administrations). . . ah, studying, working with other countries re: processes, etc. that would be needed if OUR country ever found our citizens involved in a pandemic.

    ‘djt’ has got no better at leading a country than he was when he and his then ‘girlfriend’ were being interviewed every other week by Howard Stern.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The difference between a Trump political appointee and a NASA manager? On January 29, 1986 it was impossible to find a NASA manager who took pride in his efforts to launch the Challenger against the advice of the engineers.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This was an opinion by the a Trump administration person who is now on a hard right wing think tank and an Ingraham guest on FOX.

    Fair enough. Let’s at least here their story.

    The directorate was dissolved and he admitted as much. It was absorbed into a larger group that he posits as being better and more capable.

    So here is the other side of the story written as an opinion by Beth Cameron.

    “ Beth Cameron is vice president for global biological policy and programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. She previously served as the senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/nsc-pandemic-office-trump-closed/2020/03/13/a70de09c-6491-11ea-acca-80c22bbee96f_story.html

    “ Another critical task came in early 2017, when we began transitioning pandemic preparedness to the incoming Trump administration. As a civil servant and the head of the directorate, I remained at the White House for several months after the transition. I attended senior-level meetings and directly briefed the homeland security adviser and the national security adviser. After I left the White House that March, pandemic preparedness remained on the agenda; my office remained intact under the leadership of my well-respected successor, Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer; and the national security adviser was tracking H7N9 and other emerging threats.

    “ It’s unclear whether the decision to disband the directorate, which was made in May 2018, after John Bolton became national security adviser, was a tactical move to downgrade the issue or whether it was part of the White House’s interest in simplifying and shrinking the National Security Council staff. Either way, it left an unclear structure and strategy for coordinating pandemic preparedness and response. Experts outside government and on Capitol Hill called for the office’s reinstatement at the time.
    Its absence now is all too evident. In his remarks Wednesday night, the president talked about travel bans and the resilience of the U.S. economy but made little specific mention of the public health crisis unfolding across America — exactly the kind of detail a dedicated NSC pandemics infrastructure would have pushed to address.”

    Recall that Admiral Ziemer resigned after the cards were reshuffled by Bolton.

    So in response, I would say that Mr. Morrison may have gilded the lily in an effort to explain why we were so slow in responding. It was only about a week ago or so when Trump was “on it” and this was no big deal. If that was based on the recommendation of the “new” reorganized response team, then this did not work very well.

    The opinion by Cameron was very specific in the handling of several outbreaks while it was in effect and she was in charge.

    In summation, I would put the pause button on claims on “untruth and false” on what has been said before about the weakening of the response team.

    That is my opinion of course.

    Liked by 3 people

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