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Trump WH Reportedly Ignored Obama-Era NSC ‘Playbook’ for Pandemic Response: ‘Was Thrown Onto a Shelf’

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Dr. Anthony Fauci

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images.

The Trump administration failed to follow a comprehensive National Security Council “playbook” on pandemic response developed by Obama White House officials in 2016 after the ebola outbreak.

According to Politico, the Trump White House repeatedly missed key moments in its early response to the global COVID-19 outbreak, leaving it as much as two months behind in testing for the virus as well as and dissemination of critical equipment necessary for treatment. The so-called playbook, a 69-page document, was created in the last year of the Obama administration to gather lessons learned from dealing with the ebola outbreak in 2014–15.

This latest report comes amid news on Wednesday that the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General’s office has undertaken five different investigations into whistleblower complaints that the Trump administration mishandled its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The NSC playbook, Politico reports, emphasizes the critical, proactive role that the federal-level response must play in any response to a nationwide pandemic.

“The U.S. government will use all powers at its disposal to prevent, slow or mitigate the spread of an emerging infectious disease threat,” the playbook offers as a central premise. “The American public will look to the U.S. government for action when multi-state or other significant events occur.”

But that strategic approach contrasts with the decentralized and at-times downright dismissive approach President Donald Trump and his administration took toward the threat of the virus in the early months of 2020. NSC officials in his White House reportedly showed little interest in the document and instead told Politico that newer plans superseded the Obama-era playbook.

“It just sat as a document that people worked on that was thrown onto a shelf,” one former Obama and Trump administration official told Politico. “It’s hard to tell how much senior leaders at agencies were even aware that this existed.”

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