Donald Trump considered quarantining Americans infected with COVID on Guantanamo Bay when the pandemic first started to take hold, a new book claims. Trump is pictured in February, 2020
‘Don’t we have an island that we own? What about Guantánamo?’ the president asked in the Situation Room in February 2020, according to Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta in Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History.
Trump then brought up the idea a second time, forcing aides to quash the plan fearing a backlash over putting members of the public on the same island as terrorism suspects, according to an excerpt published in the
The book details the workings inside the
It also details how Trump allegedly fumed at US infections doubling from 14 to 28 when infected Americans were let off the Diamond Princess cruise ship onto U.S. soil and his anger over the CDC taking over testing.
Abutaleb and Paletta write that Trump also raged about testing, slammed letting the CDC take over and dealt with aides worried about undermining public health.
‘Testing is killing me!’ Trump reportedly shouted in a phone call to then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on March 18.
‘I’m going to lose the election because of testing! What idiot had the federal government do testing?’ the president added.
‘Don’t we have an island that we own? What about Guantánamo?’ the president asked in the Situation Room in February 2020, according to Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta in Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History. Guantanamo Bay detainees are pictured in a yard in August 2009
Trump frequently stated during the pandemic that the number of infections in the US were so high because the rate of testing was higher than anywhere else in the world.
‘Uh, do you mean Jared?, Azar responded according to Abutaleb and Paletta.
The phone call came five days after Trump’s son-in-law Kushner vowed to take over national testing with the help of the private sector.
‘This was gross incompetence to let CDC develop a test,’ Trump told Azar in the heated phone call.
Kushner, according to the book, also called Robert Kadlec, the HHS emergency preparedness chief, a ‘f***ing moron’ when he found out an order of 600 million masks would not arrive in the US until June.
‘We’ll all be dead by June,’ Kushner said.
Mark Meadows also attacked Kadlec when the government was slow in handing out the antiviral treatment remdesivir after it was approved by the FDA.
‘I’m going to fire your a** if you can’t fix this!’ Meadows said in a phone call to Kadlec.
The book details the workings inside the White House before infections spread across the country and is based off interviews with 180 people
According to the book, Trump’s comments on the call were so loud that Azar’s aides could hear him.
Trump also reportedly told his aides to fire a senior State Department official who allowed 14 Americans infected with COVID to get off the Diamond Princess on US soil.
The Americans were among the hundreds of people evacuated from the quarantined cruise ship in Yokohama on February 17, 2020.
They were taken off the vessel and repatriated back to the US on two chartered flights that landed at Travis Air Force Base, California, and Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
The State Department deemed that all the infected passengers were asymptomatic and cleared to fly.
Trump complained to Azar that it ‘doubled his infections overnight’, with the total number of cases in the US rising to 28.
Abutaleb and Paletta write that the aides balked at the idea and instead said that bringing back the sick Americans meant it saved their lives.
Trump also called for firing Kadlec after he signed off on the Diamond Princess evacuation.
Later on in the response he pushed to oust Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn because he refused to speed up vaccine approvals before the election.
The officials Trump wanted to fire managed to survive the administration.
Dr Anthony Fauci, who had a contested relationship with Trump, also stayed in his position even though staff looked to Kushner and other economic advisors when deciding on the response, the book claims.
‘That was what the response had turned into: a toxic environment in which no matter where you turned, someone was ready to rip your head off or threatening to fire you,’ Abutaleb and Paletta write.
Their book also lays out the tensions in the White House when Mike Pence was chosen to head up the COVID response, essentially replacing Azar.
Pence’s chief of staff Marc Schort criticized Trump for extending a a ‘pause’ on the economy through Easter 2020 and said it was a ‘gift’ to Democratic governors.
Short also slammed the plan to send free masks to every American household, with some officials comparing them to ‘underwear on your face’ and a ‘training bra’.
Trump also reportedly told his aides to fire a senior State Department official who allowed 14 Americans infected with COVID on the Diamond Princess. He complained to Azar that it ‘doubled his infections overnight’, with the total number of cases in the US rising to 28. The Diamond Princess is pictured in Japan in February 2020
Jared Kushner (left), according to the book, also called Robert Kadlec (right with Trump in 2020), the HHS emergency preparedness chief, a ‘f***ing moron’ when he found out an order of 600 million masks would not arrive in the US until June