‘I didn’t do it’: Trump claims no knowledge of White House pandemic unit’s disbanding
President Donald Trump said Friday that he did not know anything about the elimination of jobs addressing global pandemics at the White House National Security Council.
Veterans of past disease outbreaks have said the downsizing of staff at the NSC’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense — a unit sometimes referred to as the White House pandemic office — in 2018 was likely to hamper the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus.
“I didn’t do it,” Trump said when asked about the unit at a news conference to announce a national emergency declaration in response to the coronavirus outbreak. “We have group of people. I could ask perhaps — my administration — but I could perhaps ask Tony [Fauci] about that because I don’t know anything about it.” He added, “It’s the administration, perhaps they do that. You know, people let people go.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stood alongside Trump and other administration and business officials during the new conference. Fauci commented at a House hearing this week on the scrapping of the NSC unit, saying, “We worked very well with that office. It would be nice if the office was still there.”