- 11 May 2020 19:53
Nice Try. Snopes says:
The claim came from a series of tweets posted by Judd Legum, who runs Popular Information, a newsletter he describes as being about “politics and power.” Legum’s commentary was representative of sharp criticism from Democratic legislators (and some Republicans) that the Trump administration had ill-prepared the country for a pandemic even as one was looming on the horizon.
Legum outlined a series of cost-cutting decisions made by the Trump administration in preceding years that had gutted the nation’s infectious disease defense infrastructure. The “pandemic response team” firing claim referred to news accounts from Spring 2018 reporting that White House officials tasked with directing a national response to a pandemic had been ousted.
Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer abruptly departed from his post leading the global health security team on the National Security Council in May 2018 amid a reorganization of the council by then-National Security Advisor John Bolton, and Ziemer’s team was disbanded. Tom Bossert, whom the Washington Post reported “had called for a comprehensive biodefense strategy against pandemics and biological attacks,” had been fired one month prior.
It’s thus true that the Trump administration axed the executive branch team responsible for coordinating a response to a pandemic and did not replace it, eliminating Ziemer’s position and reassigning others, although Bolton was the executive at the top of the National Security Council chain of command at the time.
Legum stated in a follow-up tweet that “Trump also cut funding for the CDC, forcing the CDC to cancel its efforts to help countries prevent infectious-disease threats from becoming epidemics in 39 of 49 countries in 2018. Among the countries abandoned? China.” That was partly true, according to 2018 news reports stating that funding for the CDC’s global disease outbreak prevention efforts had been reduced by 80%, including funding for the agency’s efforts in China.
But that was the result of the anticipated depletion of previously allotted funding, not a direct cut by the Trump administration. And as the CDC told FactCheck.org, the cuts were ultimately avoided because Congress provided other funding.
On Feb. 24, 2020, the Trump administration requested $2.5 billion to address the coronavirus outbreak, an outlay critics asserted might not have been necessary if the previous program cuts had not taken place. Fortune reported of the issue that:
Time to set the political nonsense aside for awhile on this.
CORONA VIRUS IS NOT A POLITICAL FOOTBALL.
IT IS A KILLER.