The White House unveiled a video yesterday that, among other things, was intended as proof that Donald Trump acted quickly and responsibly to the coronavirus threat, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. There was, however, a noticeable problem.
The video included a timeline of events -- what the White House called a "timeline of action" -- which jumped from February 6 to March 2. The implication was that the president and his team squandered this critical period, the consequences of which are now being felt nationwide. When CBS News' Paula Reid noticed the gap and asked Trump to explain what he and his team did during this empty period, he replied, "A lot," without pointing to anything specific.
Since I took note of this earlier, it seems only fair to note that the president's re-election campaign produced a list of things Team Trump did in February to combat the crisis. After having read the list, I think it may not be nearly as helpful as the Republican operation thinks. Consider a sampling from the larger document:
- February 4: President Trump vowed in his State of the Union Address to "take all necessary steps" to protect Americans from the coronavirus.
- February 7: President Trump told reporters that the CDC is working with China on the coronavirus.
- February 9: The White House Coronavirus Task Force briefed governors from across the nation at the National Governors' Association Meeting in Washington.
- February 22: A WHO team of international experts arrives in Wuhan, China.
- February 26: President Trump discussed coronavirus containment efforts with Indian PM Modi and updated the press on his Administration's containment efforts in the U.S. during his state visit to India.
The full list included some more substantive elements, but the Trump campaign nevertheless pointed to data points like these as if they represented meaningful administration achievements worthy of praise.
TPM's Josh Marshall highlighted a related list distributed to the media last night, featuring related developments such as HHS Secretary Alex Azar testifying to a congressional committee in February.
Doesn't this prove largely the opposite of the point the president was trying to make yesterday?
After Trump said he and his team were doing "a lot" in February to address the crisis, I can imagine aides scrambling to come up with something to bolster his point. It appears they struggled with the task.