President Donald Trump's chaotic White House resulted in "a lost summer" in the battle against coronavirus, according to a new in-depth report by The Washington Post.
The newspaper interviewed "41 senior administration officials and other people directly involved in or briefed on the response efforts" for the story, with multiple former officials offering anonymous quotes.
The report explains the skepticism of science and experts by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
"Meadows is not alone in being skeptical of medical expertise, part of the politics-first, science-second attitude that has become pervasive inside the White House this summer — and which has been championed foremost by Trump," The Post noted.
"If the administration's initial response to the coronavirus was denial, its failure to control the pandemic since then was driven by dysfunction and resulted in a lost summer," the newspaper explained.
"Under mounting pressure to improve the president's reelection chances as his poll numbers declined, the White House had what was described as a stand-down order on engaging publicly on the virus through the month of June, part of a deliberate strategy to spotlight other issues even as the contagion spread wildly across the country," The Post reported. "It was only in July, when case counts began soaring in a trio of populous, Republican-leaning states — Arizona, Florida and Texas — and polls showed a majority of Americans disapproving of Trump's handling of the pandemic, that the president and his top aides renewed their public activity related to the virus."
The controversial White House coronavirus model has awful news for Trump as the election approaches.
"Yet the virus rages coast to coast, making the United States the world leader, by far, in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths. An internal model by Trump's Council on Economic Advisers predicts a looming disaster, with the number of infections projected to rise later in August and into September and October in the Midwest and elsewhere, according to people briefed on the data," the newspaper reported. "The forecast has alarmed the president and his top aides, even as some have chosen not to believe it, arguing that some previous projections did not materialize."
According to a former administration official, White House chaos is "an unmitigated disaster."
Amid the dysfunction, aides have found a way to trick Trump into thinking he's an effective leader.
"What's more, with polls showing Trump's popularity on the decline and widespread disapproval of his management of the viral outbreak, staffers have concocted a positive feedback loop for the boss. They present him with fawning media commentary and craft charts with statistics that back up the president's claim that the administration has done a great — even historically excellent — job fighting the virus," the newspaper explained.
The newspaper quoted a "senior administration official involved in the pandemic response."
"Everyone is busy trying to create a Potemkin village for him every day. You're not supposed to see this behavior in liberal democracies that are founded on principles of rule of law. Everyone bends over backwards to create this Potemkin village for him and for his inner circle," the official explained.
The newspaper flushed out who makes up that inner circle.
"Although Fauci, Birx and other medical professionals sit on the coronavirus task force, many of the more pressing decisions lately have been made by the smaller group that huddles in the morning and mostly prioritizes politics. The cadre includes Meadows, senior adviser Jared Kushner and strategic communications director Alyssa Farah," the newspaper reported.