Sunday on MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice said that President Donald Trump’s “extraordinary failings” caused an increase in deaths and economic suffering during the coronavirus pandemic.
When asked about Jared Kushner calling the federal government’s coronavirus response “a great success story,” Rice said, “Well, it’s really offensive when you digest the reality that now nearly 70,000 Americans have lost their lives. As you said, well over 1 million infected, 30 million Americans have lost their jobs. We know that number is an underestimate. How one could possibly declare that a success of any sort, mission accomplished is just bewildering, and it is offensive because so many Americans are suffering. We’re suffering loss of life, loss of loved ones and the degree of our suffering in human terms and economic terms is, frankly, far greater than it needed to be because of this administration’s incompetence, the president’s denials and dishonest statements and their refusal to act on the information they had a beginning in early and mid-January when we learned this was a major problem in China. Any person with knowledge and experience of pandemics knows this was going to come to us in a major way.”
Reacting the president saying the Obama administration left “bad, broken tests,” Rice said, “It’s, of course, preposterous. The notion that we left them faulty tests when we left office in January of 2017, and there wasn’t a novel coronavirus to test for at that time is false on its face. But the broader narrative that somehow the Obama administration left this new administration unprepared is ridiculous. First of all, this is 3 1/2 years into the Trump administration. They own whatever the situation is. Secondly, we understood very clearly the real likelihood of a pandemic. President Obama spoke to it publicly in December 2014 as we were wrestling with the Ebola epidemic. I set up an office at the White House, solely for the purpose of tracking global health events and possible pandemics and responding to them. We left them a 69-page playbook, which I called “pandemics for dummies,” which was designed to enable an administration to walk through a set of issues and questions and begin to prepare a response.”
“They dismantled the office, discarded the playbook,” she added. “They disregarded the exercise we prepared for them to enable them to work through these kinds of issues in the transition, and they never prioritized pandemics as the catastrophic threat we all knew it could be. And that, more importantly, Joy, they wasted the months of January and February in terms of gearing up our response. That’s the time when we should have been surging the acquisition and procurement of PPE and ventilators and tests, and all of the things that we now know that all Americans now know are so badly needed. We knew that to be the case. We left a whole and complete national strategic stockpile. For the Trump administration to blame the Obama administration or blame anybody else is purely an effort to cover up and distract from their own extraordinary failings.”
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