Trump lied about facing opposition from his advisers on the Chinese travel ban — it was their idea, Woodward says in new book

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At least five of President Donald Trump’s top advisers urged him to limit travel from China in late January, despite the president’s repeated claims that he made the decision alone, journalist Bob Woodward reports in a new book.

Woodward writes in his White House exposé “Rage” that health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, advised Trump to institute the travel restriction in a January 31 meeting.

But Trump has said both in public interviews and in a conversation with Woodward that he was the only person in that meeting to support the travel restriction and that his aides actively opposed the move.  

“I had 21 people in my office, in the Oval Office, and of the 21 there was one person that said we have to close it down. That was me,” Trump told Woodward in a March 19 interview. “Nobody wanted it because it was too early.”

But Woodward reports that Trump’s advisers gathered in the White House and laid out a uniform recommendation. 

“I think this is the only way we’ve got to go right now,” Fauci told Trump, according to the book. 

The president’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, and the top National Security Council official overseeing Asia, Matthew Pottinger, both agreed with the health experts and urged the president to follow their suggestion. 

“It is one of those shocks for me, having written about nine presidents, that the president of the United States possessed the specific knowledge that could have saved lives,” Woodward said during an interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday morning. “Historians are going to be writing about the lost month of February for tens of years.”

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Trump has repeatedly touted his decision to partially restrict travel from China in early February as one of the boldest and most effective measures his administration has taken to contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

“Everybody was against it. Almost everybody, I would say, was just absolutely against it,” Trump said during a March Fox News town hall. “I made a decision to close off to China that was weeks early … And I must say, doctors — nobody wanted to make that decision at the time.” 

Trump then claimed in May that he was “criticized by everybody, including Dr. Fauci” for his decision.

The president has also exaggerated the scope of the travel restriction, describing it as an outright ban when it was only a partial restriction that still allowed thousands of Chinese nationals to travel to the US during the pandemic.

Trump was far from the first world leader to restrict travel from China where the coronavirus outbreak originated late last year. Almost 40 countries had already imposed restrictions by the time he made the call, and several major airlines had also suspended flights from the country. 

The travel restriction, which went into effect on February 2, made exceptions made for immediate family of American citizens and permanent residents and also …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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