Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET on March 19, 2020.
Beth Cameron, a former senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council, complained in The Washington Post on Friday that the Trump administration dissolved her office in 2018, “leaving the country less prepared for pandemics like COVID-19.”
The same day, a PBS reporter asked President Trump about the change he presided over.
“You did disband the White House pandemic office, and the officials that were working in that office left this administration abruptly,” Yamiche Alcindor said. “So what responsibility do you take?”
Trump called it a nasty question. He denied the facts. And he said, “I don’t know anything about it.” He went on to say, “It’s the—it’s the administration. Perhaps they do that. You know, people let people go. You used to be with a different newspaper than you are now. You know, things like that happen.”
But video footage resurfaced Tuesday by the British newspaper The Independent makes clear Trump’s thinking on public-health agencies.* “You have consistently called for enormous cuts to the CDC, the NIH, and the WHO,” a White House reporter tells Trump. “You’ve talked a lot today about how these professionals are excellent, are critical, are necessary. Does this experience give you pause about those cuts?”