Mar 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he doesn't know anything about pandemic office his admin disbanded

President Trump said Friday he doesn't "know anything about" the White House pandemic office his administration disbanded in 2018.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President. Yamiche Alcindor from PBS NewsHour. My first question is you said that you don't take responsibility, but you did disband the White House pandemic office, and the officials that were working in that office left this administration abruptly. So what responsibility do you take to that? And the officials that worked in that office said that the White House lost valuable time because that office was disbanded. What do you make of that?"
President Trump: "Well, I just think it's a nasty question, because what we've done is, and Tony [Fauci] has said numerous times, that we've saved thousands of lives because of the quick closing. And when you say me, I didn't do it. We have a group of people. I could perhaps ask Tony about that, because I don't know anything about it. I mean, you say we did that. I don't know anything about it."
Reporter: "You don't know about the reorganization that happened at the National Security Council?"
Trump: "It's the administration, perhaps they do that, let people do, you used to be with a different newspaper than you are now, you know things like that happen." 
Reporter: "But this is a reorganization at the National Security Council."
Trump: "Please go ahead. We're doing a great job. Let me tell you, these professionals behind me, these great, incredible doctors and businesses people, the best in the world, and I can say that, whether it's retailers or labs or anything you want to say, these are the best in the world. We're doing a great job. And we are 40 people right now, 40, compare that with other countries that have many, many times that amount, and one of the reasons we have 40 and others have, and again, that number is going up, just so you understand. And the number of cases, which are very small relatively speaking, it's going up. We've done a great job, because we acted quickly, we acted early, and there's nothing we could have done that was better than closing our borders to highly infected areas."

Context: The White House disbanded the global health security team in 2018 following a shake-up by then-national security adviser John Bolton.

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