President Trump listens to a question during a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on April 10. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump was informed in late January of a memo from White House economic adviser Peter Navarro that warned the novel coronavirus could kill up to half a million Americans and cost trillions of dollars, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Trump has repeatedly denied seeing January and February memos that Navarro sent, while insisting he did "more or less" what his adviser suggested by banning non-U.S. citizens from traveling from China effective Feb. 2.

  • Early missteps allowed COVID-19 to spread throughout the U.S. for weeks before state and local officials took action with strict lockdowns designed to keep the pandemic from spinning further out of control.

What they found: After Trump was presented with a mitigation plan on Feb. 24, "focus would shift to messaging and confident predictions of success rather than publicly calling for a shift to mitigation," NYT reports.

  • Trump's scheduled meeting with health officials advocating for widespread stay-at-home directives was replaced with the Feb. 26 White House briefing that put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of leading the administration's response to COVID-19, per the Times.
  • The axed meeting came after Trump "fumed" over a CDC official's public warning that mitigation efforts like social distancing would be necessary, the Times reports.

What they're saying: “While the media and Democrats refused to seriously acknowledge this virus in January and February, President Trump took bold action to protect Americans and unleash the full power of the federal government to curb the spread of the virus, expand testing capacities and expedite vaccine development even when we had no true idea the level of transmission or asymptomatic spread,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, told Axios in a statement.

Go deeper: Read the Navarro memos, first published by Axios

Go deeper

Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Americans feel Trump's sickness makes him harder to trustFlorida breaks record for in-person early voting.
  2. Health: The next wave is gaining steam.
  3. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots.
  4. World: Ireland moving back into lockdown — Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million infections.

Meadows confirms Trump's tweets "declassifying" Russia documents were false

Photo: Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed in court on Tuesday that President Trump's tweets authorizing the disclosure of documents related to the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton's emails "were not self-executing declassification orders," after a federal judge demanded that Trump be asked about his intentions.

Why it matters: BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold cited the tweets in an emergency motion seeking to gain access to special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted report as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. This is the first time Trump himself has indicated, according to Meadows, that his tweets are not official directives.

2 hours ago - World

China embraces hostage diplomacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government is threatening to detain foreign citizens unless their home governments do what Beijing demands. In some cases, China has already made good on those threats.

The big picture: This marks a potential evolution of China's "wolf warrior diplomacy" to outright rogue state behavior, putting it in the company of countries like North Korea and Iran, which have also engaged in hostage diplomacy.