09/18/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/18/2020 12:33
WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (CA-35) today responded to news reports that President Donald J. Trump ignored a top-secret warning in the Oval Office from National Security Adviser Robert C. O'Brien that novel coronavirus 'will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency.'
As the Washington Post lays out, Trump spent the ten days following that briefing holding political rallies, golfing, throwing a Super Bowl party at his private club in Palm Beach, and attacking his perceived political enemies.
Over that same time period, Trump's allies spread misinformation about the virus. National Security Advisor O'Brien contradicted the very warning he gave Trump in the Oval Office the following Sunday on Face the Nation, stating: 'Right now, there's no reason for Americans to panic. This is something that is a low risk, we think, in the U.S.'
Ten days after the initial warning, Trump admitted in a taped conversation with investigative journalist Bob Woodward that the virus was a threat, that it was airborne and that it was highly contagious. 'This is deadly stuff,' the president acknowledged.
Congresswoman Torres, whose Inland Empire district has 416 mourning families and counting who have lost loved ones to this virus, released the following statement:
'This president knew how deadly coronavirus was as he played golf and threw parties instead of warning the public,' Rep. Torres said. 'He knew it was airborne as he held political rallies - and continues to hold political rallies, and discourages the use of masks. He knew Americans would die in massive numbers if their government didn't mobilize to save them, and he knew it as he did absolutely nothing about it.
'Trump's claim that he didn't want to panic the American people would not have stopped him from stockpiling Personal Protective Equipment, or invoking the Defense Production Act,' Torres continued. 'It would not have prevented him from leveraging the federal government to develop an accurate test, or from laying out a national plan. But he did not do those things. Instead, his Export-Import bank shipped PPE to China when this president and his aides knew we needed it here.
'I shudder to think how many meetings this president has probably held on covering up the truth, compared to how few he held on saving lives,' Torres added. 'As we near 200,000 fatalities across the country, and 416 of our friends, family members and neighbors in the Inland Empire, we must view this as the moment of reckoning that it is. Not for Trump, but for our own lives and our future. This president shows no compassion and no remorse, and gives no signs that he will ever change. If we want leadership that views the American people as anything more than exploitable resources with expendable lives, we must make our voices heard this November.'
News of Trump's actions in the days immediately following this briefing with national security adviser Robert C. O'Brien broke on the same day the American people learned the Trump Administration had stockpiled munitions and sought a heat ray from the military to use on its own people. Additionally, the public learned the Trump family bilked taxpayers for more than $1.1 million since the beginning of the Administration by forcing secret service agents to pay for rooms in Trump's extravagant hotels.