Former US president Donald Trump crippled the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic for his own political purposes in “one of the worst failures of leadership in American history,” a newly released congressional report says.
The 46-page report prepared by a Democratic-led House subcommittee investigating the pandemic response said Trump and his acolytes regularly overruled or silenced public health experts to suit his own whims or perceived political advantage.
“Trump Administration officials engaged in a staggering pattern of political interference in the pandemic response and failed to heed early warnings about the looming crisis,” the report said on Friday.
The panel members said the Trump White House failed to implement necessary preventive public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 and bungled the national effort to medical equipment.
The former president also embraced quack misinformation campaigns, including one that suggested allowing the virus to spread freely in hopes of achieving so-called “herd immunity.”
“These decisions placed countless American lives at risk, undermined the nation’s public health institutions, and contributed to one of the worst failures of leadership in American history,” the report said.
The committee report amounts to a summary of its findings about Trump’s erratic and inconsistent approach to the pandemic.
Some of the findings were broadly known, like Trump’s effort to stifle public health experts from giving science based guidance in favour of his own preferred political views.
Trump political appointees also sought to get officials to give favourable treatment to whatever COVID-19 strategies the president was pushing, especially the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine.
The panel also documented disturbing failures in spending billions in taxpayer cash in pandemic assistance, including windfall profits for “unqualified food distributors” and a $US700 million load to a troubled trucking company.
“The Trump Administration left those programs vulnerable to fraud and abuse while failing to deliver relief to millions of Americans effectively, efficiently, and equitably,” the panel said.