Sec. Mnuchin battles Fox News' John Roberts on administration's virus failures: ‘Nobody expected this to take off at the rate it did’
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin insisted on Sunday that “nobody” predicted that the new coronavirus pandemic would quickly spread to the United States even though intelligence officials reportedly tried to get the Trump administration to pay attention to the crisis.
During an interview on Fox News Sunday, guest host John Roberts questioned Mnuchin about a recent Washington Post investigation which found that the administration ignored the intelligence officials on the spread of COVID-19.
“The intelligence community was giving the White House warnings back in January that the situation coming out of China was very, very serious and would likely end up in a pandemic,” Roberts explained. “Were you ever warned that something like this was coming down pipe because the initial White House reaction appeared to be, ‘Oh, don’t worry. It’s over there in China.’ I was told, why do we need to respond robustly because there’s only 16 cases here.”
“Were you ever warned early on by the intelligence community that this was coming?” the Fox News host asked.
“You know, I want to be careful talking about specific intelligence,” Mnuchin replied. “But let me be clear — and this is not just in the U.S., this is around the world. Nobody expected this to take off at the rate it did.”
“The situation has changed very quickly and the president has responded to that,” he added.
The Treasury secretary, however, declined to say if the Trump administration ignored intelligence officials on the COVID-19 outbreak.