'Void of US international leadership': State Department assessment torches Trump and Pompeo on COVID leadership

'Void of US international leadership': State Department assessment torches Trump and Pompeo on COVID leadership
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, drops by a regional coordination meeting on the Middle East Strategic Alliance Tuesday, September 24, 2019, at the Lotte New York Palace in New York City. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
Ex-Trump administration official delivers blistering testimony about Pompeo and Trump's Ukraine scandal

The U.S. State Department's assessment of the Trump administration's COVID-19 pandemic response cites a "void of U.S. international leadership," according to Politico.

A draft of the assessment, obtained by Politico, highlighted the domino effect caused by former President Donald Trump's lack of international leadership on the COVID-19 crisis.

The findings were included as part of the COVID-19 Interim Review which details what the State Department learned a the onset of the pandemic. It also details the frustrations shared by many career officials at the State Department.

According to the report, many of them have expressed concern about the previous administration's flawed pandemic response.

"[T]he decision to reassure Americans of their safety and avoid damaging the economy delayed warnings to American citizens about travel during a pandemic until well after airlines were cutting flights and borders were closing around the world," the document reads.

For several months after the onset of the pandemic, Trump repeatedly downplayed the severity of the pandemic. Trump allies and other elected officials followed in the former president's footsteps.

"The United States' struggle to contain the virus, strident criticism of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other multilateral institutions, and the politicized internal debate on science and mitigation measures undermined international trust in U.S. leadership," it reads.

The assessment continues:

"Foreign policy considerations often struggle to be heard during domestic crises; this only underscores the Department's critical role in advocating for and building a global response to pandemics and other health crises, as a moral imperative and to ensure the health, security, and prosperity of the American people. The Department's response fell short in this regard during the early phase of crisis."
When asked about the COVID-19 interim review, State Department spokesperson Ned Price opted not to release a statement on the "purportedly leaked report covering the previous administration, especially one that remains in draft and awaits broader input."

"More broadly, however, Secretary [Antony] Blinken from his first day in office has prioritized the health and safety of our global workforce, and the State Department has been at the center of the administration's efforts to combat the virus around the world," Price said.

He added, "We have provided vaccines — nearly 200,000 doses in all — to our workforce, including to all of our overseas posts. We also have provided significant life-saving assistance — on a multilateral and bilateral basis — to countries around the world, recognizing that as long as the virus is spreading anywhere, it poses a threat to people everywhere, including Americans here at home. It's also true that, as a Department, we recognize the importance of identifying and accounting for lessons learned — and that includes from episodes that pre-date this administration."


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