Trump administration privately warned wealthy donors while publicly downplaying the coronavirus
Category: News & PoliticsVia: tessylo • 2 weeks ago • 5 comments
By: Igor Derysh, Salon
The information reportedly helped elite traders "gain financial advantage" when "global markets were teetering"
OCTOBER 15, 2020 4:43PM (UTC)
The Trump administration publicly downplayed the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic while giving major Republican donors private warnings. The information helped elite traders "gain financial advantage during a chaotic three days when global markets were teetering," according to The New York Times . President Donald Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat posed by the virus in February. He claimed on Feb. 24 that it was "very much under control" in the U.S., and the stock market was "starting to look very good to me."
There has also been a revolving door between the think tank and the Trump administration. Joshua Rauh, one of the economists who spoke at the meeting, has since rejoined the institution. Kevin Hassett , who moderated the panel and served as the top White House economist, is now a Hoover Institution fellow. Dr. Scott Atlas, a Hoover fellow who has pushed the discredited "herd immunity" strategy , joined Trump's coronavirus task force in August. The stock market was already struggling as public health officials publicly contradicted the administration's rosy outlook, but investors "spotted the immediate significance" of the private messaging, according to The Times. The president's aides appeared to be giving wealthy party donors an early warning of a potentially impactful contagion at a time when Mr. Trump was publicly insisting that the threat was nonexistent.
Some investors stocked up on toilet paper and other essential items before a mad rush caused nationwide shortages, according to The Times. Others decided to "short everything," or bet that certain stocks would fail, to profit from the collapse. Callanan reportedly sent the email to Tepper, the owner of the Carolina Panthers and the prominent hedge fund Appaloosa Management, detailing the "level of concern" among officials and how "ill-prepared health agencies appeared to combat a pandemic." The email was circulated throughout the company, and its warnings were shared with other investors, according to the report. Those investors shared it with their own associates. The email was shared between at least four financial firms over 24 hours, on the same day the Dow Jones fell 300 points.
Trump told Bob Woodward even earlier on Feb. 7 that the virus was airborne and "more deadly than even your strenuous flus," according to the journalist's new book .
Democrats said The Times report showed where the administration's priorities were before the pandemic killed more than 217,000 Americans.
"If this doesn't tell you who they prioritize then I don't know what will," Michigan Democratic Senate leader Jim Ananich said . "People died and he lied."