The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John Bolton:
With 2020 being a presidential election year, it was inevitable that Trump’s performance in this global health emergency would become a campaign issue, which it did almost immediately. And there was plenty to criticize, starting with the Administration’s early, relentless assertion that the disease was “contained” and would have little or no economic effect. Larry Kudlow, Chairman of the National Economic Council, said, on February 25, “We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight.” Market reactions to these kinds of assertions were decidedly negative, which may finally have woken the White House up to the seriousness of the problem. And obviously, in addition to the humanitarian implications, the economic and business consequences would certainly continue to reverberate through the November elections and beyond. Trump’s reflex effort to talk his way out of anything, however, even a public-health crisis, only undercut his and the nation’s credibility, with his statements looking more like political damage control than responsible public-health advice. One particularly egregious example was a news report that the Administration tried to classify certain public-health information regarding the United States on the spurious excuse that China was involved. Of course China was involved, which is a reason to disseminate the information broadly, not restrict it. This, Trump was reluctant to do throughout the crisis, for fear of adversely affecting the elusive definitive trade deal with China, or offending the ever-so-sensitive Xi Jinping.