Trump proposed sending Americans with Covid to Guantánamo, book claims
- Revelation contained in new book Nightmare Scenario
- Trump: ‘We import goods. We are not going to import a virus’
- US politics – live coverage
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump advocated shipping Americans who contracted Covid-19 abroad to Guantánamo Bay.
The stunning revelation is contained in a new book, Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta, two Washington Post reporters. The Post published excerpts on Monday.
According to the paper, at a meeting in the White House Situation Room in February last year, before the onset of the pandemic in which more than 600,000 have now died in the US, Trump asked aides: “Don’t we have an island that we own? What about Guantánamo?”
Trump also reportedly said: “We import goods. We are not going to import a virus.”
The reporters write that aides blocked the idea when Trump brought it up again.
The US holds Guantánamo Bay on a disputed long lease from Cuba. The prison there is used to house terrorism suspects without trial and in extremely harsh conditions and since the 9/11 attacks has been a magnet for condemnation from human rights groups.
In 2019, the book A Warning by Anonymous – later revealed to be Miles Taylor, a former homeland security official – reported that Trump suggested sending immigrants to the base in Cuba.
According to Taylor, Trump proposed designating all migrants entering the US without permission as “enemy combatants”, then shipping them to Guantánamo.
Books about Trump’s rise to power and four years in the White House have proved extremely lucrative. On Monday the news site Axios reported that Trump has spoken to numerous authors working on books about his time in the Oval Office.
According to the Post, among scenes reported by Abutaleb and Paletta, Trump is depicted in March 2020 shouting at his health secretary, Alex Azar: “Testing is killing me!”
Cases of Covid-19 were mounting at the time, with states entering lockdowns amid pubic confusion and fear.
“I’m going to lose the election because of testing!” Trump reportedly yelled. “What idiot had the federal government do testing?”
“Uh, do you mean Jared?” Azar is reported to have answered, referring to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser who was in charge of testing.
Trump also reportedly said it was “gross incompetence to let [federal health agency] CDC develop a test”.
Kushner is reported to have called a staffer who oversaw a March plan to purchase 600m masks a “fucking moron”, because the masks would not be delivered till June.
By then, Kushner reportedly said: “We’ll all be dead.”
Detailing such infighting and failures of leadership, the authors reportedly write: “That was what the response had turned into: a toxic environment in which no matter where you turned, someone was ready to rip your head off or threatening to fire you.”