Trump called the White House Coronavirus Task Force 'that f---ing council that Mike has': book

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Trump called the White House Coronavirus Task Force 'that f---ing council that Mike has': book
US President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence answers questions during the daily briefing of the coronavirus task force in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • Trump blasted the White House COVID-19 task force as a "f---ing council," a new book says.
  • "Nightmare Scenario" describes Pence and Birx as having a good working relationship.
  • Trump, however, "didn't want anyone to exert leadership" on the task force, according to the book.

Former President Donald Trump was sharply dismissive of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, calling it a "f---ing council," according to a new book by two Washington Post reporters.

In a section of "Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration's Response to the Pandemic That Changed History," Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta described how Dr. Deborah Birx, who became the task force's response coordinator, sought to offer a steady hand when she first joined the group.

During Birx's first meeting with the task force, she articulated the need for stronger data, which offered "the kind of leadership and organization that the group had so far lacked," according to the book.

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The book noted that the task force's members, which included figures such as Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar, and Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson, lacked "a concrete understanding of the severity of the outbreak."

Birx's impact was immediately felt, with many of its members "desperate for someone besides Azar to take charge," according to the book.

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Birx's instinct that the task force had been waiting for an individual with her skills to take the reigns proved to be correct.

The book describes the task force as "a mess" when Birx first arrived, with no individual in charge "in part because that was the way Trump had wanted it."

"The president eventually began to refer to it internally as 'that f---ing' council that Mike has,' a signal that he wished it would go away," according to the book. "He didn't want anyone to exert leadership, and many on the task force didn't want the responsibility, either, fearful of the consequences."

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Pence outranked Birx on the council, and despite her desire to shake things up, they both had a productive working relationship.

In the book, Abutaleb and Paletta describe Birx as confident, as she was "unafraid to call out" high-ranking men that included Azar, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield, and senior advisor Jared Kushner.

The book also describes how Pence projected an upbeat demeanor when he made public appearances with Trump during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in private, he was much more worried about the scope of the virus.

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