White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner reportedly told President Donald Trump that the media had exaggerated the threat posed by the coronavirus in the early days of the outbreak, The New York Times reported.
Trump had repeatedly tried to downplay the seriousness of the disease early on, and had been concerned of the effect that negative warnings were having on stock markets.
Kushner has recently played a more important role in the Trump administration's response to the crisis, and influenced Trump's decision to impose a travel ban on European countries.
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Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, repeatedly told the president that the media was exaggerating the threat posed by the coronavirus, The New York Times reported Monday.
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In the early weeks of the outbreak Trump attempted to downplay the severity of the illness, comparing it to the common flu, describing it as a "hoax" concocted by Democrats at a campaign rally in February, and assuring Americans that the outbreak would "disappear."
He was reportedly furious about stark warnings made by health officials about the likely negative impact of the disease, and blamed them for spooking financial markets as he geared up his reelection campaign.
According to The Times, Kushner - who has reportedly been playing a key role in the US response to the outbreak - had been telling the president around this time that the media was exaggerating the threat posed by the virus.
Trump has repeatedly sought to blame the media for exaggerating the crisis, echoing what Kushner was reportedly telling him, and as recently as last week blamed the "fake news media" for seeking to "inflame the CoronaVirus [sic] situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Times report.
-Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020
Kushner has reportedly sought a more expansive role in efforts to combat the outbreak, despite lacking any expertise in the field and not talking to the top public health officials assigned to the anti-coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence.
And as the scale of the crisis has mounted, Kushner has taken on a more central role in the Trump administration's response, Politico reported.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Kushner was reportedly influential in Trump's decision last week to ban travel from several European countries to halt the spread of the illness, efforts to mobilize hospitals to increase testing, and ensure hospitals were better supplied.
He and Stephen Miller - a senior policy adviser - reportedly took the lead in writing the president's coronavirus speech to the nation last Wednesday, which was riddled with errors.Both Kushner and Miller have no public-health or medical expertise.
According to The Times, Kushner also played in a role in a Rose Garden speech last Friday, in which Trump claimed Google had designed a website to coordinate national coronavirus testing, when no such website existed.
"Mr. Trump has refused repeated warnings to rely on experts, or to neutralize some of the power held by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in favor of a traditional staff structure," the newspaper reported.
The Times report follows the revelation last week that Kurt Kloss, a doctor whose daughter Karlie Kloss is married to Kushner's brother, had crowd sourced responses to the coronavirus crisis on Facebook at Kushner's request.
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