• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jared Kushner convened 'China Virus Huddles' 3 times a week during the Trump administration to discuss pandemic messaging, documents show

·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Jared Kushner at a press briefing about the coronavirus at the White House on May 11, 2020.
Jared Kushner at a press briefing about the coronavirus at the White House on May 11, 2020.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • A House committee investigating the US's pandemic response released a new report on Tuesday.

  • Jared Kushner led thrice-weekly meetings on the pandemic dubbed "China Virus Huddles," the report revealed.

  • That group, which included "herd immunity" proponent Dr. Scott Atlas, was separate from the official task force.

As the Trump administration worked to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, White House advisor Jared Kushner began to convene thrice-weekly "China Virus Huddles" to strategize on pandemic messaging, according to newly-released documents.

Those "huddles, according to a House committee probing the US's COVID-19 response, would typically include Kellyanne Conway, a senior counselor to the president; Hope Hicks, an assistant to the president; Paul Mango, the deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services; and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator.

They also included Dr. Scott Atlas, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution who was later brought into the administration as a special advisor to President Donald Trump on issues concerning COVID-19.

The meetings, according to the report, were "used to hone the White House's coronavirus messaging and address key 'operational aspects' of the response outside of the White House Coronavirus Task Force structure."

The subcommittee's report also shows how Atlas, a proponent of "herd immunity," convinced the Trump White House to embrace a strategy of mass infection in the early months of the pandemic.

"As today's report makes clear, senior officials in the previous Administration embraced a dangerous and discredited herd immunity via mass infection strategy promoted by non-expert advisers like Dr. Scott Atlas and recklessly allowed the coronavirus to infect Americans before vaccines were widely available," said subcommittee chair Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina in a statement. "This dereliction of duty resulted in significant loss of life that could have been prevented."

Document containing the program for a "China Virus Huddle" on August 12, 2020.
Document containing the program for a "China Virus Huddle" on August 12, 2020.House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis

The report and accompanying documents also show the widespread use of the term "China Virus" — a xenophobic term embraced early in the pandemic by Trump himself — within the White House.

"Viruses know no borders and they don't care about your ethnicity or the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank," Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's health emergencies program, told CNN in March 2020. "It's really important that we be careful in the language we use."

The committee also revealed that Scott's engagement with the White House began far earlier than previously thought. While Atlas officially joined the administration in August 2020, he sent an email to Seema Verma, then the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in March 2020.

"The total lockdown is a massive overreaction and super harmful to our entire society," Atlas wrote in the March 21, 2020 email. He went on to predict that the virus "would cause about 10,000 deaths" which "would be unnoticed in the total of flu-like deaths every season."

As of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 1,008,000 people have died in the US from COVID-19.

Kushner did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider