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McConnell’s Claim That Obama Didn’t Leave Trump a Pandemic Game Plan “Clearly Untrue” [CNN Fact Check]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is being held accountable for falsely claiming yesterday that the Trump administration and Republicans in Washington were not left with “any kind of game plan for something like” coronavirus. This is the GOP’s latest attempt to try and shift blame to the previous administration for President Trump’s dangerously inadequate handling of the pandemic preparation and response effort, as Republicans grow nervous that “they could lose control of the Senate this fall.”

CNN reviewed McConnell’s claims and found them to be “clearly untrue” — the Obama administration left the Trump administration a detailed playbook and also led an additional in-person pandemic response exercise. 

CNN: Fact check: McConnell claims Obama didn’t leave Trump a pandemic ‘game plan.’ Obama left a 69-page playbook

By Daniel Dale

May 12, 2020

Key Points:

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell falsely accused the Obama administration of failing to leave the Trump administration “any kind of game plan” for something like the coronavirus pandemic.
  • As Donald Trump has done repeatedly during the pandemic, McConnell also laid undeserved blame at Obama’s feet.
  • Facts First: Obama’s White House National Security Council left the Trump administration a detailed document on how to respond to a pandemic. The document, whose existence was publicly revealed by Politico in March, is called the Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents.
  • The playbook — 40 pages plus appendices — contains step-by-step advice on questions to ask, decisions to make, and which federal agencies are responsible for what. It includes sample documents that officials could use for inter-agency meetings. And it explicitly lists novel coronaviruses as one of the kinds of pathogens that could require a major response.
  • The color-coded, checklist-style document addresses issues like testing, funding, personal protective equipment, emergency declarations, border control measures, diplomacy, the use of the military, public communication, even mortuary services.
  • Still, it’s clearly untrue that Obama left no “game plan” at all.
  • In addition to the playbook, outgoing senior Obama officials also led an in-person pandemic response exercise for senior incoming Trump officials in January 2017 — as required by a new law on improving presidential transitions that Obama signed in 2016. Politico reported this March that the meeting, attended by current Trump Cabinet officials including Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, addressed how to deal with a hypothetical flu crisis, among other scenarios.

Read the full fact check here.

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