Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell was forced to publicly rebuke the Washington Post on Monday after the newspaper reported as fact something that his office definitely said was not true.
According to the Post, President Donald Trump was given more than a dozen warnings about the coronavirus in the President's Daily Brief, a daily intelligence briefing informing the president of the most important and sensitive issues around the world, between January and February.
The Post reported:
For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus's spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion's transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.
But the alarms appear to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience for even the oral summary he takes two or three times per week, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.
The premise of the Post's story is that Trump ignored advanced warnings about the seriousness of COVID-19, which led to a delayed response to the virus and a death-toll that recently surpassed 50,000 Americans.
The Post claimed health experts view Trump's alleged inaction as "a squandered opportunity to contain the outbreak."
But Grenell, whose office is responsible for the PDB, said the Post is not telling the truth — and that the newspaper published its story despite on-the-record denials from his office.
"This isn't true. And we told you this before you wrote. And you put the DNI denial of your premise in paragraph 9," Grenell wrote on Twitter.
This isn’t true. And we told you this before you wrote. And you put the DNI denial of your premise in paragraph 9. https://t.co/kVYJvGxL0r— Richard Grenell (@Richard Grenell) 1588034959.0
Indeed, the Post included the on-the-record denial from Grenell's office in its story, which undercuts the very premise of the story.
The Post repoted:
In response to questions about the repeated mentions of coronavirus, a DNI official said, "The detail of this is not true." The official declined to explain or elaborate.
The mainstream media has been working overtime to pin blame for the COVID-19 outbreak on Trump, but it has been unsuccessful.
Earlier in April, ABC News claimed military intelligence — via the National Center for Medical Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency — had warned about the potential pandemic as far back as November.
The report prompted an immediate and very rare response from the NCMI DIA.
"As a matter of practice the National Center for Medical Intelligence does not comment publicly on specific intelligence matters. However, in the interest of transparency during the current public health crisis, we can confirm that media reporting about the existence/release of a National Center for Medical Intelligence Coronavirus-related product/assessment in November of 2019 is not correct. No such NCMI product exists," Col. (Dr.) R. Shane Day, director of the NCMI DIA, said.