Trump cuts to national security staff may hurt coronavirus response

In 2018, Trump fired Tom Bossert, whose job as homeland security adviser on the NSC included coordinating the response to global pandemics. Bossert was not replaced. Last year, Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer, the NSC’s senior director for global health security and biodefense, left the council and was not replaced. Dr. Luciana Borio, the NSC’s director for medical and biodefense preparedness, left in May 2018 and was also not replaced.

In an October op-ed in The Washington Post, national security adviser Robert O’Brien described the Obama National Security Council as having “ballooned to well over 200 staffers,” and he said he intended “to reduce the NSC staff.”

Said a former senior U.S. official, “For the first time since 9/11, you don’t have someone directly and immediately reporting to the president responsible 24/7 for the major transnational threats we face — terror, cyber, pandemics.”

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