Ex-Trump official says White House staff believe COVID-19 lies because they have Stockholm Syndrome
US President Donald Trump's former communications director Hope Hicks (r) has been ordered not to hand over documents to a House committee investigating the president (AFP Photo/Mandel NGAN)

Former Department of Homeland Security official Elizabeth Neumann doesn't think that the White House is nefariously plotting to kill Americans by downplaying the coronavirus and how it impacts children. She thinks it's Stockholm Syndrome.

Speaking with her panel Tuesday, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace said that she assumed that things like the threat of American children was important enough to the White House. "Shame on me," she confessed, for thinking it would be that way.

"I feel like I already know what you will say, that everything is in service of his political goals, but it is still shocking to hear," said Wallace, citing an earlier interview with former Coronavirus Task Force member Olivia Troye. She also recently came out against the Trump administration, saying that they put politics first when deciding what to tell people about the dangers of the virus.

"You're right, this is just more of the same," said Neumann. "But if you go back and you remember that when he was sworn into office, it is abundantly clear that he came in with the purpose of pretending or playing the role of president. And anytime he has to make tough decisions that are not things that he actually wants to work on or he doesn't want to do, he either -- in a good scenario -- might pass it off to a competent cabinet member or deputy and let them run with it. And there are some places in his administration where he has had successes largely because he and his inner sanctum don't touch it, where for optics he had to appear like he was in charge."

She noted that when the task force was set up public affairs went through them, which is not what the disaster response plans outlined.

"There is an emergency support function that is supposed to handle public affairs," she explained. "And that was kind of set aside and ran out of the White house. And the moment you put the White House in charge of this task force, because their goal is to play the role of the president, not to actually do any of the work of the presidency, the way they evaluate problems is entirely through the lens of public affairs, not through the lens of the oath that he swore to protect and defend this country."

Wallace cited the recent reports from the New York Times and the new book out by Bob Woodward talking about the lies surrounding Trump and his people. It became clear that higher-level staffers knew the truth and Trump confessed to Woodward that he knew young people could get the virus and die from it. Still, the White House pushed out information to the contrary, pretending that reopening schools was safe.

"I can't speak specifically to [Marc] Short,"Neumann confessed. "But from working with people in that environment, you might start off strong with either a set of morals and know what your red line is and through a combination of getting beat down -- because maybe you spoke up in the past and you were beat into submission or threatened with either, you know, you will lose your job maybe on the best-case scenario or are maybe they have blackmail on somebody. They are a very intimidating crew in the way that they demand loyalty. So, you have that factor going on. And then you just have the factor that groupthink sets in especially in year four of his administration. They start to actually believe the lies. So, I don't know that anybody woke up that day and said, 'I'm going to decide not to protect children so that I can get Donald Trump reelected.' But they kind of lost site of what truth is. And so I think it is a combination of factors. I'm sure psychologists will have a heyday trying to figure out the Stockholm Syndrome that set in that compromised values in the process."

See the full conversation below: