The New York Times reported Wednesday that at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House briefed a conservative group about the impending threat and it resulted in a mass stock sell-off. To the public, Trump declared that the coronavirus was "very much under control" and that the "Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"
The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries.… https://t.co/OwF1dR3caM— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1582580522.0
Hours earlier, senior members of Trump's economic team were privately communicating with the Hoover Institution, a right-wing organization whose mission is to "secure and safeguard peace, improve the human condition, and limit government intrusion into the lives of individuals."
The next day, board members — many of them Republican donors — received another private message, this time from Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council. After boasting on CNBC that the virus was contained in the U.S. and “it’s pretty close to airtight,” Kudlow told the donors privately that although it was “contained in the U.S.," to date, "...we just don’t know,” The New York Times reported.
U.S. stocks were already spiraling after the warning from a federal public health official that the virus was likely to spread, and traders perked up when they noticed that Trump’s aides were giving wealthy party donors an early warning of a pathogen Trump claimed was "very much under control." It just didn't seem to add up.
Two days after Trump's tweet claiming the stock market was looking "very good," an email was sent to trading firms and the U.S. stock markets fell close to 300 points from their high the previous week.
Currently, the government is investigating financial transactions made in early February — before the market spiraled — by Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, who was forced to step aside as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in May over the inquiry. The New York Times reported that "Burr sold stock after he received government briefings about the looming health and economic crisis from the pandemic."