Trump hung up on Alex Azar when he tried to warn of 'extremely dangerous' COVID-19 in January 2020: book
Donald Trump swears in Alex Azar as HHS secretary (White House/screen grab)

An explosive new book about former President Donald Trump's handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic claims that he hung up on his own Health and Human Services chief when he tried to warn him about COVID-19.

The Daily Mail reports that Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta claim in their new book that former HHS Secretary Alex Azar first tried to alert Trump to the potential dangers of the virus in January 2020, when it was alarming public health officials by ripping through the Chinese city of Wuhan.

"Mr. President, I've got to tell you something," Azar said, according to the book. "There's this new virus out of China that could be extremely dangerous. It could be the kind of thing we have been preparing for and worried about."

Trump, however, was more interested in berating Azar about new HHS regulations of flavored e-cigarettes, which Trump worried could cost him votes in the 2020 presidential election.

Azar again tried to warn Trump about the virus and the need to take safety precautions in screening international travelers.

"Yeah, okay," Trump reportedly replied -- then abruptly hung up on Azar.

Abutaleb and Paletta's book, titled "Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration's Response to the Pandemic That Changed History," went on sale this week.