The Memo: DeSantis-Biden sniping underscores COVID-19 frustration
Former Biden adviser lays out 3 'deadly sins' of Trump administration and COVID-19
Andy Slavitt, a former senior adviser for the White House coronavirus response team, said on Sunday that the Trump administration committed three "deadly sins" in its handling of the pandemic.
Slavitt, during an interview with host John Dickerson on CBS's "Face the Nation," criticized former President Trump for denying the existence of the virus and playing into the country's divisions while his aides quashed dissent.
Slavitt, who stepped down from his position in the Biden administration last week, said Trump's power to convince his followers that the virus did not exist or was not as potent as it was made the pandemic "a very different situation."
"The first was his power that he believed to deny the very existence of the virus or the potency of it and to get his followers to go along with it," Slavitt said.
"If he simply hadn't done that and simply said, hey, we've got a problem, we would have been in a very different situation," he added.
Another sin Slavitt said Trump committed was "taking the divisions in the country and playing into them," which he said was "really almost extra credit."
Slavitt said "being a populist during a pandemic is really not a great combination."
"You're gonna have to make some tough decisions. You're gonna have to make people unhappy, and I think Trump saw in his base a stirring of anti-mask characterizations and other things, and he played into those things because I think it felt like a different route," Slavitt said.
"I think those were things that cost us a lot of lives," said Slavitt, who is promoting his book that will be released on Tuesday, "Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response."
Slavitt also said officials' "quashing of dissent" contributed to the pandemic.
"Early in this pandemic, in February, they sent out orders, the Department of Health and Human Services. For 45 days, they were not even allowed to talk to the press simply because [former Secretary] Alex Azar wanted to say the expression that things were going fine but could change rapidly," Slavitt said.
"Anybody that disagreed with the narrative the president wanted was squashed," he added.