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A ‘Profile in Courage,’ National Security Advisor Praises Trump’s Virus Leadership

Imposing the China travel ban “was a profile in courage. And it was something that the president was criticized for by his political opponents and by many in the media,” O’Brien said

A ‘Profile in Courage,’ National Security Advisor Praises Trump

NBC's News' Chuck Todd and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

NBCNews/Screencap

While the official U.S. coronavirus death toll moves closer to 100,000 and President Trump played golf for a second consecutive day, his national security advisor heaped praise on the president saying Trump’s move to limit travel from China this winter “was a profile in courage.”

Sunday morning on Meet the Press, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien gave the president credit for acting on his advice to “immediately impose a travel ban on China” in late January. O’Brien said he told Trump that the move was needed because the coronavirus was a “significant national security threat.”

After host Chuck Todd showed video clips from this year where Trump completely contradicts his current blame China stance, voicing his approval of China President Xi Jinping’s handling of the virus, Todd pointed out that as late as March 14 the president said that the virus “was no one’s fault.” In response, O’Brien didn’t just defend Trump, he heaped over-the-top praise on the president for moving ahead with a limited travel ban.

“I think the thing we have to focus on with the virus and what the president did is for the first time in the Oval Office briefing on the 28th of January when I raised with the president that this was a significant national security threat, he immediately, against the advice of many of his other advisers, he immediately imposed a travel ban on China on the 30th, two days later,” O’Brien said.

“It was a profile in courage. And it was something that he was criticized for by his political opponents and by many in the media,” O’Brien continued. “That saved countless lives. I think that’s the thing that we have to focus on with China.”

The national security advisor went on to place the blame entirely on China for allowing travel to Europe that then led to infected people coming to the U.S. But he did not acknowledge the lack of foresight of Trump’s own administration regarding that rather simple calculation. And, according to the New York Times, nearly 40,000 people have traveled to the U.S. directly from China since Trump’s imposed ban. Additionally, by the time the president imposed travel limitations, the virus was already here in the United States.

O’Brien’s “profile in courage” tout stems from, as he said, the fact that Trump imposed the travel ban “against the advice of many of his other advisers” and that the president “was criticized” by “his political opponents and by many in the media.”

That’s a pretty low bar for the use of the word courage.

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