Who is Matthew Pottinger? Meet the architect of the great 2020 U.S. lockdown

by WorldTribune Staff, July 25, 2022

A former intelligence officer who quickly rose to prominence among Beltway insiders played an outsized role in the lockdown of the United States in 2020, an analysis said.

It was Matthew Pottinger, then deputy national security adviser, who appointed Deborah Birx as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Birx noted in her memoir “Silent Invasion”. Birx was a leading proponent of the lockdown strategy.

Matthew Pottinger resigned from the Trump White House on Jan. 6, 2021.

Although Pottinger held a key positions on Asia in the Trump White House, WorldTribune.com reported on July 22, 2022 that he told the Select Committee on July 21 that he decided to resign on Jan. 6, 2021. “I was disturbed and worried to see that the president was attacking Vice President Pence for doing his constitutional duty.”

Pottinger is also portrayed as a leading protagonist in three different pro-lockdown books on America’s response to Covid: “The Plague Year” by the New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright; “Nightmare Scenario” by The Washington Post’s Yasmeen Abutaleb; and “Chaos Under Heaven” by The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin.

“Pottinger’s singularly outsized role in pushing for alarm, shutdowns, mandates, and science from China in the early months of Covid is extremely well-documented,” Michael P. Senger wrote in a July 20 substack.com analysis.

“Pottinger’s enormous influence during Covid is especially surprising not only because of his absence from online discussion about these events, but because of who he is,” Senger added.

Pottinger, the son of leading Department of Justice official Stanley Pottinger, graduated with a degree in Chinese studies in 1998 before going to work as a journalist in China for seven years, where he reported on topics including the original SARS. In 2005, Pottinger left journalism and obtained an age waiver to join the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Over several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pottinger became a decorated intelligence officer and met General Michael Flynn, who later appointed him to the National Security Council (NSC). Pottinger was originally in line to be China Director, but Flynn gave him the more senior job of Asia Director,” Senger noted. “Despite being new to civilian government, Pottinger outlasted many others in Trump’s White House.”

Pottinger was named deputy national security advisor in September 2019.

“Pottinger is best known as a China hawk, but a smart and sophisticated one. He’s been ahead of the curve in calling out China’s increasingly aggressive geopolitical stance, articulating this challenge with near-perfect eloquence,” Senger wrote.

A Politico feature on Pottinger noted: “While hawks like Bannon love his tough views toward China, even Democrats call his views basically mainstream. Still, some foreign policy experts…wonder what a nice guy like him is doing in a place like this.”

The New York Times wrote: “He’s a very effective bureaucratic player, which is saying something because he’s never had a policy job before.”

The Washington Post wrote: “Matt has an extraordinary sense of caution that, ‘Let’s not push something unless the president clearly has approved it.’ This is different from other members of White House staff.”

Senger added: “From the center-right to the center-left and the far right to the far left, it’s tough to find anyone on the Beltway short on praise for Matt Pottinger. Everything about Pottinger is silky smooth. Between the lines of glowing coverage are not-so-subtle winks and nudges that he’d make an excellent candidate for higher office.”

Senger detailed Pottinger’s major role in crafting U.S. Covid policy: In January 2020, “Pottinger popularized shutdowns within the White House using a dubious study on the 1918 flu pandemic comparing outcomes between Philadelphia and St. Louis, a month before this study received any significant media attention.”

Senger added: “If you live in the United States, you probably remember the ludicrous study that made the rounds among major media outlets in March 2020 comparing outcomes in Philadelphia and St. Louis during the 1918 Spanish flu. According to the study, St. Louis canceled its annual parade, closed schools, and discouraged gatherings in 1918, while Philadelphia did not, so Philadelphia was punished when thousands of residents died of flu over the coming weeks. Therefore, these media outlets argued, it somehow logically followed that we should shut down the entire United States economy in 2020.

“One man who was several weeks ahead of media outlets in citing this claptrap was Matt Pottinger, who began popularizing the idea of shutdowns within the White House by circulating this study among his White House colleagues on Jan. 31, 2020.

In February 2020, Pottinger, “who has no background in science or public health, began a months-long campaign to popularize universal masking and travel quarantines in response to the coronavirus based on information from his own sources in China,” Senger noted, adding that “Pottinger began wearing a mask to work in early March to convince his White House colleagues to take up the practice.”

Sometime in February 2020, Pottinger “appears to have promoted within the White House the idea of mass testing for the coronavirus,” Senger noted.

Using the standard PCR testing guidance published by the WHO, approximately 85% to 90% of tests were false positives, which was confirmed by The New York Times.

In March 2020, Pottinger “appears to have endorsed use of the drug remdesivir as a possible Covid therapy based on information from a doctor in China,” Senger wrote. “The health outcomes of remdesivir remain unknown, but no benefit to the mortality of its recipients has been proven.”

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