House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told fellow Democrats on Monday that it was “almost sinful” the way the Trump administration has handled the epidemic over the novel Wuhan coronavirus, citing the federal government’s failure to provide adequate testing along with personal protective equipment for states caught shorthanded.
“The more misrepresentations he puts out there, the more it obscures the truth,” Pelosi said of President Donald Trump’s actions regarding the virus in a private phone call with members of her caucus, according to Politico. “We have to insist upon the truth — what they’re saying is not knowledge, is not facts, is not real.”
Pelosi slammed Trump’s efforts to restart the economy by the first of May in particular, calling it impossible for the administration to promise a safe reopening without testing capacity ramped up to meet the needs for millions of Americans.
If Trump’s plan to get the nation working again is “sinful,” however, then so are the plans of at least 10 state governors who have announced their intentions to reopen businesses in their shut-down states, including Democratic Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gavin Newsom of California. In fact, nine Democratic governors have publicly discussed their plans for a reopening of their states.
“Addressing public health and the economy: Which one is first? They’re both first,” Cuomo said.
Trump has repeatedly expressed his own desire to lift restrictions to get Americans working again as the coronavirus takes a heavy toll on the nation’s economy, rendering millions newly unemployed each week the country remains shut down.
Last week, data released from the U.S. Department of Labor show 16.8 million Americans have filed new unemployment claims within a span of three weeks. Each week shattered the previous record for new filings within a single week, set in 1982 with 695,000 claims. Further, nearly a quarter of the nation’s small businesses reported being less than two months away from permanent closure if lockdowns remain in place, according to a survey published two weeks ago by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife.
The federal government was indeed caught off guard. Testing capacity was inadequate, bureaucratic red tape barred states from conducting tests of their own, tests supplied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) didn’t work, and the CDC misguided Americans on preventative measures to slow the spread of the virus. The national stockpile of supplies had also been understocked, with expired equipment that had not been replenished under President Barack Obama following the Swine flu epidemic in 2009.
Yet while Pelosi condemns the Trump administration for the federal government’s failures amid the pandemic, the House speaker has made no mention of her role in keeping the nation fixated on Democrats’ partisan impeachment efforts while the outbreak was brewing abroad.
As the new year turned the corner, Pelosi was holding the articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives hostage until Senate Republicans heeded to her demands on how a trial in the upper chamber be conducted before conceding she had no leverage and releasing them without a single concession. Pelosi’s play stalled the impeachment trial from even beginning in the Senate for four weeks, finally kicking off as the coronavirus outbreak worsened in China and reached American shores while the trial was finally getting underway. The New York Times reported on the first American coronavirus case on Jan. 21. Meanwhile, the lead story in the paper that morning read, “McConnell Unveils Impeachment Trial Rules as Trump Requests Swift Acquittal.”
It’s almost sinful that Pelosi kept the country focused on a sham impeachment rather than dealing with consequential threats emerging from abroad.
The president, on the other hand, was implementing critical measures to combat the virus while his stay in the Oval Office was under siege on Capitol Hill, including a travel ban on China that was condemned by former Vice President Joe Biden as “xenophobic.”
Read a chronology of Trump’s response to the virus here.