Texas Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw went head to head with HBO’s Bill Maher Friday night over the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic stemming from the Wuhan coronavirus.
Maher began by challenging Crenshaw on the Trump administration’s supposed slow response to the outbreak.
“He was warned,” Maher began, going on to deliver a brief timeline of advisers warning Trump of the impending crisis. “This did not have to happen… Peter Navarro, somebody else who talks to Trump a lot told him directly January 29th you’ve got to get ahead of this.”
This is so worth watching. @billmaher gives voice (respectfully) to his real concerns on Corona – which we’ve heard from many of Trump’s critics – and @DanCrenshawTX addresses each one with facts. pic.twitter.com/useB0gIRv4
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) April 20, 2020
Crenshaw answered by giving context to the timeline offered by Maher, noting that soon after Trump was warned that an outbreak was likely coming, the president shut down travel to China while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was pushing through legislation to resist White House efforts.
“Two days later he implemented a restrictive travel ban from China which he was widely criticized for,” Crenshaw said. “That same day, on January 31st, Nancy Pelosi proposed the ‘No Ban Act,’ which would be congressional limitation on what President Trump is actually able to do with the travel restriction.”
Maher pushed back on Crenshaw’s point noting that thousands of people still made it to the United States from China after the ban was implemented. “He lies about that,” Maher said.
“Let me address that,” Crenshaw responded. “The reality is…these are U.S. citizens and green card holders and passport holders being repatriated.”
“It sounds to me like you’re fully agreeing with President Trump on this when everybody else disagreed with him,” Crenshaw kept going, adding that Joe Biden was among those who roundly criticized Trump’s early steps to slow the virus’ spread. “If you’re saying that you wish that travel restriction had been more extreme, okay fine, you apparently had the foresight when nobody else did. The fact is that if Joe Biden was in charge at that moment, he’s already said he wouldn’t have done it, he criticized it at the time. Nancy Pelosi actually proposed legislation to stop it.”
Maher then moved the conversation to the federal government’s actions in the subsequent months citing the president’s false assertion that anybody who needed a test could get a test.
Crenshaw went on to concede that government testing proceeded slower than preferable, but countered claims that Republicans were ignoring the coming crisis by pointing out that while the Trump administration was requesting supplemental funding for coronavirus, House Democrats passed a bill to ban flavored e-cigarettes instead.
“February 24th, that’s when the administration requested two and a half billion dollars from Congress to fulfill CDC, NIH, and FDA funding to combat the virus,” Crenshaw said. “Did we vote on a supplemental funding bill? No. Did we wait days to vote? No. Still didn’t vote on it. You know what we voted on later that week? Nancy Pelosi, the only thing that she would put on the floor to vote on was a bill to ban flavored tobacco.”
Crenshaw also refuted arguments lodged by many in the press that the country should have been shut down weeks earlier than states had implemented shelter in place orders in March.
“By March 3rd, there was only 102 cases in the United States, and yet I am hearing criticism that we should have been locked down until weeks earlier. But do you think the American people would have accepted that with only 100 cases in the United States?” Crenshaw said. “When people make these accusations, I have to ask them a question: Is the goal to make Trump look bad or is the goal to get to the truth?”