Donald Trump and his enablers aren’t denying that the president’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has been subpar. What they are doing instead is, blaming Democrats and the impeachment trial by saying it was a distraction that kept Trump from preparing for the COVID-19 outbreak.
That is what Mitch McConnell did on Tuesday when he blamed that lack of preparation on Democrats — arguing that they were too obsessed with impeachment to focus on a health crisis.
But those claims are now being shut down by conservative attorney George Conway, who wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post explaining just how the administration did not take the outbreak seriously.
On March 31, Conway asserts, McConnell “added to the disgrace by claiming that impeachment distracted officials from dealing with the coronavirus. Speaking to radio host and Post columnist Hugh Hewitt, McConnell said the virus ‘came up while we were, you know, tied down in the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government, because everything, every day, was all about impeachment.’”
McConnell’s theory, according to Conway, is ludicrous.
“Look at the calendar: the impeachment trial ended on February 5,” Conway stresses. “In reality, it was over before it even started, thanks in large part to McConnell. The only drama was about whether there’d be any witnesses — and that ended on January 31, when the Senate voted not to hear testimony. That left plenty of time to deal with the virus.”
Conway adds, “While some lawyers in the executive branch and Congress were working on impeachment around the clock, impeachment didn’t consume the government. Trump managed to get to Mar-a-Lago at least four times in January and February, working in a few rounds of golf along the way. He held five campaign rallies around the country during the impeachment trial.”
Conway goes on to note multiple times where Trump commented on the virus during January and February.
“On January 22,” Conway recalls, “he told CNBC, ‘We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.’ On January 24, he tweeted, ‘China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!’”
Conway continues, “On January 30, at a speech in Michigan, he said again, ‘We think we have it very well under control.’ On February 2, referring to his administration’s January 31 order partially banning travel from China, Trump told Sean Hannity, ‘We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.’”
Impeachment, Conway emphasizes, “didn’t keep U.S. intelligence agencies from warning the president and Congress in January and February about the danger of the virus.” And Conway adds that on February 5, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut tweeted that the Trump Administration — based on intel warnings — needed to take COVID-19 a lot more seriously.
Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus. Bottom line: they aren't taking this seriously enough.
Notably, no request for ANY emergency funding, which is a big mistake. Local health systems need supplies, training, screening staff etc. And they need it now.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 5, 2020
On February 5th, I sat in a meeting with top Administration officials as Senators pressed them to request emergency funding to hire staff and stockpile supplies for the coming crisis.
They said they had it covered. Didn’t need any additional funding.
What a fatal screw up. https://t.co/SGrH9q7QS7
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) March 30, 2020
This shows that Democrats weren’t taking the outbreak lightly, but the White House was.
“The problem wasn’t impeachment — it was the president,” Conway asserts. “There was never any chance that the government was going to take sufficient action on the virus when the president himself wasn’t taking the virus seriously. It was Trump, after all, who claimed — at the very end of February, weeks after the impeachment trial had ended — that criticisms such as Murphy’s were a ‘hoax’ and that ‘within a couple days,’ the number of coronavirus cases ‘is going to be down to close to zero.’”
“For Trump, it’s always about Trump and only Trump,” Conway adds. “If anything, it was McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans’ refusal to remove him, not the impeachment itself, that helped bring us to where we are today.”