Donald Trump is trying mightily to (i) make the public forget his previous lies about the coronavirus and his regime's failure to act when it should have, and (ii) change the subject such as co-opting today's press conference with a drug trafficking announcement. But, it is important to remember that Trump was aided and abetted in his failure to properly respond by Republicans, especially those in the U.S. Senate who ignored the pandemic threat and did what they always do: kiss Trump's ass and attack Democrats sounding the alarm. Among the worse offenders is Mitch McConnell who is in a race with Trump for the title of who most damaged constitutional government. A column in the Washington Post looks at McConnell's recent disingenuous remarks and his own malfeasance in failing to protect the nation while preoccupied protecting Trump (and lining his own and his wife's pockets), Here are column excerpts:
Mitch McConnell got an early jump on April Fools’ Day this year, blaming Democrats for the Trump administration’s failure to prepare for the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It came up while we were, you know, tied down in the impeachment trial,” the Senate majority leader said Tuesday. “And I think it diverted the attention of the government.”
In addition to implicitly acknowledging that
PresidentTrump wasn’t paying attention to the growing danger, it was a curious entry into the blame game for the Kentucky Republican, who recently said this isn’t “a time for partisan bickering.”
If anybody was diverted, it was McConnell, who, along with most of his GOP colleagues, again put lockstep defense of the president ahead of the national interest. During the three weeks of the impeachment trial, public health experts gave stark warnings about the growing biological threat. In that same time, several Senate Democrats (and a few Republicans) urged a more robust mobilization.
You know who said nothing? McConnell. . . . the first time he spoke about the coronavirus in public was Feb. 25, nearly three weeks after the impeachment trial ended, when he was asked at a news conference whether administration officials are “on the same page when it comes to combating coronavirus.”
In his first substantive remarks on the virus, two days later, he praised the Trump administration’s response to the virus and condemned Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s “partisan political attacks,” “posturing” and “performative outrage” because Schumer called Trump’s coronavirus funding request inadequate.
After the impeachment trial ended and as the coronavirus menace grew, McConnell had the Senate take up two campaign-year abortion bills that had no chance of passage.
It was an echo of the impeachment trial itself. During impeachment, public servants and Democrats warned that Trump was putting his political interests (an announced probe of his opponent) over national security (by withholding military aid to an ally in distress) — and Republicans stood by him. Likewise, as the virus spread, experts and many Democrats pleaded for more urgency. But Trump put his political interests (stock market gains) ahead of public health (by playing down the virus danger). And Republicans averted their gaze.
In the middle of the impeachment trial, on Jan. 26, Schumer demanded that the administration declare a public health emergency so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could access more funds. . . . Senate Democrats point to 32 other warnings, requests and statements they made seeking action against the virus — all while the Senate impeachment trial was underway.
More general warnings long pre-dated impeachment and came from a few Republicans, too. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) warned in 2017 about Trump’s attempts to cut funding for pandemic preparedness. In 2018, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) repeatedly warned the White House that we are “unprepared for pandemic outbreaks.”
Senate Republicans knew the coronavirus danger. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (N.C.), while saying publicly that we were “better prepared than ever,” seems to have been spooked enough about the coming pandemic to sell off stock worth as much as $1.7 million in mid-February and is now under Justice Department investigation. Around the same time, Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.), the Republican chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, complained that administration officials refused to participate in a hearing where he received alarming forecasts about the virus.
And so a bad situation turned into a catastrophe because of a familiar pathology: a president who repeatedly puts self-interest above the national interest — and political allies in Congress who let him.