Trump blamed for ‘needless’ coronavirus deaths by N.J.’s Pallone, other top House Democrats
In advance of an election in which the coronavirus pandemic will be a major campaign issue, New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. and other top House Democrats issued a scathing report Thursday laying the government’s failure to control the virus at the feet of President Donald Trump.
“President Trump’s deadly denial, distortion and delay has led to the worst federal response to a national emergency in our history,” the report said. “His actions are directly responsible for tens of thousands of needless deaths, tens of millions of people out of work, and mass confusion that has crippled our nation’s response.”
“Nobody can do what I’ve done in terms of all of the things that we’re doing to combat this horrible disease that never should have been sent to us, that was sent — it came from China; should never have been allowed to leave China,” Trump said Thursday before leaving the White House for a trip to Ohio and then to New Jersey, where he’ll stay at his Bedminister golf club.
Democrats from presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden on down have blasted Trump’s actions, including pressuring states to reopen their economies and school districts to reopen their classrooms, even as coronavirus cases continue to climb.
The Democratic committee chairs on Thursday said Trump refused to establish a national testing strategy and left it to each state instead, ignored early warnings about the virus, and refused to cooperate with congressional efforts to investigate the administration’s actions.
They criticized Trump for refusing to push for the widespread use of face masks, for touting the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus even though his own Food and Drug Administration has warned against it, and for continuing to proclaim, as he did Wednesday, that the virus simply would “go away.”
“The president is completely on another planet, doesn’t look at the facts, doesn’t look the science,” Pallone, D-6th Dist., said on a Zoom call with other Democratic committee chairs and reporters.
“The problem is Trump is not part of the solution, he is part of the problem. He creates even a worse problem for us because he gives the impression that the virus is not real, that it’s not spreading. We have a president that is completely ignoring it.”
Through Wednesday, 4.85 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and 159,407 have died of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has more cases and more deaths than any other country.
“We, the United States, have suffered as worst or, you know, as much or worse than anyone,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Wednesday. “I mean, when you look at the number of infections and the number of deaths, it really is quite concerning.”
Asked if the U.S. had the worst outbreak, Fauci said: “Quantitatively, if you look at it, it is. I mean, the numbers don’t lie.”
The report was released Thursday by Pallone’s House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as the Education and Labor, Financial Services, Oversight and Reform, Small Business, and Ways and Means committees and the select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
It was issued as White House aides and congressional Democratic leaders continued to negotiate new stimulus legislation. House Democrats passed a $3 trillion bill more than two months ago but Senate Republicans and the White House let it languish until just days before $600 a week in extra federal unemployment insurance benefits were about to expire.
In a July Quinnipiac University survey, more than six in 10 registered voters, 62%, disapproved of the way Trump was handling the coronavirus pandemic, with just 35% in approving.