GOP senator blames impeachment for Trump's bungled response to outbreak

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Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said the Trump administration did well considering that 'impeachment was going on.'

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who is self-quarantining after possible coronavirus exposure, said in an interview on Wednesday that the real reason for the slow government response to the COVID-19 crisis was the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Asked whether America was "caught as a nation with our pants down" by the outbreak, Gardner noted that the first reports about the coronavirus in China began early in 2020.

"I had said, 'We have to have a hearing. This sounds very serious. We have to have a hearing. We have to have a briefing.'" Gardner claimed. "And guess what was going on in the middle of all this? Impeachment was going on."

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"And now, even in the middle of impeachment, we were able to get HHS [the Department of Health and Human Services] and FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and the NIH [National Institutes of Health] together to talk about what they had learned at that point, what they knew about it at that point," he continued. "But Congress then went right back into the throes of impeachment."

The senator's interview on Denver's KNUS radio drew little notice until the independent news site Westword flagged it on Monday morning.

Gardner praised what he called "unprecedented" first steps in response to the growing outbreak, saying Trump's team "probably made some very wise steps early on."

For weeks, however, the Trump administration downplayed the crisis, pretending it was totally under control.

Two days after the first known case the U.S. was diagnosed on Jan. 20, Trump told CNBC, "We have it totally under control. It's one person coming in from China." During the first week of February, he boasted on Fox News, "We pretty much shut it down coming in from China. It's going to be fine."

As for Trump's impeachment, opening arguments began Jan. 22 and Trump did not attend any of the proceedings. None of his health advisers had any role in the impeachment either. He was acquitted on Feb. 5 by the GOP-controlled Senate.

At the end of February, Trump was still bragging about his coronavirus response: "Because of all we've done, the risk to the American people remains very low. … When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That's a pretty good job we've done."

Harvard Global Health Institute head Ashish Jha told Bloomberg last week that the administration wasted about two months, failing to ramp up widespread coronavirus testing. The impeachment trial ended about two weeks after the first case of coronavirus was reported in the United States.

As of Monday, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention reported at least 33,404 COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Still, Trump is already talking about returning the nation to business as usual within days, despite medical experts' expectations that the worst is yet to come.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.