Trump admits he would have ignored coronavirus even without impeachment


Republicans have been trying to blame impeachment for the federal government's slow response to the coronavirus, but Trump just contradicted them.

Donald Trump on Tuesday dismissed the spreading Republican excuse that impeachment led to a slow and botched response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I don't think I would have done any better had I not been impeached," Trump said at his daily coronavirus news conference from the White House. "And I think that's a great tribute to something — maybe it's a tribute to me — but I don't think I would've acted any differently, or I don't think I would've acted any faster."

A handful of GOP lawmakers have blamed the impeachment proceedings for the Trump administration's failure to take swift action as the coronavirus spread in the United States — an admission that the Trump administration was slow to respond in and of itself.

As news of a potential outbreak surfaced in China last year, the administration ignored guidelines from a National Security Council playbook compiled in 2016 by former President Barack Obama's administration, which laid out steps Trump could have taken to stop a pandemic in its tracks, including ensuring proper diagnostic capability, stockpiling personal protective equipment and other critical tools, and delivering a "unified message" from the beginning.

Following a slow initial response, the Trump administration has faced criticism over the shortage of testing kits, the lack of personal protective equipment for front-line medical workers, and mixed messages from Trump, including how seriously to take the virus.

As that criticism grew, GOP lawmakers unveiled a new strategy to divert attention from Trump's shortcomings.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner was one of the first Republicans to blame impeachment for the slow response, saying on March 23: "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.' And guess what was going on in the middle of all this? Impeachment was going on."

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas also said impeachment slowed Trump's response, tweeting on March 24 that Trump "did lose 'precious weeks' forced to defend himself against bogus impeachment charges."

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pinned the bungled response on impeachment, telling right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday that impeachment "diverted the attention of the government because everything, every day was all about impeachment."

But as soon as that message appeared to solidify among the GOP rank and file, Trump knocked it down.

"Did it divert my attention? I think I'm getting A-plusses for the way I handled myself during a phony impeachment," Trump said Tuesday.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.