Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued to toe the Trump administration line in a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday, this time leading him to refuse to deny that coronavirus is a “hoax.”
Pompeo’s non-denial of the rapidly spreading virus came under questioning from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who asked the country’s top diplomat whether he believed that the coronavirus is the “hoax of the day.”
“The State Department is doing everything it can to protect American citizens around the world,” Pompeo replied, dismissing the question as “a gotcha moment, it’s not useful.”
Lieu raised the question at a hearing devoted to Trump administration policy towards Iran. Multiple lawmakers used the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the Islamic republic as a springboard to question Pompeo about the Trump administration’s response to the virus.
Lieu referenced comments made by Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney that the press is covering the coronavirus outbreak due to the end of the impeachment “hoax.”
“The reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is what’s going to bring down the President,” Mulvaney said at CPAC on Friday morning. “That’s what this is all about.”
Lieu slightly mischaracterized Mulvaney’s remarks, asking Pompeo if he agreed with Mulvaney that “the coronavirus is the hoax of the day.”
“I’m not gonna comment on what others are saying,” Pompeo replied. “I’m just telling you what the secretary of state is doing.”
Lieu then asked Pompeo if he was going to leave the hearing to speak at CPAC.
“So you can only give two hours to this bipartisan group of members of Congress and instead of answering questions on life and death issues from a bipartisan group of representatives you’re gonna go talk to a special interest group?” Lieu asked.
“Yes,” Pompeo replied.
Lieu’s fulmination and Pompeo’s dismissive stonewalling characterized much of the hearing, as Democrats assailed Pompeo for only giving the House two hours of his time.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) recalled Pompeo “thundering away” at a predecessor of his — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — during the Benghazi hearings.
“I can remember vividly, you thundering away at Secretary Clinton during the Benghazi hearing,
“You know what? She showed up voluntarily, sat there for 11 hours. But with you, sir, we had to move heaven and earth to get you here today for just two hours,” Meeks said. “To me that shows disregard for the oversight responsibilities of the United States Congress.”