House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday condemned President Donald Trump’s efforts early on to downplay the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that it unmasked his “contempt” for the American people and for his own supporters.
“This is a tragedy beyond words,” Pelosi said in a news conference Thursday morning, adding: “He showed his contempt for the American people and their health, contempt for science. Contempt for any real effort to crush the virus. Contempt for his supporters — their children, their parents.”
Pelosi said that Trump’s refusal to take the threat of coronavirus seriously when he was briefed on how devastatingly deadly it was back in January left the entire country “exposed and unprepared.”
The comments follow revelations Wednesday from investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book, “Rage,” that quote President Trump in audio-recorded interviews as saying he knew the coronavirus was “deadly stuff” even though for months he has painted the pandemic as a nonthreatening non-issue that was “going to disappear.”
Hours after the remarks came to light, Trump defended his comments to Woodward saying on Wednesday he sought to be a “cheerleader” as he blew smoke and the country flailed — leading to massive spread of the disease in the U.S., which has killed close to 200,000 people in the United States since March.
“Nobody wants to cause panic,” Pelosi said, castigating the President’s justification for his failure to paint a genuine picture for what was at stake. “You want to show leadership, show a strategic plan, following the science, allocating the resources — in order to get the job done.”
But as Pelosi tore into Trump, conservative commentators have continued to defend a defenseless President — rushing to Trump’s aid as he fails to justify his own deception.
Early Thursday, Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy likened Trump’s vast understatement of the virus to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression hosting “fireside chats to calm America.”
Another Fox News host, Stuart Varney, said he thought it was “fine and dandy” that President Trump had avoided revealing the truth to the public.
The comments and complicity appear to echo those of Republican lawmakers who have largely declined to condemn the move — either claiming ignorance about the book or pointing fingers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told CNN he “didn’t look at the Woodward book.”
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) remarked during an MSNBC interview Thursday that Republican leaders have been “amazingly silent” on a number of troubling issues, including Trump’s comments in the Woodward book.
Schiff told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that GOP leadership in Congress and “all too much of its membership has become a cult of personality around the President.”
Early Thursday, Trump falsely stated that Woodward agreed with his decision to downplay the severity of the virus, saying that if the journalist believed otherwise he would have released his findings sooner.
Woodward has attributed the delay in his reporting to checking the veracity of Trump’s claims as the President is known to distort information.