House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, speaks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.
Amanda Andrade-Rhoades | Bloomberg via Getty Images
House Democrats slammed the administration’s response to the pandemic Thursday, saying in a new report that President Donald Trump “intentionally misled the American public on every aspect of the pandemic” and it’s led to needless deaths and job losses.
Led by Rep. James Clyburn, chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, House Democrats released a scathing report titled “A Failure to Lead: The Trump administration’s Disastrous Response to the Coronaviurs Pandemic.”
“President Trump’s deadly denial, distortion and delay has led to the worst federal response to a national emergency in our history,” according to the report released by the Democratic chairmen of at least a half dozen House committees. “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.”
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. is grappling with the worst Covid-19 outbreak in the world with more than 4.8 million of the world’s 18.8 million confirmed cases so far and at least 158,300 of the 708,469 fatalities across the world.
Trump told reporters at a White House press briefing Wednesday that the coronavirus is”going away. It’ll go away. Things go away. No question in my mind that it will go away.” Trump’s comments stand in stark contrast to what World Health Organization officials and some of his own advisors have said about the virus.
Clyburn said the president “seems to be in deep denial” and hasn’t listened to experts. “These statements aren’t just wrong, they are dangerous,” Clyburn said on a conference call with reporters.
Other lawmakers on the call criticized the Trump administration’s lack of a national Covid-19 response strategy, included Frank Pallone, Jr., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Richard Neal, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Carolyn B. Maloney, chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Bobby Scott, chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor.
“The fact of the matter is … the president is completely on another planet and doesn’t look at the facts, doesn’t look at the science,” Pallone said. “Trump is not part of the solution, he’s part of the problem … he creates even a worse problem for us because he gives the impression that the virus is not real, it’s not spreading.”
The report says Trump ignored early warning signs that the virus was taking hold in the U.S. and then spent months downplaying the crisis. Democrats fault Trump for failing to produce “an adequate” national testing strategy or plan to safely reopen schools. They also said Trump should have led a coordinated response among all 50 states and didn’t use the full power he has under the Defense Production Act to get enough personal protective equipment and supplies to health workers.
“The American people are desperate for leadership from President Trump and his Administration, yet the President continues to make a bad situation worse,” the report reads. “He continues to gamble with the lives of the American people and sow mass confusion that has crippled our nation’s response.”
Coronavirus relief bill discussions are set to continue Thursday evening. Congressional Democrats and the White House have spent nearly two weeks negotiating legislation that would provide additional unemployment and other aid to Americans and companies suffering from the pandemic.
This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.