On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell became the latest Republican to excuse Trump's slow response to the coronavirus pandemic by blaming impeachment, despite the fact that Trump's own words during the impeachment proceedings refute the argument.
Impeachment "diverted the attention of the government because everything, every day was all about impeachment," McConnell said in a radio interview. Other Republicans, including Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and John Cornyn of Texas, have recently used impeachment as an excuse for Trump's inaction as well. Other Republicans have also implied Trump's response was hurt by impeachment, including Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Scott DesJarlais, both from Tennessee, and Rep. Bill Flores of Texas.
In late January and early February, as the Senate trial was underway, he posted pictures of himself at a briefing with experts about coronavirus, reassured Americans that the administration was "on top of it 24/7," restricted travel from China, and told Americans that his administration had "pretty much shut it down coming in from China."
Trump even had time to travel to Iowa for a campaign rally on Jan. 30, during the Senate trial, where he bragged that he was continuing to work while Democrats were "consumed with partisan rage and obsessed with a deranged witch-hunt hoax."
A timeline of the impeachment, the coronavirus crisis, and Trump's own words and actions shows Trump was not distracted by impeachment as Republicans are now claiming:
Oct. 31, 2019
The House of Representatives officially passes a resolution outlining the impeachment process.
Nov. 13, 2019
Trump tells reporters that he is not watching the House impeachment hearings.
"It's a witch hunt, it's a hoax, I'm too busy to watch it," Trump says. In a video Trump circulated around that time, he says, "They're trying to stop me because I'm fighting for you. And I'll never let that happen."
Dec. 17, 2019
Trump tweets that he is not concerned about impeachment.
"They want to Impeach me (I'm not worried!)," Trump writes. "These people are Crazy!"
Dec. 18, 2019
Trump is the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives. The House impeaches him for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.
Jan. 6, 2020
The Washington Times reports that Trump is "too busy to devote his attention to the 'political hoax' in Congress." The report comes days after Trump orders a military strike that kills a top Iranian general.
Jan. 8, 2020
Scientists identify a new coronavirus in China. At this time, there are no reported deaths linked to the new strain.
Jan. 9, 2020
"Those debates are boring and boring," Trump tells the crowd. "You got to sit through those things for two or three hours."
Jan. 21, 2020
Washington state reports the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in the United States.
Jan. 22, 2020
The Senate agrees to impeachment trial rules, clearing the way for the trial to begin.
Jan. 24, 2020
Trump tweets about the new coronavirus for the first time, praising China.
"China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus," Trump tweets. "The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!"
Jan. 27, 2020
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney begins to convene regular meetings on the coronavirus outbreak, but Trump is dismissive "because he did not believe that the virus had spread widely throughout the United States," the Washington Post reports.
Jan. 28, 2020
Trump retweets a news story from the far-right outlet One America News claiming that Johnson & Johnson is working on a coronavirus vaccine.
Jan. 29, 2020
As the Senate trial is proceeding, Trump tweets photos of himself receiving a briefing on the coronavirus outbreak from various agencies.
"Just received a briefing on the Coronavirus in China from all of our GREAT agencies, who are also working closely with China," Trump writes. "We will continue to monitor the ongoing developments. We have the best experts anywhere in the world, and they are on top of it 24/7!"
Jan. 30, 2020
Trump tweets that he is "Working closely with China and others on Coronavirus outbreak. Only 5 people in U.S., all in good recovery."
That evening, Trump goes to Iowa to hold a campaign rally, bragging that he is not distracted by the impeachment trial.
"While we're proudly creating jobs and killing terrorists, congressional Democrats are consumed with partisan rage and obsessed with a deranged witch-hunt hoax," Trump tells the crowd.
That same day, the World Health Organization declares the coronavirus outbreak to be a global health emergency.
Jan. 31, 2020
As the Senate impeachment trial continues, Trump issues travel restrictions from China, where the new coronavirus was first discovered.
Feb. 2, 2020
Trump claims Americans have nothing to worry about from the coronavirus outbreak, saying, "We pretty much shut it down coming in from China," and adding, "So we're gonna see what happens, but we did shut it down, yes."
Feb. 5, 2020
In the morning, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) attends a Trump administration briefing on the new coronavirus.
"Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus," Murphy tweets. "Bottom line: they aren't taking this seriously enough. Notably, no request for ANY emergency funding, which is a big mistake. Local health systems need supplies, training, screening staff etc. And they need it now."
Later that day, Senate Republicans acquit Trump of both impeachment counts.
Feb. 10, 2020
Trump continues to downplay the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, saying, "We're in great shape though. We have 12 cases, 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape."
Feb. 26, 2020
Trump predicts that the outbreak will be over within days.
"When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero," Trump says. "That's a pretty good job we've done."
Feb. 29, 2020
The first confirmed death from the coronavirus is reported in the United States.
March 29, 2020
Trump redefines what a "good job" by his administration in handling the coronavirus outbreak would look like, hoping that fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. will die.
"And so, if we can hold that down, as we're saying, to 100,000 — that's a horrible number — maybe even less, but to 100,000, so we have between 100 and 200,000 [deaths from coronavirus], we all together have done a very good job," Trump says during a Rose Garden press conference.
March 31, 2020
There are at least 173,741 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S, according to the New York Times, and at least 3,433 people have died.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.