Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), perhaps the central figure in Democrats’ impeachment of President Donald Trump, began circulating draft legislation to investigate Trump’s response to the coronavirus. In his press release on Friday, Schiff claimed the investigation is “not an exercise in casting blame or scoring political points,” but Republicans are naturally skeptical.
On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced a new coronavirus oversight committee, headed by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), who last month said the pandemic gives Democrats “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” After all, Democrats stalled the $2 trillion stimulus bill in order to stuff it with their own liberal pet projects.
The very idea of Democrats investigating Trump’s coronavirus response seems rich, considering what they were doing during the first few weeks the coronavirus spread in the U.S.
The first confirmed coronavirus case in the U.S. came on January 20, 2020, when Schiff was focused on prosecuting the impeachment case against President Donald Trump. Trump wasn’t acquitted by the U.S. Senate until February 5. On February 14, Democrats set their sights on Attorney General William Barr, perhaps beginning the process of impeaching him. That week, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) floated the idea of impeaching Trump again — over his tweets.
While Democrats were busy impeaching Trump and trying to tie his hands on Iran, the Centers for Disease Control under Trump issued travel notices for Wuhan, China, and it began implementing public health entry screening at U.S. airports. On January 20, Dr. Anthony Fauci announced the National Institutes of Health was already working on the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus. Trump launched the Coronavirus Task Force on January 29 and declared a public health emergency on January 31. While the president did give mixed messages about the virus in his public statements, he took early decisive action to stop the spread.
Democrats opposed Trump’s travel restrictions. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to block the restrictions as late as March 5.
Schiff did not address the coronavirus until February 25. As for Pelosi, she toured San Francisco’s Chinatown on February 24 in order to discourage fears about the coronavirus. “We want to say to people, ‘Come to Chinatown!’ Here we are again, careful, safe, and come join us,” she said.
This didn’t age well for Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi today on coronavirus vs Pelosi on Feb. 24th on coronavirus. pic.twitter.com/yqadZ4e6cr
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) April 2, 2020
As for oversight, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) noted that the $2 trillion stimulus bill Trump recently signed set up no fewer than three oversight commissions. “Speaker Pelosi’s ambition to create a select committee on the coronavirus isn’t about oversight,” he tweeted. “It’s pure politics.”
Speaker Pelosi's ambition to create a select committee on the coronavirus crisis isn't about oversight. It's pure politics.
She wants to exploit this crisis in order to fundamentally restructure America and advance her political agenda. pic.twitter.com/hYHXx6F5kS
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) April 3, 2020
“With respect to the Democrats investigating the coronavirus, that would be like Jack the Ripper investigating the failures of the London police force,” Mark Levin told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday. “The fact is that Adam Schiff, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was running an impeachment coup for months. He should have been on top of the China matter. He should have been on top of the virus matter and so I want to know what Adam Schiff knew and when he knew it and when he started to hold hearings.”
“This guy is a disgrace, he is a reprobate and he should stop giving aid and comfort to the enemy. First, it was Russia, now it’s China,” Levin said of Schiff.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich slammed Pelosi for a lack of patriotism.
“Speaker Pelosi versus patriotism. How could any serious person suggest that the people fighting against the coronavirus 7 days a week should now take time to deal with subpoenas from a House investigation. I am appalled at her lack of concern for American lives,” he tweeted.
Speaker Pelosi versus patriotism. How could any serious person suggest that the people fighting against the coronavirus 7 days a week should now take time to deal with subpoenas from a House investigation. I am appalled at her lack of concern for American lives.
— newtgingrich (@newtgingrich) April 2, 2020
Democrats should not be rushing to create a new investigation in the midst of a crisis. Schiff has repeatedly compared his idea for an investigation to the 9/11 Commission. Unlike the horrific terror attacks of September 11, 2001, which took place in a day, the coronavirus is an ongoing crisis. There may well come a time for an investigation into the U.S.’s handling of the coronavirus, but Democrats should at least wait until we’re out of the woods.
Democrats spent the first few days of the crisis continuing their impeachment effort, and now they’re launching more investigations in the middle of the ongoing crisis.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump said Democrats would only “build up my poll numbers” by launching another “witch hunt” against him. Let’s just hope they don’t start their second impeachment until the crisis is over.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.