House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spent the last three-plus years investigating President Trump, and each time, she’s come up empty.
But she’s going to give it another go, this time as Americans are locked down while the coronavirus sweeps across the nation.
Mrs. Pelosi announced last week that she is setting up a select House committee to “assure that the taxpayer dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent” — but the California Democrat also said she wants to “examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus.”
That means another open-ended investigation into — everything. And she’ll have subpoena power (of course).
Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who led the failed impeachment process, on Friday proposed the establishment of a bipartisan commission — also with subpoena power — to investigate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Schiff, another California Democrat, wants to set up a “9/11-style commission” of 10 lawmakers to review the administration’s actions and probe the government’s preparedness in advance of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After Pearl Harbor, September 11, and many momentous events in American history, independent, bipartisan commissions have been established to provide a complete accounting of what happened, what we did right and wrong, and what we can do to better protect the country in the future,” Mr. Schiff said in a statement Friday. “Though we are still in the early days of the coronavirus crisis, there is no doubt that such a comprehensive and authoritative review will be required.”
Imagine that. Imagine lawmakers calling federal health officials off the front lines and into the House chambers to answer a bunch of biased questions, including “What did Trump know and when did he know it?”
To Democrats, everything is a potential Watergate.
Mr. Trump blasted the new call for another endless probe as he sought to calm Americans’ fears during a White House briefing on the virus last week.
“We have seen Americans unite with incredible selflessness and compassion,” he said. “I want to remind everyone here in our nation’s capital, especially in Congress, that this is not the time for politics, endless partisan investigations. Here we go again. They’ve already done extraordinary damage to our country in recent years.
“It’s witch hunt after witch hunt after witch hunt,” Mr. Trump continued. “And in the end, it’s people doing the witch hunt who are losing — and they’ve been losing by a lot. And it’s not any time for witch hunts.”
Speaking of the virus, Mr. Trump said: “It’s time to get this enemy defeated. Conducting these partisan investigations during a pandemic is a really big waste of vital resources, time, attention. And we want to fight for American lives, not waste time and build up my poll numbers, because that’s all they’re doing, because everyone knows it’s ridiculous.”
The president noted that as the virus was sweeping the world, Democrats in Congress were fixated on impeaching him and ousting him from office.
“If you spent less time on your ridiculous impeachment hoax, which went haplessly on forever and ended up going nowhere (except increasing my poll numbers), and instead focused on helping the people of New York, then New York would not have been so completely unprepared for the ‘invisible enemy,’” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
For the record, while Democrats focused on impeachment, Mr. Trump was busy. On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency of international concern. The same day, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the first time confirmed person-to-person spread of the Wuhan virus and applauded WHO’s decision.
That same day, Mr. Trump created the White House Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate U.S. efforts regarding the new disease.
The next day, on Jan. 31, the president declared coronavirus a U.S. public health emergency and issued a travel ban between the United States and China.
Campaigning in Iowa that day, Joe Biden criticized Mr. Trump’s China travel ban, saying, “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia.” And on Feb. 24, Mrs. Pelosi encouraged people to visit San Francisco’s Chinatown for the Lunar New Year celebration, claiming it was “perfectly safe” to be there.
Mr. Schiff was also blithely unaware: His Twitter feed did not mention the virus at all until Feb. 24 and his House Office press releases didn’t mention it until March 15.
Still, Mrs. Pelosi blames Mr. Trump for the virus. “As the president fiddles, people are dying,” she said.
But if federal lawmakers want to find someone to blame, they should look closer to home. When the Trump administration held a briefing on Jan. 24 to inform senators about the coronavirus, it was “sparsely attended,” Politico reported, because it “was held on the same day as a deadline for senators to submit their impeachment questions.”
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.