- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2020

President Trump and his allies are increasingly blaming Democrats’ impeachment drive for distracting Washington’s attention from the coronavirus outbreak last winter.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Tuesday that impeachment was a needless preoccupation while the pandemic was unfolding.

“It came up while we were tied down on the impeachment trial,” Mr. McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “And I think it diverted the attention of the government, because everything every day was all about impeachment.”

He said the Senate nevertheless “pivoted from the most partisan thing you could possibly be involved in, the impeachment of a president, to a unanimous vote on a $2 trillion package all within a couple of months.” Mr. McConnell credited Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, for raising the alarm with the administration and in Congress.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 entering the U.S. was a person who came from Wuhan, China, on Jan. 15 — the same day Mr. Trump was signing a trade deal with Chinese officials at the White House.

The president banned most travel from China on Jan. 31, the same day that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency.

On Monday, the president said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s obsession with his impeachment distracted her from the coronavirus outbreak.

“Don’t forget, she was playing the impeachment game, her game where she ended up looking like a fool,” Mr. Trump said on “Fox & Friends.” “All she did was focus on impeachment. She didn’t focus on anything having to do with pandemics, she focused on impeachment and she lost. And she looked like a fool.”

His comments were in reaction to Mrs. Pelosi blaming him for COVID-19 deaths due to inaction.

“As the president fiddles, people are dying,” she said Sunday.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, also blamed Mrs. Pelosi for focusing attention on Mr. Trump’s impeachment in December and January, when the coronavirus was spreading rapidly in China. He reminded the Senate that Mrs. Pelosi delayed sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate for four weeks.

“As we were dealing with this impeachment garbage, China was on fire,” Mr. Graham said last week on the Senate floor. “You’ll hear more about that later in the year.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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