Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in an interview Tuesday that the Senate impeachment trial “diverted the attention of the government” from what was happening in China during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.
His comments came after Democrats increased their criticism of President Trump and his response to the outbreak. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drew particular criticism for recently saying that “as the president fiddles, people are dying.”
The Senate Majority Leader told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday that Sen. Tom Cotton, R- Ark., was the first lawmaker to sound the alarm on what was happening in Wuhan, China. McConnell recalled their conversation and said Cotton expressed his distrust of Beijing and thought the virus was worse than was being portrayed.
“It came up while we were tied down on the impeachment trial,” McConnell said. “And I think it diverted the attention of the government because everything every day was all about impeachment. But Tom figured this out early, and he was absolutely right.”
McConnell is not the first person to suggest that the impeachment trial played a role in the virus’ spread to the U.S.
Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News anchor, recently told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” that Congress was too busy fighting over Trump’s impeachment to realize the looming threat in China.
“That impeachment thing was the biggest bunch of garbage I have ever seen in my life,” O’Reilly said. “And it will go down in history as contributing to this horrible pandemic here.”
O’Reilly said he had little interest in assigning blame to China over the outbreak, but said you have to be ignorant not to see the dramatic effect the impeachment trial had on our national awareness.
He said Congress’ early lack of attention is “more to blame than some idiot eating a bat.”
Health officials believe that the virus started at a “wet shop” in Wuhan, China, that sold exotic animals as a delicacy.
Despite the criticism, Democrats and the media appear more than willing to continue to slam the president. Pelosi told CNN this weekend that “the president his denial at the beginning, was deadly.”
“His delaying of getting equipment to where — it continues — his delay in getting equipment to where it’s needed is deadly. And now I think the best thing would be to do is to prevent more loss of life, rather than open things up,” she said, according to Politico.
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Henry Olsen, a columnist at the Washington Post, wrote an op-ed titled, ‘Let’s be honest. Impeachment hurt Trump’s response to coronavirus.” He wrote that the president’s critics “conveniently overlook” the impeachment theory.
“Despite the near certainty that Republicans would not vote to convict the president, Democrats and most of the major media were almost entirely focused on impeachment. As a result, the White House was focused on addressing this threat to its survival, not on preparing for a threat from China that might never even materialize,” he wrote.