As the worsening coronavirus pandemic raises questions of why President Donald Trump failed to act more quickly, some Republicans, like Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), have adopted a new talking point: that the president was distracted from public health issues because he had to defend himself in the impeachment proceedings.
On Monday, Norm Eisen, a former House counsel during the impeachment proceedings and White House ethics official under the Obama administration, laid out a simple fact shattering this narrative:
To those blaming impeachment for delay in US response to corona: Trump asked for just $2.5 billion to fight the vir… https://t.co/eDJgPRWZR5— Norm Eisen (@Norm Eisen) 1585595643.0
The simple reality is that the trial ended weeks before the president did anything meaningful about coronavirus, and he spent nearly a month dragging his feet and assuring the public that nothing bad was going to happen. The GOP-dominated acquittal vote took place on January 15. As late as February 10, Trump was claiming that warm weather would eliminate the virus, and on February 26 he announced that the virus was "just like the flu" and the number of cases was "going to be down to close to zero" within a few days.
Trump had ample time in the weeks after impeachment to invoke the Defense Production Act, issue advisories, and lay the groundwork for a pandemic response. The fact that he did not was his decision.