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Mitch McConnell draws outrage for ‘ridiculous’ excuse that Trump impeachment prevented action on COVID-19 crisis

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Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday offered a new—and, according to critics, “ridiculous” and baseless—excuse for the failure of the White House and the federal government more broadly to take early action against the coronavirus outbreak: The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump got in the way.

“While Trump’s impeachment and trial were ongoing, Trump found time for his priorities—holding campaign rallies and playing golf.”
—Judd Legum

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In an appearance on NBC News contributor Hugh Hewitt’s talk show, McConnell said the coronavirus outbreak “came up while we were, you know, tied down in the impeachment trial.”

“And I think it diverted the attention of the government, because everything, every day, was all about impeachment,” McConnell claimed.

But as Inae Oh and Dan Friedman of Mother Jones wrote Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican’s argument “ignores reality on multiple counts.”

First, there’s the fact that senior administration officials, according to the Washington Post, spent weeks in January warning Trump about the virus’ potential for disaster in the United States. “Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were—they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” one official told the Post. “The system was blinking red.”

While Trump ignored those national security warnings, he played a lot of golf, hitting the links at least five times from mid-January through early March. Did impeachment cause that?

McConnell’s attempt to blame the Trump impeachment trial—which ended in acquittal on Feb. 5—for Senate inaction also doesn’t fit the facts, Oh and Friedman noted.

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“The trial didn’t stop the Senate’s health committee from receiving a briefing about the virus from U.S. public health officials on January 24,” they wrote. “If impeachment really had prevented McConnell from taking action on coronavirus, one would have expected him to deal with the issue immediately after the trial concluded on February 5. He did not. The first thing senators did after acquitting Trump was take a five-day weekend. Upon their return, the Senate did not turn to pandemic preparation measures.”

Asked about McConnell’s claim during a press briefing Tuesday evening, Trump said the impeachment trial “probably did” hinder his response to the coronavirus outbreak, which has been widely condemned as slow and inadequate.

But Trump went on to say that he doesn’t think he “would have acted any faster” had he not been impeached by the House of Representatives.

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Addressing McConnell’s comments, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted Tuesday night that the Kentucky Republican “may have been distracted by impeachment from acting to fight coronavirus, but not everyone was.”

“I called for President Trump to declare a public health emergency to fight coronavirus on January 26!” Schumer said.

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In his “Popular Information” newsletter Wednesday morning, Judd Legum wrote that “if the federal government failed to respond to an imminent pandemic because it was too concerned about the political fate of Trump, it would be an outrage. But the reality is even worse.”

“Years before Trump was impeached, he decimated the government’s capacity to respond to a pandemic,” Legum noted. “Moreover, while Trump’s impeachment and trial were ongoing, Trump found time for his priorities—holding campaign rallies and playing golf. And after Trump was acquitted by the Senate on February 5, Trump continued to downplay the threat of the coronavirus and for many weeks.”


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2020 Election

Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham locked in dead heat with Democratic challenger in red South Carolina

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is locked in a dead heat in his bid to win re-election, a new online poll finds.

Graham, who has represented South Carolina in Congress since 1995 and held his Senate seat since 2003, has in recent months faced mounting pressure from Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. A new Civiqs poll released this week finds the two rivals tied at 42%.

A deeper dive into the poll reveals more possibly unnerving developments for Graham. Fifty-six percent of South Carolina voters have an unfavorable view of the senator, while only 35% have a positive view of him.

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WATCH: Minneapolis police station burns after protesters reportedly seize the building

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On Thursday night, the Minneapolis Police Department's third precinct was destroyed.

Here are some of the images from the scene.

https://twitter.com/carlosgphoto/status/1266217996395204608

https://twitter.com/seth_kaplan/status/1266214898171772930

https://twitter.com/nickstreiff/status/1266208914808492033

https://twitter.com/echalouxkstp/status/1266215697002254337

https://twitter.com/carlosgphoto/status/1266220171628290049

https://twitter.com/nickwoltman/status/1266207154987556866

https://twitter.com/WCCO/status/1266211278030344192

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WATCH: Don Lemon blasts Trump — and explains why nobody wants to hear from him on George Floyd’s murder

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CNN anchor Don Lemon slammed U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald for invoking President Donald Trump on Thursday.

“I know she has a tough job, but guess what, as long as we are being honest right now, nobody wants to hear from the White House or the attorney general right now,” Lemon said. “No one wants to hear from the man who wanted the death penalty to come back for the Central Park Five.”

“No one wants to hear from the man who says that the former president was not born in this country. No one wants to hear from the man who said there are ‘very fine people on both sides.’ Do you understand what I am saying?” he asked.

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