Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer, Cuomo want Congress to investigate Trump admin ‘politicizing’ its COVID-19 response

By: - September 24, 2020 10:31 am

President Donald J. Trump waves as he prepares to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House Wednesday, July 24, 2019, to begin his trip to West Virginia. | Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian via Flickr Public Domain

After months of governors calling out President Trump and his administration for impeding their ability to get personal protection equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of media investigations finding disorganization, negligence and political concerns dominating the administration’s response, two Democratic governors are calling for a congressional investigation.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday said they want an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s “politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The U.S. Senate is run by the GOP and the House is controlled by Democrats.

Cuomo and Whitmer were among the Democratic governors the Department of Justice targeted last month for nursing home data.

“It is an inarguable fact that the United States has had the worst response to the COVID-19 virus of any nation in the world,” Cuomo and Whitmer said. “Nearly 7 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200,000 Americans have been killed by it — both more than any other country. The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of this tragedy is the direct result of President Trump and the federal government’s deceit, political self-dealing and incompetence.”

The governors said Trump didn’t turn to public health experts but “instead put the health and security of the American people in the hands of political appointees whose first priority was securing the reelection of their benefactor, with predictably tragic results.”

Cuomo and Whitmer cited Washington Post reporting that the White House blocked a Department of Health and Human Services plan for the U.S. Postal Service to ship five free masks to every household in the country early on in the pandemic in April, calling it “heartbreaking.”

“Imagine the lives that could have been saved if every household were provided masks at such a crucial time,” they said. “Even more dangerous, the nation learned last week that political appointees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ‎— over the strong objection of [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] scientists — published the indefensible guidance that said people without symptoms did not need to get tested for COVID. Coupled with the agency’s abrupt reversal earlier this week on guidance related to the airborne transmission of the virus, it’s increasingly clear that the president and his advisers are trying to undermine the credibility of experts whose facts run counter to the administration’s political agenda.”

They said that a congressional investigation is warranted, arguing  “our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today.”

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.