Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are asking Congress to launch an investigation into whether President Trump politicized his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The question of, ‘What did they know and when did they know it?’ cannot be left to the history books to answer. Our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today,” wrote the two Democratic governors, who have sparred with the president over handling of the pandemic, in a press release Thursday.
“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. 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,” they wrote.
“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,” Cuomo and Whitmer continued.
As evidence, they claim that Trump has spurned advice from scientists and health experts and instead put the health and safety of Americans in the “hands of political appointees whose first priority was securing the reelection of their benefactor, with predictably tragic results.”
They also pointed to reports that claimed the White House blocked a plan by Health and Human Services to send five masks to each American household via the Postal Service.
“Imagine the lives that could have been saved if every household were provided masks at such a crucial time,” they asked.
“Even more dangerous,” they alleged, is that political appointees over the objection of scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidance that said asymptomatic people should not be tested for the coronavirus.
And then the CDC reverted to previous guidance and removed a warning that COVID-19 can be spread through airborne particles.
“As a country, we cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root. Logic dictates that COVID won’t be the last public health challenge we will face, and we can’t afford to again respond by playing politics, instead of listening to the science and facts,” they said in the statement.
Trump and Cuomo have traded barbs about each other’s handling of the coronavirus since the outbreak rocked New York hard in the spring.
Earlier this month, the president bashed the governor for acting too late to reopen restaurants in the city and blamed him for Empire State residents moving to Florida to escape the high tax rate.
“One of the WORST governors in the USA. Caused 11,000 deaths in nursing homes alone due to his bad moves and incompetence. At least he said I ‘did a phenomenal job’. But he didn’t!!!” Trump said on Twitter.
Cuomo also hit back at Trump for his proposal to cut off federal funds to “lawless” cities like New York that did not do enough to quell Black Lives Matter protests over racial injustice.
The governor said the president had “better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the street in New York. New Yorkers don’t want to have anything to do with him.”
Trump has called Whitmer the “failing Michigan governor” and urged that protesters – many of whom were armed – “liberate” Michigan when they descended on the state capitol in May to rally against extreme coronavirus measures.
Whitmer has called Trump’s response to the pandemic “reckless” and said “the biggest enemy of the state right now is the misinformation that’s coming out of the head of state. And the biggest threat to the American people is the American president right now.”
Spokespeople for the White House and the White House coronavirus task force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Additional reporting by Steven Nelson