USA

Impeachment was a dire distraction from coronavirus for Trump administration: Devine

It’s obvious the Democrats’ impeachment obsession was a damaging distraction for President Trump, as Mitch McConnell says. That was the whole point of it.

But what we now know is the corona­virus outbreak emerged right in the middle of the impeachment. The administration was distracted at a crucial time.

“I think it diverted the attention of the government, because everything every day was all about impeachment,″ the Senate majority leader said Tuesday.

The Democrats’ motive was to weaken the president before the election and hamper his ability to implement his agenda. It wasn’t about principle or the national interest. It was a trivial game to enhance their electoral prospects and appease their Trump-hating base.

Even Democrats like Andrew Cuomo said as much. Back in September, the New York governor blamed “leftist” Democrats and described the inquiry as a “governmental shutdown.”

“It’s a long and unproductive road. Where does it go ultimately? Nowhere . . . The problem with that is it means nothing else is really going to get done of substance between now and then, and we have so many real issues to deal with.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Less than eight weeks later, on Nov. 17, a 55-year-old man became the first confirmed case in China of the novel coronavirus, according to the South China Morning Post.

Public impeachment hearings had begun three days earlier and dominated the media.

The timeline is instructive.

On Dec. 1, the next confirmed patient in China fell ill.

On Dec. 13, the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment.

Three days later, a 65-year-old man was admitted to hospital in Wuhan with a lung infection.

On Dec. 18, Democrats in the House of Representatives impeached Trump.

On Dec. 29, Dr. Ai Fen, the head of emergency at Wuhan Central Hospital, alerted her superiors to seven cases of unexplained pneumonia. She was reprimanded and silenced, according to “60 Minutes Australia.”

On Jan. 1, eight Chinese doctors who had posted information about the illness on social media were detained, and laboratories were ordered to destroy virus samples.

On Jan. 3, Li Wenliang, a Wuhan ophthalmologist, was forced to sign an official confession that he had spread false “rumors” about the virus. He would later die of the illness.

China’s coverup was in full swing.

On Jan. 6, John Bolton announced he was prepared to testify at Trump’s impeachment trial, and the media went into overdrive.

The next day, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel warning about “pneumonia of an unknown etiology” in Wuhan.

On Jan. 14, the World Health Organization, doing China’s bidding, tweeted that Chinese authorities “have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.”

On Jan. 15, after a one-month delay, Nancy Pelosi used gold pens to sign the impeachment articles and led a ceremonial procession to deliver them to the Senate.

The next day, the impeachment trial — presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts — began.

On Jan. 20, the first US coronavirus case was reported, in Washington state.

On Jan. 22, opening arguments against Trump began in the Senate.

On Jan. 25, the State Department prepared to evacuate US citizens from Wuhan.

The next day, Bolton accused Trump of saying he would withhold military aid from Ukraine unless it investigated Joe Biden. Less prominent were five cases of coronavirus in the United States.

On Jan. 30, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the Chinese government for “extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak. [It] is very impressive . . . China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response.”

It sure was.

On Jan. 31, Trump closed the US border to China and quarantined US citizens returning from Hubei province for 14 days, the first time such measures had been taken since 1969.

Dr. Anthony Fauci would later say the travel ban was crucial in slowing the spread of the virus.

But at the time, it was slammed by WHO and China as racist. Biden called Trump a “xenophobe.”

If anything, as a China hawk who believes in border security, Trump was ahead of the Democrats and media who now blame him for the outbreak.

Asked Tuesday if impeachment had distracted him, the president mused aloud, “I certainly devoted a little time to think about it, right.

“[But] I don’t think I would have done any better had I not been impeached . . . I don’t think I would have acted any faster.”

The president doesn’t want to admit it, but there had to be a price for the time and energy the administration and Congress wasted fighting over impeachment. The media was consumed by it and little attention was paid to the catastrophe unfolding in Wuhan.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx this week pointed out that if medical experts were slow to comprehend the threat, it was because “we were missing a significant amount of the data” from China.

We can all play the partisan blame game but that only lets the real culprit off the hook; it is the Chinese Communist Party, whose deceptions cost at least two crucial months and unleashed a pandemic.

Soon, there will be a reckoning.

Stefanik: China must pay a price

Working from home in upstate New York, Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik says her constituents tell her they want China to pay for “the significant economic distress to our communities and small businesses” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

When the crisis is over, she says Americans should sue China to recoup their losses.

“There needs to be an international investigation into China with financial accountability. The Chinese Communist Party purposefully lied to the Chinese people . . . and the world about this virus, and thousands of lives were lost as well as trillions of economic debt.

“We need to work with our allies [to] ensure there are consequences for the global wreckage caused by the Chinese government.”

As the representative for Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division, the most deployed unit in the US Army since 9/11, she says China’s attempt to blame the US Army as the source of the virus is “inexcusable, and there must be consequences.”

To that end, she has introduced a resolution with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to condemn the Chinese Communist Party for covering up the pandemic and called for an international investigation.

It’s a good start.

Insidious tracking of safe-distancing

Ominously, the federal government reportedly is in talks with Big Tech to use location data on our smartphones to track whether we are self-isolating and maintaining safe distances to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

You only have to read the latest report of the Justice Department inspector general into the abuse of FISA-court ap­plications to spy on Amer­i­cans to understand that surveillance measures instituted to protect us after 9/11 have morphed into weapons of state control.

The road to tyranny is paved with good intentions.

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