People For the American Way

Falsehoods and Failures: Trump During COVID-19 (8/7 Update)

News and Analysis
Falsehoods and Failures: Trump During COVID-19 (8/7 Update)

It has been more than five months since Donald Trump first promised that the United States would soon reach zero COVID-19 cases. Since then, Trump’s refusal to accept the magnitude of this crisis or take decisive action continues to reveal his abject disregard for the safety and well-being of the American people.

  • New data revealed a grim new milestone for the U.S.: forty-two percent of all confirmed cases in the country have occurred just in the month of July. Last week alone, at least 30 states suffered higher numbers of deaths than the previous week. Yet Trump chose to spend Sunday, August 2, at his golf club in Potomac Falls, Virginia – his 282nd trip to a golf course since he took office.
  • On August 3, “Axios on HBO” released its latest episode, which featured reporter Jonathan Swan’s interview of Trump. Swan challenged Trump’s many lies, contradictions and other inaccurate claims. Trump dismissed the coronavirus death rate, saying “it is what it is,” and that “it’s under control as much as you can control it.” He also defended his administration’s botched coronavirus testing system, and repeatedly tried to discredit voting by mail, describing it as corrupt, but noting that “absentee voting is OK.” (There is no objective difference between these voting methods.)
  • This week, Trump continued to push for schools to reopen, saying in a Fox & Friends interview that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19. When his campaign social media accounts shared this clip, Facebook removed the post and Twitter banned the account until it removes the tweet due to its violation of Twitter policies against spreading misinformation about COVID-19.
  • Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said on August 2 that schools cannot safely reopen until the coronavirus, which she described as “extraordinarily widespread,” is under control. Trump then lashed out at Birx on Twitter the next day for contradicting his claims about “the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus.”
  • A report by Vanity Fair revealed that the White House chose not to create or implement a national COVID-19 plan earlier in the crisis because the infection seemed to be mostly impacting states run by Democratic governors, and allowing the coronavirus to run rampant in blue states was considered to be “an effective political strategy” during an election year.
  • Trump’s refusal to negotiate continues to stall the passage of the next vital coronavirus relief package. Senate Republicans acknowledged that his requirements and proposals have cost them at least a week of negotiating time. Despite the fact that Trump’s own actions are causing delays to aid that Americans desperately need, he threatened on August 5 to take action through executive orders, even though it’s unclear whether or not he’s able to do so from a legal perspective.

On August 4, Trump attended his first White House coronavirus task force meeting since April – and still he hasn’t altered his disregard for COVID-19’s toll. Despite the danger and devastation that millions of Americans are experiencing due to the pandemic and its economic impact, Trump continues to ignore public health experts and downplay the scope and severity of the crisis. His lies and refusal to act have caused ongoing and needless suffering.

The American people deserve and urgently need a leader who will protect our public health, our well-being, and our democracy – and we must hold Trump accountable for his repeated failures to do so.