President Trump leads coronavirus task force briefing from the White House.
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President Trump, speaking at the White House coronavirus briefing on Thursday, unloaded on Democrats who have created a new House committee with subpoena authority to investigate the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have seen Americans unite with incredible selflessness and compassion,” Trump began. “I want to remind everyone here in our nation’s capital, especially in Congress, that this is not the time for politics, endless partisan investigations. Here we go again. They’ve already done extraordinary damage to our country in recent years.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday she’s creating a new House committee to oversee the coronavirus response.
“It’s witch hunt after witch hunt after witch hunt,” Trump continued. “And in the end it’s people doing the witch hunt who are losing — and they’ve been losing by a lot. And it’s not any time for witch hunts.”
Speaking of the virus, Trump said: “It’s time to get this enemy defeated. Conducting these partisan investigations during a pandemic is a really big waste of vital resources, time, attention. And we want to fight for American lives, not waste time and build up my poll numbers, because that’s all they’re doing, because everyone knows it’s ridiculous.”
On Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., compared the current pandemic to Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and called for a comprehensive probe.
“After Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we looked at what went wrong to learn from our mistakes. Once we’ve recovered, we need a nonpartisan commission to review our response and how we can better prepare for the next pandemic. I’m working on a bill to do that.”
Unlike the 9/11-style after-action committee that Schiff and others have proposed, Pelosi said the committee she formed Thursday is designed to address the “here and now” — specifically concerning the allocation of the historic amount of federal funds directed to economic recovery.
Pelosi compared the new committee to the Senate bipartisan committee chaired by then-Sen. Harry Truman in 1941 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in defense spending in the early days of World War II.
“With over $2 trillion in emergency relief, we need to ensure those dollars are spent carefully and effectively,” Pelosi said of the massive stimulus bill Congress already passed to address the coronavirus pandemic.
Democrats’ allegation that the White House dawdled in the face of crisis came as Republicans pointed out that in January, when the Trump administration blocked travel from China and formed a coronavirus task force, Democrats were leading his impeachment.
U.S. intelligence reports in January and February warned of a likely pandemic, The Washington Post reported recently.
According to the Post: “Intelligence agencies ‘have been warning on this since January,’ said a U.S. official who had access to intelligence reporting that was disseminated to members of Congress and their staffs as well as to officials in the Trump administration, and who, along with others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive information.”
Despite that apparent warning, Schiff’s intelligence panel was focused elsewhere. Schiff’s Twitter feed did not mention the virus at all until Feb. 24, 2020, and Schiff’s House Office press releases didn’t mention it until March 15, 2020.
Instead, Schiff was almost exclusively focused on hiring staff to handle impeachment.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.