President Donald Trump railed against upcoming congressional oversight his administration will face after Democratic leaders announced the creation of a new select committee that will oversee how the $2.2 trillion economic coronavirus aid package will be divvied out.
On Thursday, the president used the White House press briefing on the coronavirus to position the oversight as a waste of time during a crisis. Trump echoed the same language he used in the past when referring to the impeachment process, calling it a “witch hunt.”
Reading from prepared statements, Trump said, “It’s a witch hunt after witch hunt after witch hunt. And in the end, the people doing the witch hunt have been losing, and they have been losing by a lot. And it is not any time for witch hunts. It’s time to get this [the coronavirus] enemy defeated.”
— PoliticsVideo23 (@politicsvideo23) April 3, 2020
Trump continued, “Conducting these partisan investigations in the middle of a pandemic is a really big waste of vital resources, time, attention, and we want to fight for American lives.”
Conversely, while Trump takes time out of a coronavirus briefing to focus on “partisan investigations” that have not even begun because “vital resources, time, attention” should be spent by public officials in the “fight for American lives,” the president said nothing about the Republican-led Senate committee pressing forward with its investigation into former vice president Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
According to Politico, a verbal altercation broke out between Democratic and Republican senators during a recent classified briefing because Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security Committee were insisting on continuing the investigation.
With senators on both sides of the aisle dealing with logistical challenges and most putting aside nonessential work to focus on the coronavirus crisis, a spokesman for committee chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) told Politico, “While the chairman is primarily focused on the once-in-a-generation crisis we’re experiencing, our oversight staff is continuing to push ahead with their work. Nothing has changed in our long-term plans for our investigations.”
It’s safe to say that even in the midst of a crisis, Trump does not want the Biden investigation to be put on hold. The president obviously sees staining Biden’s reputation as a way of increasing his chances of being reelected. And even if Hunter Biden sitting on the Burisma board was less than ethical, we have not seen any evidence that it was illegal, and this should hardly be a priority while our nation copes with a crisis. But no matter how many times the president and his surrogates contradict themselves or hold others to completely different standards than they espouse, it is still rather remarkable to witness.
During Thursday’s briefing, the president said, “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 — have already done extraordinary damage to our country in recent years. You see what happens.”