That Congress would discuss the idea of establishing a commission to examine the handling of the Coronavirus outbreak should not strike anyone as unusual. Analyzing the steps taken, the actions not taken, and how the response could have been more efficient would be a worthy endeavor. When Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is the man behind legislation to establish the commission, though, the real motive becomes apparent: This is not going to be an objective examination of how the federal government handled the pandemic. It is going to be another investigation, with extreme prejudice, of the Trump administration.
Is this an unreasonable prediction? Consider that Schiff – along with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) – was the driving force behind congressional Democrats’ two previous inquisitions targeting President Trump: the Russian collusion investigation and the impeachment inquiries. Is it realistic to expect that the House Intelligence Committee chairman will resist the temptation to use a post-pandemic revue as a vehicle to pin upon the president sole responsibility for all shortcomings – both real and imagined – in America’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak? It is not. The California lawmaker simply will not be able to control himself.
“After Pearl Harbor and 9/11,” Schiff tweeted April 1, “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.”
Should Congress form a 9/11-style commission, as suggested by Schiff, it will be interesting to observe its makeup, which will indicate whether its inquiries and conclusions will be genuinely “nonpartisan.”
It’s Always About Elections
Worthy of note is the common theme at the heart of both the now-debunked Russian collusion theory and the carefully-concocted impeachment proceeding: election interference. The Democrats claimed the 2016 Trump campaign worked with Russian government officials to steal the election. That claim was found – by both the FBI and a special counsel investigation – to have no factual foundation.
The impeachment inquiry centered around the idea that Trump had sought to coerce the Ukrainian government into announcing an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Again, the Democrats insisted the president’s motivation was to ensure his re-election.
Writing in a certain, well-known Washington newspaper on March 31, David Ignatius, who interviewed Schiff, raises the specter of election-hijacking once again. “One explosive issue in any inquiry,” Ignatius suggests, “would be whether Trump discounted intelligence warnings because of concerns about the impact of the virus on his reelection campaign.”
So, there it is. The real purpose of a Coronavirus inquiry will not be to ensure the nation is better prepared to handle future epidemics. More likely, it will be to conclude that Trump put America at risk because he did not want the crisis to derail his chances of securing a second White House term.
It is probably fair to speculate that Democrats have been planning such a spectacle for at least the past week or two. Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper on March 29, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) dropped a hint that her party intended to capitalize on the urgent health crisis currently ravaging the U.S. and the world. The interview appeared to have been scripted beforehand to bring up the very subject of the president’s alleged negligence. “[President Trump’s] delaying of getting equipment to where it continued – his continued delay in getting equipment to where it’s needed is deadly,” Pelosi claimed. “Now the best thing to do would be to prevent more loss of life rather than open things up because we just don’t know.”
Tapper then perfectly set up the speaker with a question so loaded it would have dropped a fully-grown Grizzly: “Are you saying his downplaying ultimately cost American lives?”
“Yes I am,” Pelosi responded, before going on to lift the curtain on what her party intends to inflict upon the American people, once they begin to put their lives back together:
“I don’t know what the scientists said to [Trump]. When did this president know about this, and what did he know? What did he know, and when did he know it? That’s for an after-action review. But as the president fiddles, people are dying. We just have to take every precaution.”
Whether this next assault upon the Trump administration could begin before the upcoming general election is doubtful. As it is, the Coronavirus threat has thrown the campaign season into chaos as more states postpone their primaries, and the Democratic National Convention, initially slated for July, is now in doubt.
“I don’t know that you would get administration buy-in for something like that,” NBC News quotes a senior administration official as saying about a Coronavirus response inquiry. “Then, if the Democrats do one, it’s all one-sided.”
The president’s opponents, though, are already gearing up for this new blame-Trump extravaganza. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said in a recent statement: “There is no doubt that the administration has mishandled this entire crisis, and our committee will certainly be engaged in robust oversight to review what happened and how to avoid these mistakes in the future.”
Schiff and the other top Democrats are still smarting from the two previous failures to bring down this president. COVID-19, it appears, has presented them with another bite at the apple. Democrats will put the nation through any amount of pain, expense, and recrimination to destroy the man they view as a usurper. Distracting the public from the train-wreck that is the Biden presidential bid could be an extra incentive.
So blinded with rage are Trump’s political enemies that one obvious danger escapes them: This president has survived their previous attempts to sabotage him and has, perhaps, emerged more popular each time. To put Americans through more months of hearings and inquiries as they recover from the COVID-19 ordeal might be just too much. Rather than blocking Trump’s path to re-election, Democrats might end up greasing the skids, sending their nemesis back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on a wave of outrage and disgust at their hate-driven avarice.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.
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