President Trump said Tuesday that he would not “have acted differently” or “have acted any faster” in responding to the growing threat posed by the coronavirus if he weren’t impeached by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
“I don’t think I would have done any better if I had not been impeached,” Trump told reporters in the White House briefing room Tuesday evening as the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. neared 4,000. “I don’t think I would have acted any differently, or I don’t think I would have acted any faster.”
A White House reporter had asked Trump whether impeachment diverted his or his team’s attention from the coronavirus hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blamed Democrats for distracting the federal government from the outbreak because of the push to impeach the president.
“I think I handled it pretty well, but I guess it probably did. I mean, I got impeached. I think you know I certainly devoted a little time to thinking about it, right?” Trump said, referring to his impeachment as a “hoax” perpetrated by House Democrats.
“Did it divert my attention? I think I’m getting A-pluses for the way I handled myself during a phony impeachment,” Trump continued. “But certainly I guess I thought of it.”
President Trump: "I think I'm getting A-pluses for the way I handled myself during a phony impeachment." pic.twitter.com/8drEP6q8WG
— The Hill (@thehill) April 1, 2020
McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt earlier Tuesday that the coronavirus broke out during the time the Senate was presiding over Trump’s impeachment trial, which he said diverted the government’s attention from addressing the virus.
“It came up while we were tied down in the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government because everything every day was all about impeachment,” McConnell said.
When the first report of COVID-19 community transmission emerged in late February, Trump continued to dismiss the risk the virus posed to the U.S.
“It’s going to disappear,” he said. “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
The Washington Post notes that “despite McConnell’s claim that impeachment distracted Trump from addressing the coronavirus, the president did find enough time in January and February to hold a host of ‘Keep America Great’ campaign rallies and fundraisers across the country.”
Trump also found time to take multiple trips to his golf resorts, including a trip to his West Palm Beach club in Florida on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, reports Slate.
Pitcher Patrick Corbin posted a series of photos on his Instagram of his golf outing with the president on March 8. “So this happened today,” he wrote. “Got to golf with the President!”
According to Slate: “It also wasn’t the first time Trump went to the golf club over the weekend. On Saturday, he spent several hours at his West Palm Beach club. On Saturday night he told a reporter he wasn’t ‘concerned at all’ that the virus appeared to be getting closer to the White House. The president then went to a birthday party for former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is dating Donald Trump Jr., at Mar-a-Lago. Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the government’s response to the coronavirus, was also in attendance.”
By Monday, March 9, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout the United States had increased 13% to 607, from 537 Sunday, while one more death brought the country’s total to 22.