President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: ‘No. no’ Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: ‘Stop congratulating yourself! You’re a failure’ Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE said Tuesday that he would not have acted differently or more quickly in addressing 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. “I don’t think I would have acted any differently, or I don’t think I would have acted any faster.”
Trump was asked whether impeachment diverted his or his team’s attention from the coronavirus, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Trump, Biden spar over coronavirus response Senator Tom Coburn’s government oversight legacy Schumer praises choice of Defense inspector general to oversee corporate lending fund MORE (R-Ky.) earlier Tuesday blamed Democrats for distracting the federal government from the outbreak because of the push to impeach the president.
Trump first answered that impeachment “probably” took up some of his attention but later insisted that he wouldn’t have acted differently in response to the coronavirus.
“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.”
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.
Trump was impeached by the House in a near party-line vote at the end of December. The GOP-controlled Senate voted to acquit Trump on the impeachment charges on Feb. 5.
The coronavirus is widely believed to have originated in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, at the end of last year, and the first travel-related case of COVID-19 was reported in Washington state on Jan. 21.
The Trump administration has been criticized for a slow response to implementing testing for the virus early on. Trump also repeatedly downplayed the threat from the coronavirus but has adopted an increasingly somber tone when discussing the pandemic in recent weeks, on Tuesday urging Americans to steel for a “very tough” period.