A House hearing on Friday that was meant to address the U.S. strategy in Iran blew up into a heated confrontation over the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus.
The purpose of Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoCheney, House Republicans express ‘serious concerns’ with US-Taliban dealGOP, Democrats hash out 2020 strategy at dueling retreatsOvernight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctionsMORE’s appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee was to discuss the early January drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and escalated tensions with the country. But the hearing quickly turned into a debate over the deadly virus, which has spread globally.
In one of the more heated moments, Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuEthics complaint filed against Nunes asks how he’s paying for lawsuitsDemocrats to plow ahead with Trump probes post-acquittalTrump Jr. dismisses ‘likelihood’ of Pelosi praying for Trump with Satan comparisonMORE (D-Calif.) confronted Pompeo, asking him if he believes “the coronavirus is a hoax.” He pointed to White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyWhite House preparing to ask Congress for funds to combat coronavirus: report Tucker Carlson calls out Mick Mulvaney on immigration remarks: ‘Dishonest and stupid’ Trump furious after officials allowed Americans with coronavirus to fly home with other passengers: reportMORE’s comments earlier in the day claiming news media were ignoring the coronavirus until now because outlets were too focused on President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South CarolinaCongress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirusSanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE’s impeachment before that, which he called a “hoax.”
“Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC] that the coronavirus was the hoax of the day,” Lieu said. “Do you agree with Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mulvaney that the coronavirus is the hoax of the day?”
“The State Department is doing everything it can to protect American citizens around the world,” Pompeo began replying before Lieu interrupted.
“Do you believe coronavirus is a hoax?” Lieu said.
“I’m not going to comment on what others are saying,” Pompeo replied. “I’m just telling you what the secretary of State is doing.”
“It’s not even a gotcha question,” Lieu continued. “Do you believe the coronavirus is a hoax?”
“It is a gotcha moment,” Pompeo said. “It’s not useful.”
Asked again, Pompeo said: “We’re taking it seriously.”
#WATCH: Rep. Ted Lieu: “It’s not even a gotcha question. Do you believe the corona virus is a hoax?”
Sec of State Mike Pompeo: “It is a gotcha moment. It’s not useful.”pic.twitter.com/3Fk9e7sqS3
Jennifer Franco (@jennfranconews) February 28, 2020
Lieu went on to call it “shameful” that Pompeo wouldn’t say coronavirus is not a hoax, while scolding Pompeo for attending CPAC later in the day.
After the hearing, he shared the exchange on Twitter, accusing Pompeo of “being too scared to even say [the coronavirus] is not a hoax.”
The problem with @SecPompeo being too scared to even say #coronavirusus is not a hoax is not just that he lacks a spine, it also compounds the misinformation coming from the @realDonaldTrump Administration on an issue of life and death.#FridayThoughtshttps://t.co/SKVIm74HX5
Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 28, 2020
Democrats have been hammering the Trump administration in recent days over its plans to address the rapidly spreading coronavirus, which the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled on Friday as being a high-level threat.
China has reported nearly 79,000 total cases of the virus to WHO, including 2,791 deaths. Outside China, the WHO said there are now 4,351 cases in 49 countries, and 67 deaths.
Trump announced this week that Vice President Pence would lead efforts to address the coronavirus, and has hit back against Democrats’ criticism, saying he has prevented the spread by ending certain flights.
The Do Nothing Democrats were busy wasting time on the Immigration Hoax, & anything else they could do to make the Republican Party look bad, while I was busy calling early BORDER & FLIGHT closings, putting us way ahead in our battle with Coronavirus. Dems called it VERY wrong!
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2020
So, the Coronavirus, which started in China and spread to various countries throughout the world, but very slowly in the U.S. because President Trump closed our border, and ended flights, VERY EARLY, is now being blamed, by the Do Nothing Democrats, to be the fault of Trump.
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2020
Friday’s hearing almost immediately turned to the coronavirus, when Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineTrump’s intel moves spark Democratic furyTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testifyHillicon Valley: US hits Huawei with new charges | Judge orders Pentagon to halt ‘war cloud’ work amid Amazon challenge | IRS removes guidance on Fortnite game currencyMORE (D-R.I.) used the first question of the hearing to ask about it.
Pompeo responded, Just so you know, we agreed that I would come here to talk about Iran. The first question today is not about Iran.