Trump’s Enablers Blame China to Shield Him From Accountability

It is a very dangerous game they’re playing.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton continues to vow revenge against China for the coronavirus, telling Steve Doocey that, “China unleashed this plague on the world, and there will be a reckoning when we’re on the backside of it.”

Meanwhile, Ralph Drollinger—the man who leads a Bible study for members of Trump’s cabinet—has written that “a biblically astute evaluation of the situation strongly suggests that America and other countries of the world are reaping what China has sown due to their leaders’ recklessness and lack of candor and transparency.”

Drollinger goes to great lengths to suggest that the coronavirus is not a sign of Gods’ “abandonment wrath,” but is, instead, God’s “sowing and reaping wrath.” I’ll bet you didn’t realize that the God of Christian nationalists actually has five different kinds of wrath. He sure seems like a vengeful guy, doesn’t he? In case you don’t get this particular distinction, if God was abandoning the U.S., that wouldn’t reflect well on Donald Trump. Instead, this is all China’s fault.

On Wednesday, Der Spiegel reported that members of the G7 haven’t been able to agree on a joint statement because of Pompeo’s insistence that it refers to coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus.” During a press conference, Pompeo didn’t deny the report. 

“We’ve wanted to work with the Chinese Communist Party throughout this crisis — this crisis that began in Wuhan, China,” Pompeo said. “We tried, you’ll remember, from the opening days to get our scientists, our experts on the ground there so that we could begin to assist in the global response to what began there in China, but we weren’t able to do that. The Chinese Communist Party wouldn’t permit that to happen.”

“The Chinese Communist Party poses a substantial threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus outbreak clearly has demonstrated,” Pompeo added.

When Pompeo talks about trying to get our scientists and experts on the ground in China to assist in the global response, here is what he doesn’t want you to know.

Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters has learned.

The American disease expert, a medical epidemiologist embedded in China’s disease control agency, left her post in July, according to four sources with knowledge of the issue. The first cases of the new coronavirus may have emerged as early as November, and as cases exploded, the Trump administration in February chastised China for censoring information about the outbreak and keeping U.S. experts from entering the country to help…

…the American expert, Dr. Linda Quick, was a trainer of Chinese field epidemiologists who were deployed to the epicenter of outbreaks to help track, investigate and contain diseases.

While the Trump administration’s elimination of the Pandemic Response Team in the White House was a result of budget cuts, this position was pulled due to the president’s trade war with China. In other words, one failed policy mushroomed into the next.

None of this is to suggest that China handled the outbreak of this pandemic well. But nothing they did wrong compares with the abject failure of the Trump administration on every front. The need to find a villain to blame is nothing more than a distraction to shield them from accountability.

With implications for foreign policy, as well as reprisals against Asian Americans in this country, it is a very dangerous game they’re playing.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.