On Friday afternoon, President Trump uttered what will likely be the defining words of his presidency: “I don’t take any responsibility at all.”
During a press conference this afternoon, a reporter challenged the president about the serious delays in coronavirus testing that have crippled the nation’s ability to respond to the rapidly expanding epidemic. Desperately struggling to bury the mismanagement and deliberate negligence that allowed the coronavirus crisis to spiral out of control in the first place, the president literally refused to take any responsibility and instead complained about how unfair it was that he had to deal with the crisis at all!
Asked if he takes responsibility for lag in testing, Pres. Trump says, "No, I don't take responsibility at all."
— ABC News (@ABC) March 13, 2020
Later in the press conference, a reporter asked him about why the Trump administration dismantled President Obama’s pandemic response team and never bothered to replace it. The leader of the free world dismissed it as a “nasty question.”
The president’s response to the coronavirus has been appalling from the start, which saw him deliberately slow-walk the testing of potential virus carriers because he was worried too many cases would affect his re-election. Then Trump administration decided to refuse to accept the test kits that the World Health Organization was shipping to countries around the world at the end of February and played a key role in enabling the spread of the virus. Instead, reports POLITICO, they decided to go ahead with an American-made test that inevitably was delayed by manufacturing issues, lab contamination, and logistical problems.
Now that it’s become clear that the virus is spreading throughout the nation at a terrifying pace, he’s going out of his way to appear like he’s doing everything he possibly can while downplaying the crisis at the same time — for instance, this afternoon, he told reporters this afternoon that there would be five million tests available within a month but added that “I doubt we’ll need that.”
If the virus continues to spread at the rate that it has in other countries, five million might not even be enough. The latest worst-case projections from the CDC, obtained by the New York Times, believe that “between 160 million and 214 million people in the United States could be infected over the course of the epidemic… as many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.”
While we remind you that these are worst-case scenario numbers, anything close to even the lowest end of that spectrum would still be a national disaster whose fault lies squarely with the President, who has done everything in his power to ensure we are as unprepared as we possibly could be to stop the spread.
For him to refuse to take any responsibility at all for the lives that will be lost is a watershed moment in his presidency — and it’s not even the first time. We saw him do this in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, as thousands of Puerto Ricans died in part thanks to, once again, the deliberate negligence of the Trump administration.
Unfortunately, too many Americans refuse to treat Puerto Ricans with the same importance that they do other continental Americans. But we all should have seen this coming — and hopefully, this will finally be a wake-up call to his millions of supporters. No matter how many Americans die, he will not take responsibility, and justice demands we do not allow him to neglect this nation for another four years.