New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitemer on Thursday called on Congress to launch an oversight investigation of President Donald Trump's handling of the pandemic and whether he sought to politicize the crisis.
The governors, both Democrats, pointed to varying guidances at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that could have been influenced by political appointees during the outbreak.
"Rather than turning to the advice and direction of public health experts and career public servants, President Trump instead put the health and security of the American people in the hands of political appointees whose first priority was securing the reelection of their benefactor, with predictably tragic results," Cuomo and Whitmer said in a joint statement. "Last week's revelation that the White House blocked a Department of Health and Human Services plan to utilize the U.S. Postal Service to ship five life-saving masks to every household in the country, free of charge, in April was heartbreaking. Imagine the lives that could have been saved if every household were provided masks at such a crucial time."
And the governors pointed to the revelations in journalist Bob Woodward's new book in which Trump acknowledged he sought to play down the threat the virus posed. Trump has said he did so in order to prevent people from panicking.
"As a country, we cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root. Logic dictates that COVID won't be the last public health challenge we will face, and we can't afford to again respond by playing politics, instead of listening to the science and facts," they said. "Congress must immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration's response to this pandemic, including the actions at HHS and the USPS the public learned about over the past week. Especially in light of Bob Woodward's reporting, the question of, 'What did they know and when did they know it?' cannot be left to the history books to answer. Our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today."
Cuomo and Whitmer both have traded increasingly barbed criticism of the president, who has also knocked their response during the spread of the virus.
Cuomo on Thursday at a news conference said the Trump administration is also trying to politicize the approval of a vaccine for COVID-19 ahead of Election Day. That, in turn, could lead to Americans not trusting whether the vaccine is safe.
"Frankly, I'm not going to trust the federal government's opinion and I'm not going to recommend to New Yorkers the vaccine," he said.
New York will have its own review of the vaccine, Cuomo said.