In some of his harshest criticism of the president to date, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Monday said Donald Trump’s inconsistent rhetoric on the COVID-19 pandemic has stoked confusion, as the coronavirus continues its spread among high-ranking White House and GOP officials.
“I think he let his guard down,” the Republican senator told the Houston Chronicle when asked about Trump’s repeated flouting of various public health guidelines. “And I think in his desire to try to demonstrate that we are somehow coming out of this and that the danger is not still with us — I think he got out over his skis and frankly, I think it’s a lesson to all of us that we need to exercise self-discipline.”
On Monday, he defended Trump’s policy responses such as shutting off travel from China, which he said “demonstrated the seriousness of the virus,” but went after Trump’s messaging.
“He tries to balance that with saying, ‘Well, you know, we got this.’ And clearly we don’t have this,” Cornyn said, according to the Chronicle. “I think the biggest mistake people make in public life is not telling the truth, particularly in something with as much public interest as here because you know the real story is going to come out.”
Sen. John Cornyn attended Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Capitol Hill last week. Two other senators on that committee have since tested positive for the coronavirus.
His comments came as the coronavirus tears through the West Wing and Capitol, where a mounting number of top Republicans, including Trump, his press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, his campaign manager Bill Stepien and Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) ― both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee ― have tested positive.
Cornyn, who also sits on that committee, may have been exposed to the virus when he attended hearings last week.
Many of the positive cases involve those who attended a Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s Supreme Court pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Maskless people did not socially distance at the event.
Trump has persistently ignored mask-wearing, social distancing and other public health guidelines throughout the pandemic, which has now killed more than 200,000 people in America. He’s mocked others for wearing masks; held packed campaign rallies for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of supporters; pushed to reopen schools and businesses even when his own metrics for safely doing so had not been met; and acted as though the disease would just miraculously disappear of its own accord, even after admitting on tape in March that it’s much more deadly than he was letting on.
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