Whitmer, Cuomo call for federal investigation into Trump’s pandemic response

‘We cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wears a face mask

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a joint statement this week calling for a Congressional oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s pandemic response.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 08: New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on September 08, 2020 in New York City. Cuomo, though easing restrictions on casinos and malls throughout the state, has declined to do so for indoor dining in restaurants in New York City despite pressure from business owners, citing struggles by the city to enforce the state's previous orders. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (2020 Getty Images)

The Democratic governors are accusing President Trump and his Republican administration of politicizing their response to the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, Whitmer and Cuomo say the Trump administration committed “politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Here’s the full joint statement from Whitmer and Cuomo:

"It is an inarguable fact that the United States has had the worst response to the COVID-19 virus of any nation in the world. Nearly 7 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200,000 Americans have been killed by it -- both more than any other country. The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of this tragedy is the direct result of President Trump and the federal government’s deceit, political self-dealing, and incompetence.

"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.

"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.

"Even more dangerous, the nation learned last week that political appointees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ‎-- over the strong objection of CDC scientists -- published the indefensible guidance that said people without symptoms did not need to get tested for COVID. Coupled with the agency’s abrupt reversal earlier this week on guidance related to the airborne transmission of the virus, it’s increasingly clear that the President and his advisers are trying to undermine the credibility of experts whose facts run counter to the administration’s political agenda.

“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. 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.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Michigan and New York were two of the hardest hit states by the coronavirus pandemic in the spring. Both states remain in a battle with the virus as officials work to contain outbreaks.

As of Thursday, Michigan reported 119,597 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 6,700 deaths related to the disease since March. The state of New York has reported more than 200,000 confirmed cases since March with more than 32,000 deaths.

Both governors took strict approaches to issuing pandemic orders and mandates. In Michigan, Whitmer shut down schools, restaurants and ordered a face mask mandate over the summer. In New York, Cuomo issued similar restaurant, school and public gathering mandates. He issued his state’s face mask mandate much earlier in April.

Both governors have faced criticism for their responses to the pandemic. Whitmer faced criticism for her handling of COVID-19 patients at long term care facilities. Cuomo has faced criticism for his overall response to the pandemic in the hardest hit state.

Both states, however, were able to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases that were rising at dramatic rates in March and April.

Meanwhile, the two governors have been criticizing the federal response to the pandemic for months now. Earlier this month, Whitmer called Trump “the biggest threat to the American people.”

“We learned from some revelations from Bob Woodward that the president admitted in a tape this past February that he knew that COVID-19 passes through the air,” Whitmer said. “He knew it was a lot more deadly than the flu, despite all of the representations that have been made in the last six months. He knew then, and he purposefully downplayed it, even said ‘I wanted to always play it down.’”

Whitmer said acting on the pandemic sooner could have saved thousands of lives across the country. She claims Trump’s “failure to act” has cost many people their lives and send the economy “into a tailspin.”

Read more: Michigan Gov. Whitmer: ‘The biggest threat to the American people is the American president’