White House moves to shield Trump from oversight of his coronavirus response


Claims task force members too busy to appear before the House – but not so busy if the Senate calls them

James Hohman of The Washington Post wrote today in his “Daily 202” column, “The White House revealed on Monday that members of its coronavirus task force – and their deputies – are barred from testifying before Congress unless they get special permission from chief of staff Mark Meadows. The reason being given for blocking public health officials is that they’re busy trying to get control of a contagion that has now killed at least 68,172 and infected 1,175,000 Americans.”

Ok, I kind of get it. The important folks on the coronavirus task force, in fact, the only two important folks on task force, Drs. Fauci and Birx, are incredibly busy. But not so busy that they couldn’t spend two-three hours every day, seven days a week, as props for Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Campaign rallies.

This barring of testifying before Congress was not limited to task force members, however. In a memo to congressional staff directors, the “restriction on testimony also applies to the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and State.” And, to add insult to injury it also “decrees that committees are limited to no more than four virus-related hearings this month.”

Let me tell you folks, if you can come up with better examples of the abuse of separation of powers and the disregard for Congressional oversight, I’m all ears.

Last week, even before the policy was formalized, the White House blocked Tony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases official, from testifying before a House committee, which is controlled by Democrats. But Fauci received permission from Meadows to testify next week before the Senate’s health committee, which is controlled by Republicans.

Wait, what? Fauci was forbidden to testify before a Democratic-controlled House committee, but was given permission to appear before a Republican-controlled Senate committee?

Do these people realize that we’re here, and can read, see and listen to everything their doing and saying? Obviously, they do. And just as obviously, it makes no difference to them.

Hohman continues, “Trump hinted at a more partisan motivation than the memo let on as he boarded Marine One on Tuesday morning, telling reporters that Fauci is not being allowed to testify before the House because its members are ‘Trump haters.’ During his Fox News interview on Sunday night, the president grumbled that House Democrats are trying to embarrass him. ‘When you see all these committees, seven or eight committees, we haven’t even started, and they have all these committees looking for trouble, just looking for trouble,’ Trump said at the Lincoln Memorial. ‘Every enemy I have is put on a Democrat committee.’”

I think Trump is giving the Congressional Democrats a little to much credit. I mean, how hard is it to embarrass him?

Before I go, can we talk about the “Address to the Nation–cum–Campaign Informercial” at the Lincoln Memorial? How did that happen – I mean at the Lincoln Memorial? Isn’t it restricted? Even Trump said, “I don’t think it’s ever been done, what we’re doing tonight, here…”

According to reporting by the New York Times, the Interior secretary gave special permission for President Trump to use the inside portion of the Lincoln Memorial for Sunday night’s virtual town hall with Fox News Channel.

The area beginning with the marble staircase where the columns start constitutes a boundary protected by federal law. So, on Sunday, when the president sat down with two Fox News anchors inside the memorial, during what had been promoted as a “coronavirus-focused” TV show, it was because a directive issued by David Bernhardt, the secretary of the interior, had allowed them to do so.

Mr. Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist whose Senate nomination was contested by Democrats who pointed to multiple accusations of conflicts of interest and ethical violations, ordered the memorial temporarily closed for the event, citing the coronavirus.

“Given the extraordinary crisis that the American people have endured, and the need for the president to exercise a core governmental function to address the nation about an ongoing public-health crisis,” Mr. Bernhardt wrote in an order issued Friday, “I am exercising my authority to facilitate the opportunity for the president to conduct this address within the Lincoln Memorial.”

What part of Trump’s “town hall” was a “core governmental function” about the “public-health crisis?” Or did I miss something?

My “Countdown Clock to Trump’s Last Day” now reads 259 hours, 21 days, 19 minutes and 9 seconds. And I can’t figure out how to make it run faster!

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

6 thoughts on “White House moves to shield Trump from oversight of his coronavirus response

  1. Politics all the way, through and through. I want this to be over, the virus, but I also want it to hand around so that people will remember by the time we go to vote unless he is successful in stopping us from voting. He will try!



    1. It’s interesting about this mixed emotion that I’m sure a ton of people share. We all desperately want this medical calamity to end…but that needs to be balanced with the desperate desire to have Trump end. A conundrum!


  2. Great piece, Ted. Bye,did you see Michelle Goldberg, and Frank Bruni on NYT Sunday. ? Like to talk about it.



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