Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Sunday accused President Donald Trump of ‘fiddling while people are dying’ of the COVID-19 Chinese coronavirus. Pelosi then raised the Watergate question of ‘what did the president know and when did he know it’ when saying an “after-action review” would take place to investigate President Trump.
Pelosi made her incendiary comments on CNN’s State of the Union in an interview with host Jake Tapper.
Tapper asked, …”Trump is considering relaxing federal guidelines for coronavirus for some of the less affected parts of the country, do you think he should?”
Pelosi began her remarks noting the U.S. coronavirus death toll topping 2,000 people Saturday, then pivoted to attacking Trump.
Well, first of all let me just say how sad it is that even since the President’s signing of the bill, the number of deaths reported has doubled from one thousand to two thousand in our country. This is such a very, very sad time for us. We should be taking every precaution.
Uh, what the President, his uh, denial at the beginning uh, was deadly. His delaying of getting uh, equipment to where it, it continues his delay to getting equipment to where it is needed is deadly. And now I think the best thing would be to do is to prevent more uh, loss of life rather than open things up so that, cuz we just don’t know. We have to have testing, testing, testing. That’s what we said from the start before we can evaluate uh, what the, the uh, nature of it is in some of these other regions as well. I don’t know what the purpose of that is.
I don’t know what the scientists are saying to him. I don’t know what the scientists said to him. When did this president know about this and what did he know? What did he know and when did he know it? That’s for an after-action review. But as the President fiddles, people are dying. and we have to, we just have to take every precaution.”
Video clip posted by Pelosi’s staff to Twitter with the statement, “What did the President know and when did he know it? People are dying.”
What did the President know and when did he know it? People are dying. pic.twitter.com/523KQLG5xV
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) March 29, 2020
Question: "Are you saying that [Trump's] downplaying ultimately cost American lives?"
Speaker Pelosi: "Yes I am, I'm saying that." pic.twitter.com/VzSbmc0UtF
— The Hill (@thehill) March 29, 2020
Pelosi’s “what did the President know and when did he know it” question is an obvious nod to the Watergate impeachment investigation of President Richard Nixon that led to his resignation in 1974.
The question was asked at a June 29, 1973 Senate hearing by Republican Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee.
Excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor from a June 23, 2014 report on Baker’s passing away:
…Then John Dean decided to come clean. Mr. Dean was White House counsel and a cover-up coordinator. (For instance, he had supervised payments of hush money to the Watergate burglars.) In early April, he began talking to the Senate committee and revealing what he knew. Nixon fired him on April 30.
Dean’s public testimony before the Senate panel, including Baker, began on June 25, 1973. He read a statement for the first two days and then answered questions. On June 29, Baker, in his easy drawl, began his try at Dean.
“My primary thesis is still, what did the president know, and when did he know it?” said the senator.
What’s forgotten today is that Baker thought he was protecting Nixon with that line. He was attempting to wall off the president from the actions of aides who might have done something wrong.
“He evidently meant to exculpate Nixon from prior knowledge of the break-in,” wrote historian Fred Emery in his book “Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon.”
But Dean turned this question around. Among other things, he charged that Nixon had been involved in discussions about clemency for those who had carried out and organized the break-ins, as well as talks about payoffs. Dean said the president had continued these activities even after he, as White House counsel, had warned his boss of a “cancer” on the presidency…