Schiff Calls For Investigation Commission Into Trump Response of Coronavirus
U.S. Congress

Schiff Calls For Investigation Commission Into Trump Response of Coronavirus

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is working on drafting legislation to create a “nonpartisan commission” to scrutinize the Trump administration’s response and handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“After Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we looked at what went wrong to learn from our mistakes,” the House Intelligence Committee chairman said in a tweet. “Once we’ve recovered, we need a nonpartisan commission to review our response and how we can better prepare for the next pandemic.”

“I’m working on a bill to do that” he continued, linking an interview he did with The Washington Post breaking the news.

In the interview with the Washington Post, Schiff said that his staff are working on a draft modeled after the 9/11 commission, adding that the House Intelligence Committee, in which he chairs has already begun reviewing the committee’s intelligence materials on the pandemic.

“We will need to delay the work of the commission until the crisis has abated to ensure that it does not interfere with the agencies that are leading the response,” Schiff told the Washington Post. “But that should not prevent us from beginning to identify where we got it wrong and how we can be prepared for the next pandemic.”

Republicans criticized Schiff, who as head impeachment manager was leading the effort to impeach President Trump during the month of January as nations like Japan and South Korea first reported on January 20 the infection had spread. Days later, China authorities sealed off the city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged and a week later, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency. The Trump administration on January 31 blocked foreign nationals who had traveled to China in the previous two weeks from entering the United States.

“Make no mistake about Adam Schiff’s real intentions behind launching an investigation into coronavirus: a guise for him to lead another bogus impeachment,” Trump’s campaign rapid response director Steve Guest said in a press release. “Schiff has no ground to stand on. When coronavirus arrived in America, what was Adam Schiff focused on? Wasting time with a bogus impeachment.”

Intelligence Committee Ranking Republican Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) called the investigation from Schiff an “another dumb stunt.”

“His Russia collusion hoax failed, his Ukraine scam failed, and his efforts to cover up FISA abuse failed,” Nunes said on Fox News. “So, Schiff is launching yet another dumb stunt to justify his never-ending media relations operation.”

Rep. Jim Jordan(R-OH) called the commission from Schiff an “attack on the Trump Administration.”

“The same people who delayed the Coronavirus relief bill because they demanded giveaways for special interests and millions for the Kennedy Center now want to create a commission to attack the Trump Administration’s response? Give me a break,” Jordan said in a statement. “And the person who is leading this effort is Adam Schiff — the same Adam Schiff who released the phone records of the President’s personal attorney, a journalist, and a sitting Member of Congress. We should focus on stopping the virus, not politicizing the crisis.”

Shortly after Schiff tweet announced he was drafting the commission, Democratic lawmakers on Homeland Security Committee introduced legislation to create an independent commission modeled after the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks on September 11. The commission will consist of 25 members appointed by a bipartisan group of House lawmakers and will be tasked in producing a “full and complete accounting of the nation’s preparedness and response” to the coronavirus.

“Americans will need answers on how our government can work better to prevent a similar crisis from happening again,” Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) said in a statement. “While we don’t yet know the full impact the coronavirus will have on the nation, already more Americans have been killed by the virus than died in the September 11, 2001 attacks. This legislation we are introducing is the first step towards getting this done for the American people.”

The 9/11 Commission that House Democrats want to model for the coronavirus commission was created 14 months after the September 11 attacks. The independent, bipartisan commission created were chartered to review and prepare a full and complete account of the government’s preparedness for, response to the 2001 terrorist attacks and recommendations designed to guard against future attacks. Two years later, the commission released its public report.

The 25-member commission will be selected by the Democratic committee chair and the ranking Republican on each of 12 House committees, with the final member selected by the Joint Economic Committee. A public report would be publish 18 months after the commission conducts a comprehensive investigation and will include recommendations for the development of a national plan for future health related pandemics.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) raised the possibility of an “after-action” investigation Sunday, telling CNN that Trump’s response has cost American lives. 

“What did he know, and when did he know it?” Pelosi said in the interview with CNN. “That’s for an after-action review. But, as the President fiddles, people are dying.”

The House is currently in recess and not set to reconvene until April 20.

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Mona Salama