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Pelosi: Ignore Trump, listen to scientists

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday urged the public to ignore President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE's glowing assessment of his response to the coronavirus pandemic and tune in to the public health experts instead.

In a letter to Democratic lawmakers, Pelosi accused Trump of first undermining the country's ability to battle a global pandemic — by dismantling certain public health offices — and then deceiving the public about the administration's progress in the fight. The result, Pelosi charged, has been "unnecessary deaths and economic disaster."

"We will overcome this moment, but success requires one fundamental from which all actions will follow: we need the truth," Pelosi wrote.

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"The truth is, from this moment on, Americans must ignore lies and start to listen to scientists and other respected professionals in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones," she added.

The letter arrives as Trump is defending himself from a series of news reports indicating that he ignored early warnings from top health officials and White House advisers that the coronavirus posed a profound threat to public health and the U.S. economy — one demanding an immediate and aggressive response from the president. Instead, the reports found, Trump waited weeks before promoting strict social distancing guidelines, allowing the virus to spread widely in the meantime.

Trump, delivering near-daily press briefings on the coronavirus fight, has dismissed those accusations, noting that his late-January ban on most travel from China, where the coronavirus originated, came before a single case was reported in the United States.

"I am supposed to close down the the greatest economy in the history of the world and we don't have one case confirmed in the United States?" he asked his critics rhetorically from the White House on Monday.

That defense has done nothing to placate Pelosi, who said it's clear the president hesitated while the virus spread, exacerbating the crisis nationwide.

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"The truth is that in January Donald Trump was warned about this pandemic, ignored those warnings, took insufficient action and caused unnecessary death and disaster," she wrote Tuesday.

Pelosi is also taking Trump to task for claims that coronavirus testing kits and protective medical equipment are in abundant supply amid reports of shortages of both at medical facilities around the country.

"The President continues to obfuscate, saying we have more testing than any other country in the world," she said. "The truth is that only 1 percent of Americans have been tested."

And she's attacking Trump for pushing the blame for the uneven response on China, the states and the Obama administration.

"The truth is a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility," she wrote. "A weak person blames others."

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Fueling the debate has been Anthony FauciAnthony FauciHarris: 'Of course I will' take COVID-19 vaccine Overnight Health Care: Biden asked Fauci to serve as chief medical adviser | COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo says she won't be Biden's HHS secretary Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter encourage people to take COVID-19 vaccine MORE, an infectious disease expert and leading member of Trump's coronavirus task force, who told CNN over the weekend that "you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives."

Fauci on Monday walked back any suggestion that Trump delayed in his response, saying the president adopted the mitigation guidelines immediately after receiving the formal recommendation from his public health team.

The back-and-forth comes as Trump is increasingly eager to scale back the social distancing guidelines around the country for the sake of boosting the devastated economy — an idea that's gaining traction among Republicans on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday, Rep. Trey HollingsworthJoseph (Trey) Albert HollingsworthHillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump campaign tweet of Biden clip as manipulated media | Democrats demand in-person election security briefings resume | Proposed rules to protect power grid raise concerns Lawmakers call for bipartisan push to support scientific research The Hill's 12:30 Report: Presidential race tightens in key states MORE (R-Ind.) said promoting that economic rebound is even more important than saving lives and that Congress would be derelict to prioritize the latter.

“It is policymakers' decision to put on our big-boy and big-girl pants and say, ‘This is the lesser of these two evils,’” he said in an interview with Indianapolis's WIBC radio station.

"That is our responsibility, and to abdicate that is to insult the Americans that voted us into office," he added.

Pelosi and the Democrats have a decidedly different view, arguing that there can be no return to economic normalcy until the coronavirus has been eradicated and the public health scare has passed.

"If we are not working from the truth, more lives will be lost, economic hardship and suffering will be extended unnecessarily and our children will not be safe, happy and learning," Pelosi said. "Our future will be healthy and prosperous if we no longer tolerate lies and deceit."