Pelosi slams White House for blocking coronavirus task force members from testifying: 'They might be afraid of the truth'

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAs coronavirus surges, Trump tries to dismantle healthcare for millions Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Pelosi plans legislation to limit pardons, commutations after Roger Stone move MORE (D-Calif.) on Monday blasted the White House's move to restrict officials leading the nation's coronavirus response from testifying before Congress, suggesting that the Trump administration "might be afraid of the truth." 

The Trump administration on Monday issued new guidance instructing coronavirus task force members not to accept invitations to participate in congressional hearings this month unless approved by White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump wears mask during visit to Walter Reed Barr recommended Trump not give Stone clemency: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Miami pauses reopenings as COVID-19 infections rise, schools nationally plot return MORE. The move came after the White House late last week blocked Anthony FauciAnthony FauciDeSantis breaks with Fauci, says Florida didn't rush reopening Overnight Health Care: Coronavirus deaths rise again amid mounting outbreaks | The Trump-Fauci divide is getting more apparent | New York to deliver remdesivir to Florida after DeSantis dismisses offer for help BioNTech CEO confident vaccine will be ready for regulatory approval by end of 2020 MORE, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, from testifying before a House committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday. 

Pelosi said Congress needs to hear from officials handling the COVID-19 response to help lawmakers determine how resources should be allocated in upcoming coronavirus relief legislation.

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"The fact is that we need to allocate resources for this. In order to do that, any appropriations bill must begin in the House. And we have to have the information to act upon," Pelosi said during an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." 

Pelosi added that Meadows, who recently resigned from Congress to serve as President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE's latest chief of staff, knows House Democrats will be "very, very strictly insisting on the truth."

"And they might be afraid of the truth," Pelosi said.

She panned the move as “business as usual” for the Trump administration, which has blocked witnesses from testifying before the Democratic-led House on numerous other occasions, such as last year’s impeachment inquiry into the president’s efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents. 

The White House said it is limiting officials' appearances before Congress so they can focus on response efforts instead of spending hours preparing for and giving sworn testimony on Capitol Hill.

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“The demands on agencies’ staff and resources are extraordinary in this current crisis. Agencies must maximize their resources for COVID-19 response efforts and treat hearing requests accordingly,” the guidance says.

“Given these competing demands in these unprecedented times, it is reasonable to expect that agencies will have to decline invitations to hearings to remain focused on implementing of COVID-19 response, including declining to participate in multiple hearings on the same or overlapping topics,” it adds.

The White House blocked Fauci from testifying before the Democratic-controlled House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Department of Health and Human Services. But Fauci is expected to appear before the GOP-controlled Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee later this month.

The House Appropriations subcommittee will instead hear from Thomas Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The new White House guidance came as the Trump administration began projecting that the number of coronavirus cases and deaths would continue climbing, with up to 3,000 deaths per day by June 1, even as the president has encouraged states to start lifting restrictions.

Pelosi also defended the decision she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Ernst: Renaming Confederate bases is the 'right thing to do' despite 'heck' from GOP Advocacy groups pressure Senate to reconvene and boost election funding MORE (R-Ky.) made to turn down the Trump administration's offer for a rapid testing system on Capitol Hill so the tests can be allocated toward front-line workers instead.

"I don't know there's one member of Congress who says, 'I want to have a test before my constituent who really needs one gets one because I should be more important than that.' And I was very pleased that we were able to do that in a bipartisan way," Pelosi told Blitzer.