Pelosi: Trump blocking House testimony is ‘beneath the dignity’ of presidency
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday slammed President Trump for saying that he won’t allow Anthony Fauci to testify before the House because he thinks the lower chamber is “a bunch of Trump haters,” saying that it is “beneath the dignity of the office that he holds.”
A House Appropriations subcommittee had sought Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to testify at a Wednesday hearing, but the request was denied by the White House.
“To say that the Congress, the House, is a bunch of haters is so beneath the dignity of the office that he holds and so distant from the seriousness he should bring to a matter of life and death of so many people in our country,” Pelosi said during an interview with MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”
But Pelosi indicated that the House wouldn’t necessarily try to issue a subpoena to obtain Fauci’s testimony.
“I would hope that Dr. Fauci would say things in public that we wouldn’t need him to be subpoenaed,” Pelosi said.
“I feel sad for him and anybody who has to stand in that task force and practically validate what’s coming out of the president’s mouth except for an occasional clarification,” she added.
While Fauci did not testify at Wednesday’s House hearing, he is scheduled to appear next week before the GOP-controlled Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Brett Giroir, who is overseeing coronavirus testing efforts, are also slated to testify at the Senate hearing.
The White House initially issued a memo on Monday stating that members of the coronavirus task force should not accept invitations to participate in congressional hearings this month unless White House chief of staff Mark Meadows made an exception. The memo said that agencies would have to decline invitations to accommodate demands on officials’ time “to remain focused on implementing of COVID-19 response.”
But Trump said Tuesday that he didn’t want Fauci to testify before the House because it’s controlled by Democrats.
“The House is a set up. The House is a bunch of Trump haters,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.
“But Dr. Fauci will be testifying in front of the Senate, and he looks forward to doing that,” Trump added. “But the House, I will tell you, the House, they should be ashamed of themselves. And, frankly, the Democrats should be ashamed, because they don’t want us to succeed. They want us to fail so they can win an election.”
The House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday instead featured testimony from former CDC Director Thomas Frieden and Caitlin Rivers, an expert from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
But House Democrats do expect to hold a hearing next week on the whistleblower complaint filed by Rick Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who alleged that he was demoted after declining to promote the use of drugs touted by Trump to treat COVID-19 patients because they lacked scientific merit.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the chair of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, said she is hoping to secure testimony from Bright directly as well as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec.
Pelosi also said during the MSNBC interview that Trump should wear a facial covering in public to set an example for Americans to follow the guidelines issued by his administration after the president visited a mask-making facility on Tuesday without wearing a mask himself.
“You’d think as the president of the United States, you would have the confidence to honor the guidance that you are giving others in the country,” Pelosi said.
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