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Pelosi: Trump's focus on China is an 'interesting diversion'

Pelosi: Trump's focus on China is an 'interesting diversion'
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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSpending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation Rep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE's repeated attacks on China are designed merely to divert the public's attention from potential administration mistakes in the early stages of the coronavirus response.

"What the president is saying about China is interesting — it's an interesting diversion," Pelosi told a small group of reporters in the Capitol.

Pelosi and House Democrats are charging ahead with a massive, $3 trillion legislative package designed to alleviate the medical and economic damage caused by the deadly pandemic, which has killed more than 85,000 people in the United States and wiped out years of job growth.

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As the death toll climbs higher, and the jobless numbers soar, Trump in recent weeks has increasingly blamed China — where the virus is thought to have originated — for doing too little to extinguish the threat and concealing the severity of the outbreak from the rest of the world.

Last week, the president described the pandemic as an attack even worse than Pearl Harbor or the 9/11 attacks.

"And it should have never happened. Could've been stopped at the source," he said. "Could've been stopped in China."

On Thursday he went a step further, saying the United States should end its reliance on any products manufactured in China — "We shouldn't have supply chains," he told Fox News — while threatening to "cut off" all ties with Beijing.

"You'd save $500 billion, if you cut off the whole relationship," Trump said.

Pelosi dismissed the comments as bluster from a president fighting to shift political blame just months before November's elections. She urged Trump, and all Washington policymakers, to forget about how the coronavirus arrived and focus instead on how to eliminate it.

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"We should be using our energy on how we go forward [instead of] making judgments about what his administration did or didn't do. We're talking about going forward. There will be plenty of time for after-action review," she said.

"So instead of diverting attention from mistakes that may have been made here, let's just put that all aside and go forward for what we can do working together for the good of the American people," she added.

The House is set to vote Friday on the Democrats' $3 trillion relief package, the fifth in a series of emergency aid bills since the beginning of March. Much of the legislation builds on past proposals, providing hundreds of billions of dollars to states, medical workers, small businesses and those laid off as a result of the economic free fall brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

The package is dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate, where GOP leaders have hammered the legislation as a partisan fantasy, that's both too expansive and not focused directly enough on the health crisis at hand.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellImmigration, executive action top Biden preview of first 100 days Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight McConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report MORE (R-Ky.) has made clear he has no intention of rushing into the next round of relief before the trillions of dollars in previously approved funds are out the door.

"I don't think we have yet felt the urgency of acting immediately," McConnell said earlier this week.

Pelosi, pointing to the rising number of deaths and skyrocketing number of jobless claims, is hoping public sentiment will pressure McConnell and the Republicans to find that urgency in the days ahead.

"He wants us to just pause. But families know that hunger doesn't take a pause, not having a job doesn't take a pause, not being able to pay the rent doesn't take a pause," Pelosi said.