President Donald Trump is taking a new round of criticism this week over revelations, contained in a book by veteran journalist Bob Woodward, that he knew months in advance about the public health risk of the coronavirus, but deliberately downplayed it.
Trump’s Republican allies on Capitol Hill have dodged public comment on the new information in the book about Trump’s depth of knowledge of the virus, which has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, including 7,837 in Pennsylvania as of midday on Friday, and sickened millions more nationwide.
The Capital-Star reached out to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., for comment on the new Woodward book. Toomey’s statement, through a spokesman, is reprinted in full below. It avoided direct comment on any of the new information exposed in Woodward’s book.
“Overlooked by most covering this issue is that at the time of the interview, Congress and the White House Coronavirus Task Force were taking urgent and unprecedented steps to address a historic public health crisis,” Toomey’s spokesman, Steve Kelly, said in an email. “For example, Senator Toomey helped lead the effort to pass the CARES Act and was the first member of Congress to encourage Americans to wear masks. He even drafted and presented to the public his own plan on how Pennsylvania could start to safely reopen its economy.”
In a follow-up email, the Capital-Star asked if Toomey had any direct response to the revelations in Woodward’s book.
“What the comment is getting at is that regardless of the interview, urgent and unprecedented emergency steps were being taken at that time to try and address the crisis,” Kelly told the Capital-Star.
Pennsylvania’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Bob Casey, of Scranton, offered this in a Tweet:
Over the next few days you’re likely to hear a lot of Republicans in Washington offering excuses or flat out denying these reports. Don’t believe them. It’s literally on tape. https://t.co/PyT201dX55
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) September 9, 2020