Criminal malfeasance resulted in infection of Trump and top GOP lawmakers
The criminal negligence of the president continued on Sunday, when he needlessly exposed Secret Service and hospital staff to his coronavirus infection in order to take a spin around the block at Walter Reed hospital in order to wave to his supporters. COVID quarantine measures require that an infected person remain in isolation. | AP

The Trump administration’s refusal to take the coronavirus seriously continued as the president said he would be getting out of the hospital Monday evening.

He tweeted that the virus was nothing to worry about because of the “wonderful” advances in treatment “under the Trump administration.”

Some 211,000 dead, if they could speak, and the 7.5 million infected and their families, of course, know the falsehood of that statement by a president. As does a nation on its knees as the infection rates continue to climb daily.

“He is determined not to crush this virus,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared, “but he is determined instead to crush the Affordable Care Act,” which, if he succeeds, would take health care away from many millions of people as the pandemic continues to take its toll.

Lucky for the president, he returns to a White House equipped with a virtual hospital that will make available to him continued care unavailable to most Americans even when they are hospitalized.

His return must concern those in the White House who have not yet been infected as they now have a person still likely shedding the virus coming back into their workplace.

Trump continued his reckless attitude to controlling the virus while he was hospitalized. Medical experts have almost universally condemned his decision to leave the hospital this weekend for a joy ride to wave to a small crowd of his supporters outside the hospital.

Secret service agents had to sit with the president in a sealed vehicle while he acted so irresponsibly. Even first responders fully equipped with PPE have contracted the virus when in small enclosed rooms with sick patients.

Today, his press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and two of her aids tested positive for the virus, adding to the long list of White House staff sick now with COVID 19.

New Jersey, which has a robust tracing program, is complaining that the administration is not complying with requests for complete information on the 200 guests who attended a fundraising event with the president when it is becoming increasingly likely that he was already infected with the coronavirus.

Attorney General William Barr, who was in closer contact with the president than many of his aides who have been infected, continues to refuse testing and continues to refuse to wear a mask.

Four Republican senators, in addition to the three who have already tested positive, are in quarantine now while they await either test results or the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

The situation with infected and possibly infected Republican senators is so bad that they may have to hold off on their rush to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, the right-wing attorney Trump wants on the Supreme Court.

So determined they are to cement control of the Court in the hands of the extreme right that GOP Sen. Ron Johnson said today he would show up in a “moon suit” to get the job done.

In the last few days, the president of the United States, his wife, three top GOP senators, and many of his inner circle at and around the White House have been infected with the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

No serious person celebrates the suffering and death that have resulted from the spread of this virus, no matter who is infected. Nevertheless, it is incontrovertible fact that the negligence of the Trump administration from the outset—action and inaction that in many other countries would long ago have led to charges of criminal malfeasance—has resulted in so many of his own close advisers becoming ill.

On Saturday Trump’s doctors came out of the hospital to update the press on his health. They dodged questions about whether he needed oxygen and did nothing to clarify confusion about the timeline and circumstances surrounding the infection of Trump and so much of his inner circle. AP

Worse yet, it is the reason millions are observing a National Week of Mourning this week for the now estimated 210,000 dead from this disease. They are rallying and marching for our dead and fighting for the living, even if only virtually because of the dangers of close contact with our fellow human beings. That loss of intimacy and fellowship is yet another horrible consequence of this disease to be mourned.

Fortunately for the president, he is receiving free care in one of the finest hospitals in America, the Walter Reed Medical Center outside of Washington, D.C. Tragically, however, his administration, spearheaded in the Senate by Mitch McConnell, continues its effort to seat a Supreme Court Justice who would strike down the Affordable Care Act, taking away health care that 20 million-plus other Americans are trying to keep. That 20 million doesn’t include the millions of others who have lost their employer-based health plans and are now turning to the ACA.

The criminal negligence of the president continued on Sunday, when he needlessly exposed Secret Service and hospital staff to his coronavirus infection in order to take a spin around the block at Walter Reed hospital in order to wave to his supporters. COVID quarantine measures require that an infected person remain in isolation.

It’s fitting to recall, in this context, that Walter Reed (1851-1902) was a U.S. Army physician who, a year before his own death, led a team of scientists who confirmed the Cuban doctor Carlos Finlay’s theory that the pandemic of their day, yellow fever, is transmitted by a particular mosquito species, rather than by direct contact. Unlike what we see now, a hundred years ago, science-led policy, and international cooperation was something to be sought out, not disparaged.

The way to deal with this tragedy of an entire nation forced to its knees by the pandemic and economic disaster, and with the death toll soon approaching a quarter of a million, is for the Trump administration and the Republicans to quit the posturing and politicking and unite with the Democrats who have already passed the Heroes Act in the House of Representatives.

The Heroes Act will deliver desperately needed help to millions fighting to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads during this terrible time whose most comparable precedents go back to the AIDS epidemic starting in the 1980s (for which there is still no effective vaccine), and the 1918 Flu Pandemic which infected 500 million people worldwide in the years 1918-20.

In addition to the lack of consistent, reliable leadership from the Trump administration, with its zeal to prematurely “reopen” schools, businesses, and public spaces, and to let the safeguards down, it is quite possible that the infection of so many Republican leaders in these last days is part of a new resurgence of the virus across our country.

In a staged publicity photo distributed by the White House, Trump appears hard at work while hospitalized at Walter Reed. A close zoom on the photo showed that Trump had done nothing but sign blank pieces of paper. He could have used his Sharpie to sign the new Heroes Act into law, providing help for millions. | AP

This makes passage of the Heroes Act even more important right now.

Any further delay by the administration or the Republicans in the Senate only compounds the unforgivable negligence that has caused so much harm already to our country.

Many lawmakers have come out saying that they are “praying” for the recovery of the president, his family, and the other top Republican leaders.

What we need from them now is a lot more than prayer. We need for them to step up and fight for the living, the thousands becoming newly infected each day in America, and for the millions who are still struggling to stay alive. We need Trump and his Republican senators to do their job. Right now, that means the senators immediately passing and the president, from his bed at Walter Reed Hospital, if need be, signing into law the Heroes Act.

President Trump and Republican senators: The ball is in your court.

Eric A. Gordon, Chauncey K. Robinson, and C.J. Atkins contributed to this article.

This article has been updated since it was first posted last Saturday.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.