Sen. Kamala Harris thinks that President Trump’s failure to respond quickly to the coronavirus has made the crisis worse, causing economic destruction and costing American lives.
"There is no question that if we'd had a president in charge who actually took their responsibility seriously, that we would probably be looking at a lot less damage than we have incurred," she said in an interview with VICE News. "We watch every day the number of people infected and the number of people who are dead. We are every day hearing and watching stories about body bags. So, look, the buck stops with the president."
This week the U.S. took the global lead in both confirmed coronavirus cases as well as deaths, surpassing Italy, Spain, and possibly China, though data from China is thought to be unreliable. At the same time, 22 million have claimed unemployment benefits in the past three weeks, and retail sales have plummeted as wide sectors of the economy have shut down.
The California Democrat laid much of the blame at the feet of the president.
“The fact is that he has abandoned his role of leadership and meaning the role of the president of the United States," she said. "He’s abandoned the role of the president of the United States.”
Harris ticked off what she sees as failures of the Trump administration in its response to the pandemic, which has now claimed more than 30,000 lives in the U.S.
“His failure to take this seriously, from the time of calling it a hoax, to getting rid of the Obama administration’s focus through the White House on pandemics, to him trivializing the issue including the importance of social distancing” has made the crisis in the United States worse than it needed to be, she said.
Harris spoke to VICE News through a video conference on Thursday to discuss legislation she has introduced to prioritize funding and tracking of racial health disparities from the pandemic. An Associated Press analysis of communities with racial impact data show that while African Americans made up 21% of the population studied, they accounted for 42% of the deaths to the coronavirus.
Harris, who dropped her own run for the White House earlier this year, is thought to be a potential vice presidential pick for presumed Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
In the interview, she accused the current White House of taking an ideological approach to fighting the virus, rather than using the best science and fact-based analysis..
“The thing about this moment and it also is a source, therefore, of frustration about who this president is and how he has been approaching this issue: this is science. These things just don’t lie. Science is based on empirical data. Science is based on peer review. Science is based on analysis, objective analysis.”
Cover: Sen. Kamala Harris during an interview on April 7, 2020 with Seth Meyers on NBC. (Photo by NBC via Getty Images)