Washington state's Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee charges President Donald Trump has been in denial about the science of the COVID-19 crisis, likening it to if FDR called Pearl Harbor a "hoax."
In a fiery interview with Rolling Stone posted Thursday, Inslee — who has often been at the receiving end of Trump's criticism — returned fire with a withering analysis of the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 100,000 Americans, charging it reflected an "abject lack of leadership."
"It's akin to Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Dec. 8, 1941, and for months thereafter, saying that Pearl Harbor was a hoax, and that the battleships weren't important, and that the Japanese were going to surrender miraculously the next Monday," he told the outlet.
"That's kind of the scenario we have had from the current president," he continued. "If you can imagine Roosevelt doing that, we've had an equivalent of that in response to this existential crisis, and it has continued off and on even today, where we have a president who says that testing is overrated when it is absolutely fundamental to our ability to reopen our economy."
"I would say that every week as governor, I think every governor, Republican and Democrat, has run into that crevasse of a lack of leadership, from an early refusal [by Trump] to use the Defense Production Act to an effort to contradict the public-health advice from the president's own experts, almost on a daily basis, to an effort to try to promote unsafe products. The list goes on and on," he said. "It's been like trying to run a marathon dragging a dead weight every day.”
He also railed at Trump for urging "American citizens to violate the law."
"[H]e did that consciously, willfully, with his sort of dog whistle, asking people to ignore the laws of Michigan and other states, which puts people's health in jeopardy," Inslee told the outlet.
"That is unimaginable to me. I've had some problems with other presidents, but I never thought I'd see the president stoop to that low level."
Inslee said Washington state, where an early outbreak occurred, had prepared for "a variety of emergency scenarios," but added "there is no preparing 7 million people for something they've never experienced before. It's just a shock to the system."
Yet Inslee said, despite the lack of general unpreparedness for the outbreak in his state, there was an assumption of "stable, effective" help at the federal level, "and that has not been the case."
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