Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was ready to blame everyone but Donald Trump for America’s coronavirus calamity during a Thursday morning appearance on The View. That included China, the World Health Organization and, most notably, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
After commiserating with host Joy Behar about their shared goal of trying not to “gain a hundred pounds in isolation,” Graham began singing the president’s praises to taking decisive actions “that have flattened the curve and kept the exposure in the United States down.”
“On what we need to do better, I think the key to me is testing,” the senator continued. “I can't really blame the president, but we are struggling with testing on a large scale. You really can't go back to work until we have more tests that shows who has it and who doesn't, and we're beginning to turn the corner on that.”
“Well, I do think that you can blame the president,” Sunny Hostin shot back, arguing that the Trump administration lost valuable time “downplaying the threats, stalling funds, not getting appropriate testing” and more.
After quoting Trump, who said “I take no responsibility at all” while declaring a national emergency last month, Hostin asked, “Do you agree with that? That he bears no responsibility as the president of the United States?”
“I think he’s done a good job,” Graham said, skirting the direct question. Then came the pivot.
“I blame China,” he continued. “This virus came out of China. It didn’t come out of the United States. The Chinese lied to the world about the nature of the virus. We lost a lot of time.”
Graham then looked down at his prepared notes to take aim at someone else. “Here's what Dr. Fauci said on February the 29th,” he said. “I think most of us trust him. At least I do.”
He quoted a question that Fauci received on the Today show that read: “People are waking up right now with real concerns about this. They want to go to malls and movies, maybe the gym as well. Should we be changing our habits and, if so, how?”
Fauci replied, “No. Right now, at this moment, there’s no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day by day basis. Right now the risk is still low, but this could change.” Graham conspicuously left out the warning he delivered in the same interview that “this could be a major outbreak.”
“So on February the 29th, the preeminent guy in the nation felt like it was OK to go to a movie or a gym,” Graham said, before adding, ominously, “So I would rather look forward than backwards.”
Moments later, Graham redefined what a successful federal response will look like by saying that he believes if the president had “just let it play out, there would be a couple million Americans dead.”
“If we had not done all of the things we’re doing now, I think you would have well-north of a million Americans dead,” Graham said. “To those who want to second-guess our reaction, I don’t buy it, because I am so glad the president didn’t take your advice and let the damn thing play out.”
He added, “I think everything we've done to this point has saved probably well over a million Americans from death from the virus.”