Lindsey Graham Defies Trump Demand To Make Obama Testify; ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’
As a congressional committee convened Thursday to hear testimony from whistleblower Rick Bright on the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response, the president tweeted a demand for a legislator to call former President Barack Obama as a witness. He specifically tagged Senator Lindsey Graham, and insisted, “just do it!” Graham says he won’t be doing any such thing — and that the president should be careful what he wishes for.
According to NPR, Rick Bright spoke out against the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, saying that he and colleagues at Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) were concerned about what they were seeing. After Bright raised concerns about Hydroxychloroquine, the drug Trump touted as a likely cure for the virus, he was reassigned to a lesser role at the National Institutes for Health. He feels the move was retaliatory. He’s filed a whistleblower complaint, and appeared before Congress Thursday morning to give testimony.
As testimony got underway Thursday morning, Trump gave his own commentary on the proceedings via tweet.
If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020
Trump has pointed fingers at the Obama administration regarding the pandemic response, saying that an Obama-era rule prevented testing from being available quickly enough (Fact Check found that there was no such rule) and complaining that Obama left behind “broken” tests for a virus that didn’t exist yet during his term. He didn’t clarify what testimony might be demanded of Obama on Thursday.
Lindsey Graham, however, is not acting on Trump’s demand. In fact, he indicated to one reporter that he didn’t think it was such a great idea. Andrew Desiderio, for Politico, asked Graham about the idea, and the South Carolina senator said that he wasn’t sure such a thing was possible, and that Trump should be careful about such ideas.
Asked Graham about this tweet just now. He reiterated that he’s not going to call in Obama.
“I don’t think now’s the time for me to do that. I don’t know if that’s even possible.”
“I understand President Trump’s frustration, but be careful what you wish for.” https://t.co/B5LVPcznJR
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) May 14, 2020
There was no elaboration from Graham on exactly what he thought might result from Obama’s hypothetical testimony on the pandemic, but in addition to Trump’s blaming of Obama for the current administration’s testing response, there have been false claims that the Obama administration didn’t leave any guidance for handling this particular kind of crisis. As a fact check from Mercury News details, the previous administration in fact left a 69-page guide for pandemic response, and the Trump administration didn’t follow it.
Obama has openly criticized Trump’s handling and politicization of the pandemic, but most recently issued a plea to move forward, saying, “we can still make real progress against the virus, protect people from the economic fallout, and more safely approach something closer to normal if we start making better policy decisions now.” As of May 13, the CDC counts over 82k U.S. deaths attributable to the pandemic, and over 21k new cases from the previous day.