Mitt Romney Goes After Trump’s Absurd Coronavirus Claims

The Utah senator is the only Republican willing to do more than air polite disagreement about the president’s disastrous response.

Tom Williams/AP

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

Sen. Mitt Romney on Tuesday decried the Trump administration’s ongoing claims that the US leads the world in coronavirus testing, saying that the country’s record in uncovering and tracking the virus is “nothing to celebrate whatsoever.”

“I understand that politicians are going to frame data in a way that’s most positive politically,” Romney said during a much-anticipated Senate hearing with top health officials helping lead the country’s coronavirus response. “But yesterday you celebrated that we had done more tests and more tests per capita even than South Korea. But you ignore the fact that they accomplished theirs at the beginning of the outbreak, while we treaded water during February and March.”

“By March 6, the US had completed just 2,000 tests,” he continued, “whereas South Korea had conducted more than 140,000 tests. So partially as a result of that, they have 256 deaths and we have almost 80,000 deaths.”

The scathing rebuke came just one day after the White House staged a press conference to try to take a victory lap amid the rising death count by celebrating the growing number of cumulative tests, even while the tests available per day remain far below what experts say is necessary to safely monitor a more mobile population. And the Utah senator didn’t stop there.

With the limited time he had left, Romney asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases, if there was any truth to Trump’s accusations that former President Barack Obama is to blame for the lack of a coronavirus vaccine. “No, no senator, not at all,” a straight-faced Fauci responded. “Certainly President Obama nor President Trump are responsible for our not having a vaccine.”

It was a stunning thing to witness: A former GOP presidential candidate coming to the defense of the Democrat who defeated him in order to knock the current leader of his party. But perhaps even more extraordinary was the fact that Romney was the only Republican Senator willing to use the hearing to do more than air some polite strain over the president’s disastrous pandemic response.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.