TRANSCRIPT: At Press Conference, Schumer Outlines How Woodward Tapes Show Pres. Trump Put Himself First Instead Of Reckoning With The COVID Pandemic And How The Republican Coronavirus Response Bill Falls Far Short Of The Needs Of The American People

September 9, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today at a press conference spoke regarding the release of excerpts from interviews by Bob Woodward with President Trump, in which the president admits to downplaying the severity of the coronavirus. Senator Schumer outlined how the Woodward tapes show President Trump put himself first instead of reckoning with the COVID pandemic and how the Republican coronavirus response bill falls far short of the needs of the American people. A transcript can be found below:

Now, I want to start with what's been reported in the Washington Post and other places now and backed up by recordings.

There is damning proof that Donald Trump lied and people died. This report is totally believable. We all know President Trump puts himself first. But this time, the consequences were deadly. And when I think about how many people in my state died in February, and March, and April, it just makes me angry. I cannot believe he deceived the American people the way he did.

How many people would still be alive today if he just told Americans the truth? He had an obligation to tell them the truth. Ex-post-facto he comes up with excuses. They don't carry any weight. It’s the truth that matters, especially when it's life and death.

In the early days of the pandemic, as we know, President Trump downplayed the threat of the coronavirus. He said it would just go away. He went on TV and said it's no worse than the flu. But he knew that that wasn't the case.

He knew it was much more dangerous.

What we know now is the president wasn't ill-informed. He was lying to the American people.

He was deliberately downplaying the virus to the American people at a time when early steps would certainly have saved lives.

People who believe him and follow what he says may have died because of his words. This just reveals that the president treated COVID-19 like a P.R. problem rather than a once in a generation health crisis. And that takes us to another attempt by Republicans to downplay the current situation. 

As the pain, the economic pain for millions of Americans advances. Senate Republicans are actually moving backwards.

Leader McConnell yesterday announced by that by the end of the week the Senate will vote on a new slimmed down version of an already “skinny” Republican bill.

Facing the greatest economic crisis in 75 years, the greatest health crisis in a century, Leader McConnell isn't searching for bipartisan progress – he's looking for political cover. What we have now is a stripped-down bill cobbled together, not as a serious legislative response, but as a check-the-box vote for vulnerable Republicans, so they can pretend like they did something. It's not going to work.

People want real results, not political games. And when these Senators go home and say well I voted for something – they're not producing. They're not producing.

Leader McConnell at his press conference said, ask the Democrats what they object to in his bill. How about the corporate immunity plan, which he's known for months we would object to? That's a poison pill, which shows you that he doesn't want the bill to pass. How about the new Betsy DeVos school choice plan, which funnels money into private schools, while cutting money from public schools? That's a poison pill.

We object to it Leader McConnell! Take it out of your bill. You can't, because he couldn't get the votes of the far right. He didn't want to spend any money and this is the way he tried to get them to vote for the bill,

Clearly, clearly, clearly Leader McConnell is not interested in passing a bill, not interested in helping the American people who are in pain. Just scoring political points. He seems to be the secretary of cynicism.

This is one of the most cynical ploys I've seen. Because people are dying. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their small businesses. Well, McConnell's ploy won't work because he's not producing any real results. He’s just doing what he seems most comfortable doing which is playing political games.

So now, instead of improving their offer to get bipartisan support, Senate Republicans have made it stingier, and even less appropriate to the looming crisis.

No money to support state and local governments—red states and blue states are begging for help.

No money to make sure hungry kids and families have food to eat.

No money for rental assistance to help families struggle to stay in their homes.

No funds to expand broadband for kids who need to get to go to school now.

Not enough money to help schools reopen safely. And the money they do have forces kids back into classrooms that may not be safe.

It is impossible to look at this GOP proposal and not wonder, do our Republican friends see the damage in America? Or are they still trying to fool the American people by calling a harshly partisan proposal bipartisan.

The truth is, if you wanted to draft a bill that was certain to fail, McConnell's proposal is it. It’s one of the most cynical moves I've ever seen in the midst of a huge crisis.

While the Republican plan leaves many behind, we're going to keep fighting for a comprehensive plan that meets the needs of all those who have been hurt by COVID.

If past is prologue, once the Republicans see they can’t intimidate us into voting for a wildly insufficient bill, they may come to the table and do what needs to be done as they did in COVID-2, 3 and 3.5. We hope that will happen, because we want to pass a bill that meets the needs of America.