Congressional Democrats are reportedly in the early stages of putting together a “9/11-style commission” to investigate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, even though most of the nation is still in the midst of fighting the deadly disease.
NBC News reports that “informal discussions” have begun on the possibility of forming up an investigative committee, and that plans are still “very preliminary.” The news organization also says, however, that the planning discussions have settled on at least two specific areas of focus: pandemic preparedness and the Trump Administration’s use of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“One option could be a plan to review the administration’s response in the annual National Defense Authorization Act,” two sources told NBC News. “The review would focus on lessons learned about the government’s preparedness and what the administration could have handled better, they said, adding that the goal would be to come up with a better plan to handle a pandemic in the future.”
With Congressional Democrats at the helm, though, it’s likely the investigation would be a “wholesale examination of the administration’s response” to the coronavirus crisis.
At least one prominent Democrat involved in the first set of impeachment inquiries, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), took to social media Wednesday to tease a possible House investigation, and announced that he’s “working on a possible bill” to create a “nonpartisan commission” on coronavirus.
“After Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we looked at what went wrong to learn from our mistakes,” Schiff tweeted. “Once we’ve recovered, we need a nonpartisan commission to review our response and how we can better prepare for the next pandemic. I’m working on a bill to do that.”
After Pearl Harbor and 9/11, we looked at what went wrong to learn from our mistakes.
Once we've recovered, we need a nonpartisan commission to review our response and how we can better prepare for the next pandemic.
I’m working on a bill to do that.https://t.co/uqO3BwVldN
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 1, 2020
In a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday, Schiff claims that “the U.S. needs to know what went wrong.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who was left disappointed and embarrassed by the Senate’s decision to acquit the president on charges he inked a “quid-pro-quo”-style agreement with Ukrainian officials, trading information on presidential contender Joe Biden for foreign aid, also mentioned the possibility of an investigation on Sunday in an interview with CNN.
“What did he know, and when did he know it?” Pelosi asked about Trump. “That’s for an after-action review.”
Some Democrats may be getting a jump on an investigation, despite leadership’s pledge to wait until after the coronavirus issue has resolved. The House Oversight and Reform Committee announced last week that it plans to investigate why there was an initial lack of testing for the novel coronavirus, per NBC News.
“The committee’s top priority is the health and safety of the American people, so we have been working to push the administration to identify and fix problems and to share more accurate information with the public,” the committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) told the outlet. “There is no doubt that the administration has mishandled this entire crisis, and our committee will certainly be engaged in robust oversight to review what happened and how to avoid these mistakes in the future.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CA), suggested on social media that he’d be open to probing whether the Trump Administration declined a request for masks and other personal protective equipment from Michigan’s Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Whitmer, who first claimed the Trump Administration was instructing vendors not to send items to her state, has since walked back her statements, telling CNN that she meant she was competing with other states for Federal resources from a central stockpile.