On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence posted and then deleted a tweet praising President Donald Trump's coronavirus pandemic response. According to a report by The Daily Dot, Pence's staff has not explained why the tweet was deleted, but Twitter users eviscerated Pence in the comments for suggesting that Trump had "put the health of America first."
Pence tagged Trump in his Thursday tweet, where he wrote: "It is important to remember that President [Trump] shut down the entire American economy to put the health of America first." As critics were quick to point out, this was objectively false — Trump declined to take charge of stay-at-home orders on a national level, leaving it to governors and other state leaders to handle their responses. The Trump administration also downplayed the threat of the virus, and Trump has clashed with public health officials ever since.
It appears Mike Pence has deleted this tweet. That might be because the president did not do what Pence claimed he did. pic.twitter.com/Trcwehw4P0— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 10, 2020
Pence's tweet was particularly egregious to many readers as it came so soon after the release of Bob Woodward's new book, Rage. According to a report by The Washington Post, Woodward interviewed Trump about the coronavirus in March, when Trump outright told him he wanted to "play it down."
"I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don't want to create a panic," he said. "Now it's turning out it's not just old people, Bob. But just today, and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It's not just old, older. Young people, too, plenty of young people."
Woodward provided audio clips of this interview to back it up, noting that at the exact same time, the public messaging from the White House was to downplay the threat of COVID-19. While Trump talked about reducing "panic," critics say it was still irresponsible of him to share inaccurate information about the virus, implying that it was still safe for Americans to go out in public.
#TrumpKnew & #PenceKnew. @VP would have been receiving the same briefings at the same time as @realDonaldTrump. Yet Pence followed lock step backing up Trump's lies that Covid was nothing but the flue & would go away. Pushed to open the country & schools. https://t.co/IrIScSHiuI— Jason Peterson (@rellik68) September 11, 2020
The book also reveals how early Trump was briefed on the threat — his national security adviser Robert O'Brien reportedly told him in January: "This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency. This is going to be the roughest thing you face."
With that in mind, many critics say Trump had all the information he needed to take more preventative measures against the outbreak. For Pence to suggest otherwise was not just incorrect, they argued, but disrespectful to the loved ones of over 190,000 Americans who have died in this pandemic.