Pompeo Defends Trump’s Coronavirus Response in House Hearing

(Bloomberg) -- Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s response to the potential spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., telling Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that mixed messages from the administration are breeding distrust among Americans.

“Americans have lost trust in their government,” said Representative David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat. “Now, we’re facing a serious global health crisis in the form of the coronavirus and trust is more important than ever.”

Representative Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida, said his office gets calls “every minute of every day” about the virus and that any bit of misinformation or mixed messaging from the government is making it harder for officials to reassure the public.

“This impacts everyone in America and it’s more important than politics,” Deutch said. “The administration must do better.”

Pompeo initially pushed back against questions on the coronavirus, saying he was appearing before the committee to discuss the administration’s Iran and Iraq policy yet the first question he got was about the virus.

He later said he’s “confident” that the administration has taken actions that have significantly reduced risks from the virus and will continue to do so. Pressed about proposed budget cuts that Democrats said could hinder the international response, Pompeo said “we’ll have plenty of money.”

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