It sure would be nice if the current administration could pull it together and act like a normal government for something as serious as the coronavirus, but apparently that’s too much to ask. During a House hearing to address the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today refused to state that the coronavirus is not a hoax.

No matter how many chances he was given by Democratic Representative Ted Lieu.


The reason Rep. Lieu brought this up was that White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney reportedly called the coronavirus the “hoax of the day” at CPAC before the hearing.

“Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told the Conservative Political Action Conference that the coronavirus was the hoax of the day,” Lieu said. “Do you agree with Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mulvaney that the coronavirus is the hoax of the day?”

Pompeo, predictably, tried to dodge the actual question. But even when given an easier question to answer, he refused.

“Do you believe coronavirus is a hoax?” Lieu said. “I’m not going to comment on what others are saying,” Pompeo replied. “I’m just telling you what the Secretary of State is doing.”

As Lieu continued to try and get a straight answer, Pompeo dismissed the inquiry as a “gotcha moment,” calling it “not useful.” However, it does seem somewhat useful in a time when conspiracy theories on the subject seem to be spreading faster than the virus itself, with multiple important figures on the right suggesting that Donald Trump’s opponents are using (if not creating) the coronavirus to crash the stock market and make the president look bad.

So it would be nice if the Secretary of State could simply say that the virus is real. In his tweet, Lieu accused Pompeo of lacking a spine, but more importantly pointed out that his refusal to deny that the coronavirus is a hoax “also compounds the misinformation coming from the
@realDonaldTrump Administration on an issue of life and death.”

Many of his followers agree.

Can we have one normal day in this country?

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*First Published: February 28, 2020, 2:19 pm