While Democrats were diverting the attention and energy of the entire country into a pointless trial that could not possibly have ended in anything other than President Donald Trump’s acquittal, the coronavirus pandemic was beginning in China and arriving in the United States.
- January 11: Chinese state media report the first known death from an illness originating in the Wuhan market.
- January 15: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a vote to send articles of impeachment to the Senate. Pelosi and House Democrats celebrate the “solemn” occasion with a signing ceremony, using commemorative pens.
- January 21: The first person with coronavirus arrives in the United States from China, where he had been in Wuhan.
- January 23: The House impeachment managers make their opening arguments for removing President Trump.
- January 23: China closes off the city of Wuhan completely to slow the spread of coronavirus to the rest of China.
- January 30: Senators begin asking two days of questions of both sides in the president’s impeachment trial.
- January 30: The World Health Organization declares a global health emergency as coronavirus continues to spread.
- January 31: The Senate holds a vote on whether to allow further witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial.
- January 31: President Trump declares a national health emergency and imposes a ban on travel to and from China. Former Vice President Joe Biden calls Trump’s decision “hysterical xenophobia … and fear-mongering.”
- February 2: The first death from coronavirus outside China is reported in the Philippines.
- February 3: House impeachment managers begin closing arguments, calling Trump a threat to national security.
- February 4: President Trump talks about coronavirus in his State of the Union address; Pelosi rips up every page.
- February 5: The Senate votes to acquit President Trump on both articles of impeachment, 52-48 and 53-47.
- February 5: House Democrats finally take up coronavirus in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia.
For twenty days, from the day the first death from coronavirus was known, Democrats did nothing about it. They were too busy with the president’s impeachment trial — a trial Pelosi had delayed unnecessarily for several weeks.
To the extent that they commented on coronavirus at all, it was only to tear up the president’s remarks or to call him a racist. They told the nation that he, not coronavirus, was a threat to the national security of the United States.
In the midst of that all-consuming trial, it is remarkable Trump was able to do anything else at all. But he did, and one of the things he did was impose the China travel ban, just one day after the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global health emergency, and the day before the first victim of the pandemic died outside China.
For his trouble, he was criticized by the World Health Organization and called “hysterical” by his future 2020 rival.
When Republicans warned Democrats that impeachment was a waste of time, a divisive partisan exercise, and a distraction from the real issues facing the country — a lesson Republicans learned the hard way, in Bill Clinton’s impeachment, 21 years before — Democrats ignored them.
Just a few weeks later, our divided leaders were taken by surprise by the pandemic, and bickered on cable news, asking why nothing was done sooner.
But we know why.