(Brownstone Institute) — One reporter has proven brave enough not to take the deal. The deal is: you can interview Trump provided you don’t ask perfectly obvious questions about his COVID response that shredded the Bill of Rights, wrecked his presidency, enabled mass mail-in ballots, elevated agencies to the status of dictators, and kicked off the biggest national crisis of our lifetimes from which we aren’t even close to recovering.
We still do not know when or if we will get the Constitution back. Inflation still rages, education nationwide is slipping more by the day, there is a resulting crime epidemic, and the cultural demoralization is like nothing we’ve ever seen – which is what happens when leaders dare to imagine that their power and prowess is some kind of match for the microbial kingdom.
We’ve watched in amazement as myriad reporters have entirely avoided the topic, including the otherwise intrepid Tucker Carlson and Glenn Beck. This is because Trump forbids it and it is where he is most vulnerable. He wants it to go away, while many people on the center-left let him off the hook because they approve of how he handled COVID. As a result, the country and the world are not getting anything close to the answers we seek.
Finally, Megyn Kelly stepped up and did it. She barely scratched the surface. She didn’t know the right follow up questions. She let him get away with nonsense. But the interview is still notable, at least a beginning. She is the first to have begun the grilling process.
This isn’t really just about placing personal blame, as much as he deserves it. Everyone has a right to know what happened to their basic rights and liberties. We need to know why the churches, schools, and businesses were closed at the urging of the White House. We need to know why we faced travel restrictions, why government printed and spent multiple trillions that produced crushing inflation, why the hospitals were shut to elective surgeries and diagnostics, and how it came to be that the fourth branch of government – the administrative state – became the only government in the last year of his term and largely remains so today.
The government was under the leadership of Donald Trump. He greenlighted the entire thing, starting on March 12, 2020, with his travel restrictions against Europe and the U.K., continuing the next day with his state of emergency that put the National Security Council in charge of a virus, and continuing the next day with his edict that “bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be closed.”
When Fauci read those words from the podium on March 16, 2020, Trump pretended not to be paying much attention. Someone got his attention in the room and he waved and smiled, even as millions of businesses were wrecked and the whole of our lives upended.
Fauci – behind the scenes it was Dr. Deborah Birx and her sponsor – presided as the head of government for weeks, then months, then long after the election was declared for Joseph Biden. When Megyn Kelly pointed out that Trump made Fauci a star, he asked “You think so?” and then feigned a brief moment of internal reflection.
There ought to be some other phrase than “rewriting history.” This is Orwellian gaslighting on a different level, as if Trump truly believes that he can reconstruct reality based on what he wants to be true rather than what everyone knows to be true and all facts point to as true.
There are so many questions crying out for answers. In this interview, however, he says that he left it up to the states under a federalist idea. This is the line bandied about in Mar-a-Lago and no one around him dares question it.
It is demonstrably untrue. The one state that stayed almost entirely open – South Dakota – was in defiance of the White House in doing so. The first state to open up after that was Georgia under Governor Kemp, whom Trump blasted for the decision. Moreover, Trump has repeatedly bragged about how he shut down the country, as if that makes him awesome.
Even his discussion of which governors did well is disingenuous. The sole basis of his reasoning is a loyalty test, detached from the substance of COVID policies. He celebrates South Dakota’s Kristi Noem and South Carolina’s Henry McMaster because they have endorsed him for the 2024 election. Meanwhile, he derides the two governors who received the most backlash for opening up their states, Georgia’s Brian Kemp and Florida’s Ron DeSantis.
Kemp drew the ire of Trump when he refused to support claims of voter fraud in 2020. Trump unsuccessfully attempted to get Kemp out of office by endorsing challenger David Purdue in the Georgia gubernatorial primary. DeSantis has challenged Trump’s re-election, which led Trump to argue that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “did better” on the pandemic response than DeSantis.
For Trump, there is no prospect of sustained self-reflection. There is no nuance or comparative analysis. The conversation is not about federalism or civil servants; it is about loyalty to himself and his campaign.
— 🇺🇸@SUSYKOOL/ZEOLIARMY🇮🇹🤌🏼🇺🇸 🏼 (@sianetta) May 24, 2023
Even in this interview, he again claims that he did everything right, even upping the names of lives he saved from 5 to 10 to 100 million, while ignoring vaccine injuries and deaths to say nothing of deaths of despair and suicides or the lifespan loss that massively accelerated since his lockdowns.
Trump: “I never got the credit that I deserved on COVID.”
— Justin Hart (@justin_hart) September 14, 2023
As for the award to Fauci, his commendation was not only for him but also for Deborah Birx and all her cohorts. In the interview, he claims that he did not do this.
This was only the beginning of the dissembling, and only the beginning of the questions. And we need much more than a deep inquiry of Trump himself. There are dozens of officials involved and many agencies. We need a genuine commission and it needs to last for years. We cannot continue with these absurd lies that are nothing but an insult to the intelligence of any informed American.
Everything he said in this interview on this point is false. He is lying to the public and probably to himself. The truth is that he attempted to shut down the country, blasted governments that opened, criticized Sweden for its response, backed multiple gargantuan spending bills while intimidating the one lawmaker who wouldn’t vote for them, and kept Fauci and his crew in their positions even while hosting Scott Atlas around the White House while getting nightly earfuls of truth.
Once his error became unbearably obvious, he washed his hands of it.
This remains his approach today.
The decision to lock down, about which he has repeatedly bragged for three and a half years, seems to have taken place on March 10, 2020. Why did he take this approach? The feeling in the entire country was absolutely of martial law. We did not know what the law was, who was enforcing it, and what the penalties would be for non-compliance. This was true from coast to coast. This was the dystopian reality that Trump enabled and backed in speech after speech.
Trump seems to have developed some doubts about lockdowns during the summer months of 2020 but even in January the following year, his administration was sending missives to Florida demanding the implementation of “effective face masking (two or three ply and well-fitting) and strict physical distancing.”
Trump administration’s report to DeSantis advised in January 2021, “Florida must increase both statewide and local public mitigation. Increase communication around the importance of personal mitigation with masking, physical distancing, and avoiding family gatherings.” pic.twitter.com/pPe7aewVV6
— Vince in Arizona (@VinceinArizona) September 7, 2023
For more than three years, there have been burning questions about Trump’s role and precisely why this hell was visited upon us. It will undoubtedly be studied for years. More frustrating still has been the general unwillingness even to ask questions of the great/evil man whom Republicans cheer and Democrats loathe.
It so happens that Republicans generally despise the lockdowns and tax-funded jabs that their champion embraced, while Democrats embrace the lockdowns and jabs that their enemy made possible. This strangely triangulated reality has created the intellectual gridlock that has frozen serious investigation and discussion of the most important policy decisions of our lives, ones on which our entire way of life hinges.
Megyn Kelly is to be commended for having the tenacity to begin the discussion. May it only be the beginning and not merely another brief and truncated sop thrown to those of us who stand on the outside crying out for more answers and accountability.
P.S Here is the response by Ron DeSantis:
Stop what you’re doing and watch this.
🔥 DESANTIS GOES OFF on Trump’s false attacks over COVID and his many excuses for not firing Anthony Fauci:
Trump “used to praise Florida for having been open. He used to say I was one of the country’s great governors. He said we handled… pic.twitter.com/ydphVZmYTg
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) September 14, 2023
Reprinted with permission from the Brownstone Institute.