Those of us old enough remember the Watergate Hearings in the 1970s and the famous words about Richard Nixon from Sen. Howard Baker, “What did the President know and when did he know it?”
It turns about Trump and members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence knew plenty about the current Corona Virus crisis well before the public. And, some took care of themselves while their silence will lead to the deaths of their fellow United States citizens. We’ve already learned that Trump knew the potential risks from this virus in January and decided to make it a partisan issue and weaponize it. Whatever changed his mind recently, he has taken it more seriously and has tried to act more presidential about the pandemic.
Unfortunately, others in positions of public trust are failing us. National Public Radio reported Thursday that Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, know the scope and risks of the pandemic in February — the result, says Reuters, of daily and secret briefings his position affords him. On Feb. 27, he briefed a special coterie of his donors and other privileged North Carolinians that the Corona pandemic would mimic that of the 1918 flu pandemic that costs millions of lives worldwide. It gets worse, however; Burr’s behavior is as self-serving as Trumps and other Republicans.
Axios reports that Burr was positioned to sell off stocks in companies most vulnerable to the lockdown and sheltering in place rules for the Covid-19 illness. Burr “dumped between $582,029 and $1.56 million of his stocks on Feb. 13, days after writing a Fox News op-ed that said the U.S. is ‘better prepared than ever before’ to face public health threats like the coronavirus, according to ProPublica.”
As I write this, seething with anger, I am hoping that the big guys in the media — the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, ProPublica and others — are looking at the actions of the committee members. There are seven Democrats on the committee who need the same level of scrutiny as the GOP members. This insider behavior isn’t a partisan issue. It’s an integrity issue — and more.
We need to rephrase Baker’s question for all our public officials, especially the federal ones. And for the Crossroads, we need to have John Cornyn, Ted Cruz and Michael Cloud answer these questions:
• What did you know about the Corona Virus and when did you know it?
• Did you make any personal financial transactions based on insider, Congressional knowledge of the pandemic?
• Why were you quiet about it, like Trump was, until more recently?
Cornyn needs special scrutiny because he is also on the Intelligence Committee and he has made himself party of Trump’s weaponry. Labeling the virus as “Chinese” and associating the Chinese with vermin are ploys right out of Josef Goebbels’ playbook.
We are in serious territory here. Lives are at stake and the public deserves to know exactly what we’re facing and how we’re facing it.