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“I Was Wrong”: Mitch McConnell Admits the Obama Administration Did Leave a Pandemic Plan, Which Trump Then Ignored

Mitch McConnell makes a frowny face.

One of the weirdest forms Donald Trump’s coronavirus gaslighting has taken is his frequent denial that Barack Obama’s administration left any sort of pandemic gameplan, which they definitely did and Trump just chose to ignore.

For months, Trump has deflected his own slow response to the spreading virus on the fact that “the cupboards were bare” when he took office, claiming Obama left him with nothing or sometimes less than nothing and that he’s had to build everything up from scratch. He’s used this excuse for a whole range of issues from the economy to the current pandemic and even to the military’s supply of ammunition. It’s never been true but that hasn’t stopped Trump from repeating the blame-shifting claim.

Back in March, Politico reported extensively on the existence of a 69-page document from 2016, which included “hundreds of tactics and key policy decisions” for how to prepare for and respond to the kind of global health pandemic experts were already warning about being on the horizon.

Yet even as recently as this past Monday, Mitch McConnell was defending Trump and repeating his lie. During an appearance at a virtual Trump campaign event, McConnell told Lara Trump that “clearly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like this.”

The Senate Majority Leader also said that President Obama’s recent criticism of Trump’s coronavirus response was “classless.” “I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut,” he told Trump’s daughter-in-law/campaign advisor.

But during an interview with Fox News Thursday, McConnell said three words we rarely hear out of his mouth: “I was wrong.”

“They did leave behind a plan,” he said on-air. “So, I clearly made a mistake in that regard.”

Way to do the bare minimum and acknowledge our shared reality, Mitch!

McConnell’s admission came after immunologist/public health expert/ousted whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright testified before Congress, laying out all the ways in which the Trump administration failed in their response to the pandemic. His testimony was so convincing and so damning that apparently not even Mitch McConnell could keep defending Trump’s lie.

In fact, even Trump himself seemed cornered into admitting there was a plan in place, although his response (via his new Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany) was to dismiss it as a mere “paper packet.”

Even with these forced admissions, it’s not like Mitch McConnell or anyone else here is going to, you know, actually do anything to rectify that mistake. He won’t even go so far as to say Trump did anything wrong.

After he admitted his mistake, McConnell continued, “As to whether or not the plan was followed and who is the critic and all the rest, I don’t have any observation about that because I don’t know enough about the details of it to comment on it in any detail.”

So sure, McConnell managed to clear the bar of our expectations for Republicans’ responses to Trump’s inaction but that’s only because it’s set directly on the floor.

(via Politico, image: SAUL LOEB / AFP)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.