Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said the reason the U.S. is in a crisis is not because of what China or WHO did, it is because of President Trump not taking the coronavirus seriously. Tuesday on CNN, Murphy praised WHO for investing in testing and said if the U.S. worked with the WHO early on, "we might be in a very different position here." He called the organization a "scapegoat" for Trump and warned the nation will be weaker without them.
"You believe that the president made mistakes that ended up costing lives?" CNN host Anderson Cooper asked the Senator.
"Absolutely," Murphy said. "The fact that we didn't start buying up medical supplies, masks, gowns, face shields early on, when we were begging for that funding in early February. The fact that the president didn't put in place an effective plan to develop new tests. The fact that he didn't work with governors and mayors to push social distancing measures earlier has cost lives."
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Senator Murphy, I want to read you a tweet that you tweeted out February 5th about the White House's response at that time. You said, "Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus. Bottom-line, they aren't taking this seriously enough. Notably, no request for any emergency funding which is a big mistake. Local health systems need supplies, training, screening, staff et cetera. And they need it now." What did you see in the medium, what was the problem?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, that was an extraordinary montage that you just played and that attitude was reflected in the meeting, inside that meeting in early February, where the President's top Coronavirus experts. It was led by then-Chief of Staff Mulvaney and Secretary of HHS Alex Azar and they were just incredibly confident that they had beaten Coronavirus. At that time, they were only a few cases here, they were reflecting what the President said in those clips because they thought that the travel bans have kept it out of the United States.
We told them that they needed money and they needed money fast in order to buy supplies, in order to hire more staff and they told us that they didn't need any funding, that they had everything that they needed. And I walked out of that closed-door briefing just with chills running down my spine because many of us on both sides of the aisle knew what this virus had done in China.
We knew it was a matter of time before it arrived here and it was shocking how cavalier the Administration was. This was at a time when the President really, you know, viewed this as a hoax. He said so on TV and the reason that we're in the crisis that we are today, is not because of anything that China did.
It's not because of anything that the WHO did. It's because of what this president did. He didn't take this virus seriously. We weren't going to be able to keep every case out of United States, but we didn't need tens of thousands this of people dying.
COOPER: It's clear that the WHO has said very positive things about China and kind of downplayed, you know, their lack of transparency. Even the Chinese death tolls, you know, right now just seems ludicrously low, the official death toll in China. I'm wondering what you make of the president now focusing on WHO, though he previously had praised them for -- China for transparency and the WHO's work.
MURPHY: Well, pulling money out of the WHO has nothing to do with keeping America safe. It's all about the president's attempt to try to find scapegoats. Let's be clear. Early on in this crisis, there was no bigger cheerleader for China and their response to coronavirus than president Donald J. Trump. It was President Trump who on 12 different occasions praised President Xi's efforts to control coronavirus, specifically praised China's transparency, which we now know was a complete joke.
And so the president is engaging in, you know, sort of middle school grade deflection trying to blame the WHO for something that he was responsible for. And the fact of the matter is, while the WHO is imperfect, in the early days of the virus, they invested in testing. They created by the end of February 1.4 million tests in collaboration with a German manufacturer.
And so had we been working with the WHO early on, we might be in a very different position here, being able to test twice as many, three times as many people as we have. We'll be weaker as a nation if we pull out of the WHO because there's no way to stand up an effective anti-pandemic program without them. This is just about the president's attempts to try to blame others for problems that he created.