QUESTION: Could Donald Trump, Dr. Deborah Birx, the former head of the CDC and several other top government officials be charged with one or more crimes because of their inaction upon the arrival of COVID-19 in this country? Could they?
As a non-lawyer, I have no authoritative answer to that question. But, I believe some smart attorney-types could make a valid case for some sort of prosecution.
This issue has been on my mind since the CNN interview of Dr. Birx and others in the medical field a week or so ago.
At the moment, 550-thousand Americans have died of COVID in just over a year. Did they have to die? Did that many have to die? Could timely medical and political action have saved thousands of that number? If so, why wasn’t that action taken? Given many decision makers knew the actual danger looming over this nation, what legal responsibility do top-level political and medical people have? Was there malfeasance/misfeasance in office? Should there be legal actions taken against those people? Did the political divisions in this country contribute to the deaths of thousands of innocent victims?
For openers, consider Dr. Birk’s statement that, after the first infectious wave, the death toll could have been “substantially reduced.”
She didn’t say it outright, but all her interview remarks seemed to indicate she believed there was negligent management of the pandemic by Trump - that he had a willingness to put economic and political goals above science and the nation’s well-being.
Birx’s anguish was apparent throughout the interview. Especially when she acknowledged “There were about a hundred-thousand deaths that came from the original surge. All the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”
For someone at the top of the administration, as the COVID advisor to the President at the time, that’s one helluva statement.
So is this: “All deaths over the first hundred-thousand could have been mitigated.” “ALL!”
Birx seemed to be making a public confession of sorts - an unburdening of her conscience tinged with some acknowledgment of her own role in the fiasco.
She also said some scientific colleagues understood the magnitude of the looming crisis but “some White House officials refused to take it seriously.” She added, “Some were fatalistic about what could be done.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, participating in the same interview, said Trump’s demands to reopen the country, despite all the advice from leading government health authorities, came as “a punch in the chest.”
As I acknowledged at the top, I’m no lawyer. But, that interview hour seemed to lay out material that could be actionable on several fronts.
Then, there’s this. Millions in this country don’t trust government at any level. They turn a deaf ear to professional advice on almost any subject if it’s government-related. Many Americans actually fear government and believe they have to be prepared to defend themselves against it.
So, did that play any part in letting COVID ravage this nation? Did their refusal to wear masks, distance themselves from others and ignoring advice coming from Birx, Fauci and top federal health agencies play a role in worsening the fight and, in so doing, contribute to the deaths of thousands of their fellow countrymen and women? Did Trump’s public avoidance of any sort of protection against COVID lead millions of his admirers to follow suit?
I’ve laid out a lot of material here. I’ve asked a lot of questions. The point being, just ridding ourselves of this COVID scourge doesn’t end the terrible saga. When over half-a-million Americans have died and millions of others have been sickened - when those who died had to do so alone and without family - when costs of care have driven thousands of fellow citizens into bankruptcy - when political leaders failed to be responsible - when needless suffering and death were allowed to prevail because of governmental inaction - how do we resolve what’s happened?
Do we turn our collective backs on all of the death and destruction? Or, do we take action against those who willingly ignored professional advice for their own interests - political or otherwise? Do we hold those who failed their responsibilities to walk away as if nothing had happened? Do we seek justice for those who died needlessly?
I can’t get Dr. Birx words - almost a confession - out of my head. I’m filled with the need to seek redemptive action for all that’s happened in the last year. Those thousands who died needlessly deserve our best efforts.