Pelosi Casts the First Coronavirus Stone

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 27.

Photo: erik s lesser/Shutterstock

Nancy Pelosi wasted no time getting to her point in her interview Sunday on CNN. After some wishes about good health, host Jake Tapper asked the House Speaker if she agreed with President Trump’s musings that the national lockdown could end by Easter. Mrs. Pelosi might have disagreed on policy grounds—and later Sunday Mr. Trump extended the social distancing for another month—but instead she tore into Mr. Trump for killing Americans.

“What the President—his denial at the beginning was deadly. His delaying of getting equipment to where—it continues—his delay in getting equipment to where it’s needed is deadly,” she said. “And now I think the best thing would be to do is to prevent more loss of life, rather than open things up,” referring to the possibility of easing social distancing.

“I don’t know what the purpose of that is. I don’t know what the scientists are saying to him. I don’t know what the scientists said to him. When did this President know about this and what did he know? What did he know and when did he know it?” the Speaker added, repeating the most famous line from the impeachment probe of Richard Nixon.

“That’s for an after-action review. But as the President fiddles, people are dying. And we have to—we just have to take every precaution.” First Nixon, then Nero.

Mr. Tapper wanted to make sure he heard that right: “But are you saying that his downplaying ultimately cost American lives?”

Mrs. Pelosi: “Yes, I am.”

The Speaker is a political professional who doesn’t pop off by accident. She clearly went into the interview with a plan to attack Mr. Trump at the start of a week when she knows that the infection and death tolls will mount.

Why go there? The cynical interpretation is that Mrs. Pelosi and her allies have seen the polls that show a majority of the public approves of Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Perhaps she wants to undermine that perception. She may also be sending a message to her left-wing that even if Mr. Trump wins re-election, she will be happy to investigate and impeach him again for his virus response.

Whatever the reason, this was an ugly note when the public wants signs of cooperation across the government—and when Mr. Trump had been praising Democrats in Congress for helping to pass the $2.2 trillion relief bill. He also refrained last week from attacking Mrs. Pelosi for delaying the relief bill to add non-virus earmarks like her $25 million for Washington’s Kennedy Center.

But Mr. Trump can never not respond to an attack and on Monday, after Mrs. Pelosi’s Sunday comments, he hit back in a tweet. That doesn’t help matters at this moment. But remember who cast the first coronavirus stone.

Wonder Land: Rallying the United States through the coronavirus crisis is President Trump’s best path to success come November. Images: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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