"The question of, 'What did they know and when did they know it?' cannot be left to the history books to answer," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said

By Sean Neumann
September 24, 2020 03:20 PM
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and President Donald Trump
| Credit: Stefani Reynolds/Getty; DNCC via Getty; Win McNamee/Getty

Two governors are calling on Congress to launch an investigation into President Donald Trump's "politicization" of the pandemic.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a joint statement on Thursday, asking for a congressional oversight committee to review the Trump administration's response.

"The question of, 'What did they know and when did they know it?' cannot be left to the history books to answer," the governor's joint statement read. "Our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today."

Trump, who has previously launched repeated political attacks against Cuomo and Whitmer during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been widely criticized as having fumbled the country's response to the novel coronavirus. Trump told veteran journalist Bob Woodward that he sought to "downplay" the virus throughout 2020 in recorded interviews dating back to February before federal health officials called for nationwide shutdowns and implemented social distancing guidelines.

The president quickly pushed for state officials to green-light his wish to reopen the economy in March and began openly criticizing Democratic leaders, including Cuomo and Whitmer, for continuing the statewide shutdowns health officials recommended stay in place.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo puts on a mask on May 28
| Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on April 29
| Credit: AP/Shutterstock

Trump, 74, and Cuomo, 62, have traded public jabs over dwindling medical supplies, rising case counts, and their general work ethic.

The president's fervent calls to end state shutdowns—against health officials' ongoing warnings—led to a wave of anti-shutdown protests in the early summer.

In Michigan, anti-shutdown protestors waving "Trump 2020" flags entered the Michigan statehouse with rifles and traded intense standoffs with police inside the state capitol. Outside, some protestors showed up with dolls depicting Whitmer that had nooses around their neck.

“I’m not going to make decisions based on being bullied,” Whitmer, 49, told PEOPLE in June about the threats. “I’m not going to make decisions based on a tweet or a threat.”

President Donald Trump looks at a map of coronavirus cases in the United States during a July COVID-19 briefing at the White House.
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Recently, the Trump administration's handling of the virus has been under further scrutiny.

A Politico report this month showed Trump administration officials have pressured health officials at the Centers for Disease Control to write health reports based on Trump's political agenda rather than science.

In their joint statement, Cuomo and Whitmer also pointed to a Washington Post report that showed the Trump administration blocked a plan in April to send five face masks to each U.S. household in an effort to arm Americans with protection from the novel virus, which has infected nearly seven million people in the U.S., according to a New York Times tracker.

The criticism against Trump's pandemic management has come from inside the White House as well.

A former White House staffer, who helped organize Coronavirus Task Force meetings throughout the pandemic, told The Washington Post this month that Trump showed a "flat out disregard for human life."

Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll surpassed 200,000 this week.

"As a country, we cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root," Cuomo and Whitmer wrote. "Logic dictates that COVID won't be the last public health challenge we will face, and we can't afford to again respond by playing politics, instead of listening to the science and facts."