It does not help to keep these stories relevant that a new Donald Trump barbarity or scandal crops up virtually every day, sucking up the entire news oxygen supply. Both the media and public cannot seem to get enough of his continual misconduct.
While investigations of his statutory crimes keep mounting, lost in all of this is his greatest crime, one that has generated no investigation, zero potential prosecution and not anything close to accountability: his colossal mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic, the most incompetent presidential performance in American history.
More than 93 million Americans have thus far contracted Covid and more than a million Americans have died, a number that exceeds the death toll of any other nation and one that could have been much smaller if Trump had acted like a normal concerned and responsible president. But operating that way was beyond both his interest and his capabilities. Instead, he immediately politicized the virus to the detriment of all. Initially, he did this by denying its pandemic potential despite revealing to Bob Woodward that he knew all along how dangerous the bug was. He followed that by blaming China for it and employing pejoratives like “China Virus” and “Kung Flu,” heedless that such racist terminology could (and did) unleash violence against Asian-Americans. He endorsed snake oil therapies including dangerous acts such as ingesting bleach. He disdained masking and social distancing, setting a catastrophic example that ended up killing many of his followers and others. When he himself contracted Covid-19, however, he was treated with all of the latest and best scientifically vetted therapies, including some not available to the general public that he consigned to hospitalization and death. Once the vaccines became available, he equivocated about recommending them (despite taking them himself), thus fueling a disinformation campaign that will linger long after Trump leaves the scene.
We have all suffered from his inability to handle the pandemic maturely and responsibly. Moreover, the lasting effect of his chaotic approach and the nonsense he spouted is widespread lack of trust in public health and our healthcare institutions. Additionally, Trump’s invigorating of what had been a small anti-vaccination extremist movement is now paying negative dividends in the battle against the re-emergence of the polio virus.
This is criminally negligent behavior of the worst sort. Unfortunately, our criminal codes do not contain provisions covering something so unprecedented and unanticipated.
Given that the criminal justice system cannot hold Trump accountable, we might turn to the civil process. In the ideal world, the courts would certify a class action encompassing survivors of Covid victims who died because they believed and acted upon Trump’s baloney about ingesting bleach, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, oleandrin, ivermectin and the other quack therapies he pushed. Getting sued by a class numbering in the millions won’t put him in jail, but might bankrupt him and leave him begging for handouts.
August 27, 2022