Donald Trump is ending his presidency marred by a new election scandal and continued mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Any of this familiar?” wrote Ashish K. Jha, a medical doctor, on Twitter.
He was comparing the national COVID-19 testing debacle, and now the scramble to distribute and administer a potentially life-saving vaccine.
The Trump administration promised that 20 million people would be vaccinated by the end of the year. But the actual number was around one-tenth of that.
The effort represents the same shuffle-the-deck mismanagement that marked testing. The Feds are deflecting to the states, which are putting the onus on overworked hospitals to get the vaccine into people’s arms.
Bureaucratic red tape is part of the problem.
A two-day US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirement to assess each shipment of vaccine for quality control has slowed down distribution, according to CNN.
“To be sure, many states are taking real responsibility LOTS of overburdened public health folks are still making this work. Heroically But now hospitals trying to figure out where to set up vaccination sites. And folks sorting out who can do vaccinations in care facilities,” wrote Jha.
The problem, he noted, “appears to be no investment or plan in the last mile [and] no effort from Feds to help states launch a real vaccination infrastructure.
“Public health has always been a state/federal partnership. States are stretched. Feds are suppose to help. But same folks who blamed states for testing mess now ready to blame states for vaccine slowdown They are again setting states up to fail.”
Meanwhile, Trump is nowhere in sight on the issue. To the contrary, he continues to call the pandemic “fake news” on Twitter.
The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of @CDCgov’s ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely, very inaccurately and low. “When in doubt, call it Covid.” Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2021
Trump on Sunday (Jan. 3) said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led by his own appointees, is publishing inaccurate coronavirus cases and death rates.
He called the numbers “far exaggerated,” a claim disputed by Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health experts.
Fauci appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” the same day and directly refuted the president. “The numbers are real,” he pronounced.
NEW: Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to Pres. Trump’s morning tweet on COVID-19 related deaths: “The deaths are real deaths. All you need to do is go out into the trenches… that’s real, that’s not fake.” https://t.co/kKafPs2tFM pic.twitter.com/84ypgvOcl1
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 3, 2021
Health experts for months have said case and death toll rates are actually much higher than known.
“All you need to do is go out into the trenches,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” also on Sunday.
“Go to the hospitals and see what the healthcare workers are dealing with. They are under very stressful situations in many areas of the country. The hospital beds are stretched, people are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel who are exhausted.”
“That’s real,” Fauci asserted. “That’s not fake. That’s real.”
Trump’s remarks come just as the number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States surpassed 350,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, the president has been obsessed with overturning certified election results that showed President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election.
After more than 60 failed legal challenges, many before judges he appointed, the president also lost two cases before the Supreme Court.
With his legal options foreclosed, Trump attempted to strong-arm Georgia election officials into changing votes to give him a victory.
An hour-long call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger mirrored his attempt to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating Biden during the election.
The latter resulted in Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives. He was acquitted in a Senate trial.
Legal scholars described the Georgia call as a flagrant abuse of power and a potential criminal act, according to The Washington Post.
Trump went so far as to flatter, beg and threaten Raffensperger with potential criminal charges, if he refused to pursue false claims of election fraud.
Then, he suggested simply “recalculating” votes to precisely give him 11,780 votes, just enough to carry the state.
“There’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated,” Trump said.
“Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong,” Raffensperger replied.
“So what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break,” Trump cajoled.
Raffensperger told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that an Atlanta-area district attorney’s office could investigate the Trump’s phone call.
“I understand that the Fulton County district attorney wants to look at it. Maybe that’s the appropriate venue for it to go,” he said.
Georgia State Election Board member David Worley, who supports President-elect Biden, asked Raffensperger to open an investigation into the call, according to The New York Times.
With a little over two weeks left in his term, Trump’s last gasp effort to overturn the election will come Jan. 6 when Congress convenes to certify Electoral College votes.
Although the effort has traditionally been symbolic Republicans in the House and Senate plan to protest the votes. But they lack majority support in both houses to stop the certification.
Beside the potential Georgia investigation, Trump is also facing a civil and a criminal investigation in New York when he leaves office– an ignoble end to his presidency.