Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) said Monday that President Trump had “let his guard down” on the coronavirus and created “confusion” about the severity of the pandemic in trying to paint a more rosy picture of the virus.
“I think he let his guard down, and I think in his desire to try to demonstrate that we are somehow coming out of this and that the danger is not still with us — I think he got out over his skis and frankly, I think it’s a lesson to all of us that we need to exercise self discipline,” Cornyn told the Houston Chronicle.
Cornyn’s comments came in response to a question by the paper’s editorial board about Trump often forgoing a mask and holding large events with mostly unmasked guests, including an event announcing Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination held in the White House Rose Garden days before many attendees, including the president, would later announce they had tested positive for the virus.
Senators Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), Mike Lee (R., Utah), and Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) have all tested positive, as well as former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, White House senior aide Hope Hicks, and former adviser Kellyanne Conway.
While the high-ranking Republican Senator said Trump had “demonstrated the seriousness of the virus” in policies such as prohibiting travel from China and supporting coronavirus relief packages, he said the president’s rhetoric on the virus “creates confusion.”
The Republican Senator continued: “He tries to balance that with saying, ‘Well you know, we got this.’ And clearly we don’t have this.”
“I think the biggest mistake people make in public life is not telling the truth, particularly in something with as much public interest as here because you know the real story is going to come out.”
Trump has also mocked Joe Biden for frequently appearing in public with a mask and even did so during the first presidential debate, just three days before he himself tested positive for the virus.
Shortly after the Chronicle published Cornyn’s comments, the president announced he would be leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he has been receiving treatment for the coronavirus since Friday, on Monday evening.
I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2020
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
Cornyn has rarely criticized the president, and even in his comments to the Chronicle ultimately put his support behind Trump, saying: ““If you’re asking me to choose between the policies of a Biden presidency with the pressure he’ll get from the left of his own party … I would vote for the president and his policies.”
The Texas Republican faces a competitive re-election race next month against Democrat MJ Hegar.