Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration has repeatedly faced off with local authorities who have dared to implement the stay-at-home orders necessary to stem the spread of the virus. These orders have frequently followed in line with the guidelines from the Trump administration itself, which has called for no gatherings of ten or more people through at least the end of April, but that didn’t stop Trump himself from recently calling on observers to “liberate” certain states. Now, in an interview with the conservative radio program The Hugh Hewitt Show, Attorney General Bill Barr has joined in with outrageous criticism of local stay-at-home orders, suggesting in the process that the Justice Department may, under his leadership, even go after local leaders in court.
Echoing the claims of those who’ve turned out around the U.S. for protests against the Coronavirus-induced social distancing measures, Barr insisted — without any apparent evidence to back him up — that the measures violate Americans’ rights. He insisted:
‘When a governor acts, especially when a governor does something that intrudes upon or infringes on a fundamental right or a Constitutional right, they’re bounded by that. And those situations are emerging around the country, to some extent.’
And thus, he insisted:
‘We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe. To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce — our common market that we have here — then we’ll have to address that.’
Federal authorities have the option to support states who are struggling financially and thereby help keep at least some semblances of stability amidst the crisis. Republicans have largely declined to follow along with that idea, however.
Continuing on the topic of the stay-at-home orders, which the Attorney General ludicrously referred to as “disturbingly close to house arrest,” Barr continued:
‘I’m not saying it wasn’t justified… [But] we didn’t adopt them as the comprehensive way of dealing with this disease. And we are now seeing that these are bending the curve, and now we have to come up with more targeted approaches.’
The “curve” of new Coronavirus cases that Barr notes has been slightly bending downward as the crisis has dragged on is doing so because of the social distancing measures.
Expert after expert, including inside the Trump administration, have insisted that lifting social distancing demands would enact an even more terrible toll than what’s already been experienced. During a White House press conference, President Donald Trump himself stood next to a graphic at one point that indicated a possibility of millions of deaths without social distancing measures, but he and Barr have been lashing out against the measures in the wake of economic inconvenience anyway.
Trump, who has tweeted about his "ratings" 7 times in the last 3 weeks, insists "I don't care about" them. pic.twitter.com/lD0XPFQ6gu
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) April 21, 2020
The president and his allies aren’t just refusing to accept the science of the situation — they’re prioritizing Trump’s public image.
This Tuesday, he tweeted:
‘I’ve had great “ratings” my whole life, there’s nothing unusual about that for me. The White House News Conference ratings are “through the roof”(Monday Night Football, Bachelor Finale , @nytimes ) but I don’t care about that. I care about going around the Fake News to the PEOPLE!’
Obsessively tweeting about ratings remains high on the president’s priorities list amidst the pandemic.
I’ve had great “ratings” my whole life, there’s nothing unusual about that for me. The White House News Conference ratings are “through the roof”(Monday Night Football, Bachelor Finale , @nytimes) but I don’t care about that. I care about going around the Fake News to the PEOPLE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2020