Ernst Has Praised the President’s COVID-19 Response, But Twice “Declined to Answer Questions” Last Week on Audio of Trump Admitting He Misled Americans on COVID-19 Threat

New audio released last night by CNN revealed that in April, President Trump privately disclosed that the coronavirus is a “plague” and “killer” – even as he publicly played down its threat. The audio follows last week’s disturbing report of Trump admitting he purposefully misled the country on the severity of the virus. 

Despite the seriousness of the reports, Senator Joni Ernst, who has defended and praised the President’s handling of COVID-19, has refused to even acknowledge the on-tape admissions. Last week, she dodged questions for two days straight from CNN’s Manu Raju, saying, “I haven’t read it, I haven’t seen it.” 

These new revelations run directly counter to the narrative that Senator Ernst has peddled since the start of the crisis: praising the federal government’s failed response and unapologetically defending her own efforts to downplay the severity of the treat:

  • February 29: Ernst compared COVID-19 to the flu and said that Democrats were “trying to stir up the panic.”
  • March 5: Ernst again compared the virus to the flu, saying, “With the coronavirus, again, it is the flu.”
  • April 23: Ernst claimed that “Iowa has fared pretty well” as the state faced its highest case numbers yet. 
  • May 6: POLITICO reported that Ernst said that Trump has “done a very good job” on handling the coronavirus and was “right on it from day one.”
  • July 5: Ernst hypocritically said that Trump was “stepping forward” in his COVID-19 failure while standing by her criticism of President Obama’s handling of the Ebola crisis.

Meanwhile, Senator Ernst continues to be dogged by state and national headlines and editorials for spreading debunked and dangerous conspiracy theories that downplay the pandemic, and now is refusing to publicly apologize for insulting our frontline health care heroes.

“Even as over 1,200 Iowans have lost their lives to the virus, Senator Ernst continues to play partisan games while ignoring the real threat facing workers, seniors, and families,” said Jeremy Busch, Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson. “Senator Ernst’s inaction, misinformation, and dangerous example have put more Iowans at risk. She must immediately answer for her relentless defense of the administration in light of this latest audio from the President admitting that the federal government left Iowans unprepared for this deadly pandemic.”