A top House Democrat tore into Republican lawmakers for “totally irresponsible behavior” after GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday but made false accusations against Republicans.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, told reporters that Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, worked out at the House gym and attended a hearing with Attorney General William Barr after testing positive for the virus. Later in the press call, Hoyer tried to clarify his statement by saying incorrectly that it was Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, who earlier this year worked out at the Senate gym after receiving a positive diagnosis.
“Rand Paul tested positive,” Hoyer said. “After being tested positive went to the Senate gym.”
The statements about Gohmert and Paul are not true.
Gohmert first tested positive for the virus Wednesday morning at the White House ahead of a trip he planned to make with President Trump aboard Air Force One. The test was performed one day after Gohmert appeared at a House Judiciary Committee hearing featuring Attorney General William Barr. Gohmert walked down a hallway behind Barr and spoke to him briefly at least one time outside the hearing room.
Barr said he’ll be tested for the coronavirus now that Gohmert has been diagnosed with it.
Paul, a physician, immediately quarantined himself after learning of his diagnosis on March 22. Prior to his test, Paul worked out at the gym and, days earlier, attended a Senate lunch with fellow Republicans. Paul said he had no symptoms of illness at the time.
Reporters on the call on Wednesday tweeted Hoyer’s accusations about Gohmert and Paul and then tweeted his attempt to correct his first statement despite dozens of easily accessible news stories about the timing of Paul’s coronavirus diagnosis in March that disproved Hoyer’s statement.
An aid to Paul tweeted at the time that the lawmaker “left the Senate IMMEDIATELY upon learning of his diagnosis.”
Gohmert chief of staff Connie Hair said the lawmaker has been and remains asymptomatic. Gohmert donned an N95 mask after learning of his diagnosis Wednesday morning at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which followed a positive rapid test at the White House. Gohmert returned to the Capitol to collect his belongings while wearing the mask. His staff at the time were exiting the office to get tested themselves.
Nobody in Gohmert’s office has symptoms of the virus, and Gohmert is in his car, driving back to Texas where he will remain quarantined but will continue working, Hair said.
Hair said Gohmert has been “generally wearing a mask for the last few weeks” and said Gohmert believes the mask contributed to his diagnosis because he was forced to touch his face to adjust it frequently. Hair pointed out that Gohmert would walk down hallways with the mask pulled down if he was distant from others and noted other lawmakers follow the same practice.
Democrats and some media outlets accused Gohmert of refusing to wear a mask in the Capitol and at the Judiciary Committee hearing with Barr on Tuesday. Gohmert wore a mask except when he was speaking, a practice followed by other lawmakers. A news outlet tweeted incorrectly that Gohmert was chastised by Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler for not wearing a mask in the hearing room.
Hair said Gohmert was not even sitting on the dais when Nadler made the criticism.
“What a liar you are,” Hair tweeted in response to a Politico tweet accusing Gohmert of attending the hearing unmasked. “He was NOT admonished for not wearing a mask because he wore a mask at the hearing, unless he was speaking, and has been wearing one which ensures that you touch things and adjust the mask and whatever you might have touched stays on the mask to infect you.”
Hoyer, during the press call, correctly noted that Gohmert put the mask on after entering the hearing room.
Gohmert was not wearing a mask when he exited the hearing room and was more than 6 feet behind Barr.
Barr’s chief of staff said she was unsure whether Gohmert was wearing a mask when he spoke to Barr at arm’s length prior to the hearing.
Democrats and some members of the media have criticized some Republicans who refuse to wear masks at least some of the time in the Capitol.
The group includes Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Ted Yoho of Florida, and several others. All lawmakers generally wear masks in the hearing rooms because they are required, and Democrats who run the panels will not call on members not wearing them. Masks are not required on the House floor.
“I’m concerned about the irresponsible behavior of many of the Republicans who have chosen to consistently flout well-established public health guidance, perhaps out of fealty to their boss, Donald Trump, who is the head of the anti-mask movement in America,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries told reporters on Wednesday.
Gohmert initially did not wear a mask in the Capitol and told CNN in a June interview that he was frequently tested for the virus and would wear one if he tested positive.
Trump was recently photographed in a mask at Walter Reed and tweeted that the public should wear masks.
Author: Susan Ferrechio
Source: Washington Examiner: Democrats attack GOP lawmakers over coronavirus safety but get the facts wrong