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Senate Minority Whip Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville). (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Pennacchio claims Murphy’s Trump criticism a political cover

President downplayed virus knowing it was grave threat

By Nikita Biryukov, September 10 2020 11:30 am

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) attacked Gov. Phil Murphy over criticism of President Donald Trump’s downplaying the virus when he, by his own admission, knew it to be a grave threat to the country.

“The Governor said he would have been more aggressive if Trump had been more forthcoming on COVID information,” said Pennacchio, an honorary chair of Trump’s New Jersey re-election campaign. “Murphy is one of only five governors in the nation that forced nursing homes to accept COVID patients, exposing healthcare workers and vulnerable residents to infection. He wants to make the President his scapegoat for his own mistakes.”

In reported interviews with Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward conducted in February and March, Trump admitted to knowing the virus was deadly and transmitted through the air even as he publicly downplayed the threat it posed — a tack he maintained for months after the interviews were conducted.

On Wednesday, Murphy took to the airwaves to condemn the president’s lack of candor, claiming it cost lives.

“If we had known that earlier, we would have shut the state meaningfully earlier,” he told CNN. “We would have gone to a mandatory masking policy meaningfully earlier. We would have had a stay at home mandate put in place.”

Pennacchio has for months called for a select committee investigation into the state’s handling of COVID-19 in its nursing and veterans’ homes. While those calls have gone nowhere, Democratic leaders, including Murphy, have promised to conduct a post mortem in the aftermath of the crisis.

“It seems the Democrats have circled the wagons to protect the Governor and his Administration,” Pennacchio said. “Will we need Bob Woodward to write a book before we finally get answers to why we had such carnage in our veterans’ homes and nursing homes?”

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