Kamala Harris accuses Mike Pence of COVID 'cover-up' in debate

BREAKING NEWS: Kamala Harris accuses Mike Pence of COVID ‘cover-up’ as she lashes Trump administration record on pandemic at vice presidential debate – and he hits back accusing her of fueling anti-vaccine fears

  • The Vice Presidential debate, moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page, kicked off in Salt Lake City, Utah, Wednesday, night between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris 
  • Pence and Harris met on a plexiglass-protected stage, after President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, with coronavirus being the first issue up for debate 
  • ‘Here’s the thing, on January 28th, the vice president and the president were informed about the nature of this pandemic,’ Harris said. ‘They knew and they covered it up. The president said it was a hoax’ 
  • Pence refuted Harris’ claims that the Trump administration has failed the American people, saying, ‘From the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of Americans first’
  • Page asked Pence how the administration can be an authority on COVID-19 after hosting a so-called ‘superspreader’ event to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett 
  • ‘The work of the president of the United States goes on,’ Pence answered. ‘If we may say that Rose Garden event. There’s been a great deal of speculation about it,’ adding that it was an outdoor event 
  • Having the plexiglass onstage is a constant reminder of the coronavirus pandemic, safety precautions Pence’s team pushed back on Tuesday   
  • The debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the first and only time the vice-presidential candidates will go head-to-head  

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris accused Vice President Mike Pence of a COVID ‘cover-up’ in the opening minutes of Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah.

‘Here’s the thing, on January 28th, the vice president and the president were informed about the nature of this pandemic,’ Harris said. ‘They knew and they covered it up. The president said it was a hoax.’

Pence slapped back and said the plans the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and Harris were touting to deal with the coronavirus looked a lot like what the White House coronavirus taskforce was already doing.

‘It looks a little bit like plagiarism, which is a little something Joe Biden knows a little bit about,’ Pence said.

He also shamed Harris for fueling anti-vax sentiment, calling it ‘unconscionable.’

She had told the small, socially distant audience that, ‘If Dr. Fauci, if doctors tell us to take it I will be the first in line to take it, absolutely. But if Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.’

Pence accused her of continuing to ‘undermine public confidence in a vaccine.’

‘Senator, I just ask you, stop playing politics with people’s lives,’ Pence said. 

 Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris opened Wednesday night’s Vice Presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the issue of COVID-19


Harris accused Pence of a COVID ‘cover-up’ in the opening minutes of Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah 

The debate, moderated by Susan Page of USA Today, saw the candidates seated on a plexiglass-protected stage, after President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis

The debate saw the candidates seated on a plexiglass-protected stage, after President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. Harris is the first woman of color to ever appear on a major party’s presidential ticket 

Harris opened up by pointing out the 210,000 Americans dead, the 7million infected, the one in five businesses closed and the 30 million unemployed. She accused the White House of treating frontline workers like ‘sacrificial’ workers

Pence slapped back and said the plans the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and Harris were touting to deal with the coronavirus looked a lot like what the White House coronavirus taskforce was already doing. ‘It looks a little bit like plagiarism, which is a little something Joe Biden knows a little bit about,’ Pence said

THE BEST LINES FROM THE VP HEAD-TO-HEAD

Kamala Harris on the coronavirus

They knew and they covered it up. The president said it was a hoax. This administration has forfeited their right to reelection based on this

Mike Pence on Democrats’ COVID plan

It looks a little bit like plagiarism which is a little something Joe Biden knows a little bit about

Harris on the COVID response 

I want to ask you: how calm were you when you were hunting for toilet paper? How calm were you when your children couldn’t see your parents because you were afraid they could kill them?

Pence on why no-one wore masks at Rose Garden super-spreader  

The difference here is President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interest of their health

Harris on Trump’s taxes 

We now know because of great investigative journalism that Donald Trump paid $750 in taxes. When I first heard about it, I literally said, you mean $750,000? And it was like no, $750 

Pence on economic plans 

America, you just heard Senator Harris tell you, on day one, Joe Biden is going to raise your taxes

Harris on Trump fighting to end Obamacare

If you have a pre-existing condition, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, they are coming for you. If you love someone who has a pre-existing condition, they are coming for you. If you are under the age of 26 on your parents’ coverage, they’re coming for you

Harris deals with interruptions

Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking

Susan Page on stopping Pence going over time

Mr. Vice President, I didn’t create the rules for tonight. Your campaigns agreed to them. I’m here to enforce them

Harris opened up by pointing out the 210,000 Americans dead, the 7million infected, the one in five businesses closed and the 30 million unemployed. She accused the White House of treating frontline workers like ‘sacrificial’ workers.

‘This administration has forfeited their right to re-election based on this,’ the California senator said. 

She recalled how journalist Bob Woodward’s reporting had unearthed that the president wanted to downplay – which he said was to keep Americans calm.

‘I want to ask the American people, how, were you when you were panicked about where to get you next roll of toilet paper? How calm were you when your kids were sent home from school and you didn’t know when they would go back?’ she asked. 

Debate moderator Susan Page asked Pence how the administration can be an authority on COVID-19 after hosting a so-called ‘superspreader’ event to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett. President Donald Trump remains infected with COVID-19.

‘The work of the president of the United States goes on,’ Pence answered. ‘If we may say that Rose Garden event. There’s been a great deal of speculation about it.’

Pence pointed out that it was an outdoor event, which experts have said are safer – but the White House event lacked proper social distancing and most attendees refused to wear masks.

‘The difference here was that President Trump makes the American people to make the choices in the best interest of their health,’ Pence said. 

The vice president also said, ‘The American people have the right to know about the health and well-being of their president, and we’ll continue to do that.’

He took a minute to thank Americans for their wishes and prayers for Trump during his Walter Reed hospitalization. ‘I’m just extremely grateful and was more than a little moved by the broad and bipartisan support,’ he said.

‘And senator, I want to thank you and Joe Biden for your expressions of genuine concern,’ Pence said. ‘And I also want to congratulate you as I did on that phone call on the historic nation of your nomination.’

Harris is the first woman of color to ever appear on a major party’s presidential ticket.   

She looked to the last Democratic administration, when Pence – like Trump earlier Wednesday – continued to blame the coronavirus on China.

‘There’s a weird obsession President Trump has had with getting rid of whatever accomplishment was achieved by President Obama and Vice President Biden,’ she said.

‘For example, they created within the White House an office that basically was responsible for monitoring pandemics. They got rid of it,’ Harris said.

Pence, seated through two plexiglass shields away from her, said, ‘not true,’ under his breath.

The debate saw the candidates seated on a plexiglass-protected stage, after President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.


Harris opened up by pointing out the 210,000 Americans dead, the 7million infected, the one in five businesses closed and the 30 million unemployed. She accused the White House of treating frontline workers like ‘sacrificial’ workers

Debate moderator Susan Page asked Pence how the administration can be an authority on COVID-19 after hosting a so-called ‘superspreader’ event to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett. President Donald Trump remains infected with COVID-19

‘I want to ask the American people, how, were you when you were panicked about where to get you next roll of toilet paper? How calm were you when your kids were sent home from school and you didn’t know when they would go back?’ Harris asked

Pence said that the Democrats’ COVID plan ‘looks a little bit like plagiarism which is a little something Joe Biden knows a little bit about’

Moderator Susan Page, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief, struggled to keep candidates stay within the allotted time for each response 

There was a small, socially distant audience in attendance at Wednesday night’s debate and masks were required for all audience members 

The plexiglass on stage gets a final inspection and polish during preparations for the Vice Presidential debate between Republican nominee

Pence and Harris met on a plexiglass-protected stage, after President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis 

Pence brought murdered ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller’s parents to the debate – the same day two of her alleged torturers were indicted in the U.S., raising questions on whether the charges were timed to help the VP. 

Axios first reported Carl and Marsha Mueller would be Pence’s guests, as he debates Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris Wednesday night from Salt Lake City. 

The report came out on the heels of one-half of the so-called ‘Beatles’ ISIS fighters –  Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh – being charged with a slew of crimes related to Kayla Mueller and journalist James Foley’s deaths.  

Harris planned to bring two up-and-coming Utah Democratic politicians as her guests.    

Having the Muellers at his side will allow Pence to hit Harris on Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s time in office – as they’ve blamed him and President Barack Obama for failing to save Kayla Mueller’s life.   

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is seen in the audience he waits to watch Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence debate

The debate hall at the University of Utah took precautions including a limited, socially distanced, audie co are seen with masks as they wait to watch Wednesday night’s debate

Initially, Pence’s team objected to Harris’ request for plexiglass barriers, arguing it was medically unnecessary. But the Commission on Presidential Debates had already agreed to the barriers, and Pence’s aides said their presence wouldn’t dissuade him from attending the event

A supporter of President Donald Trump holds a banner before the vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris

‘I think she’ll do well,’ Democratic nominee Joe Biden told reporters as he entered Wilmington’s Queen theater Wednesday in the hours before his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, hits the debate stage 

Across-the-aisle, the Trump-Pence campaign was deploying the same strategy and touting Harris’ ability to debate. 

‘Kamala Harris has been around the debate stage,’ the Trump campaign’s Communications Director Tim Murtaugh said on Fox News Channel Tuesday. ‘She was in the U.S. Senate. They debate there all the time. Remember, she was a prosecutor.’ 

Biden himself shouted: ‘I think she’ll do well,’ as he entered Wilmington’s Queen theater on Wednesday to tape digital content for the campaign.  

With the Trump campaign taking on water, Pence’s job Wednesday night will be to keep things afloat.     

Pence was also seated front row at a Gold Star families event Sunday, September 27 where at least one person has tested positive for COVID-19. The vice president, however, wasn’t seated close enough to the individual for him to fall under CDC’s quarantine guidelines 

The White House put out two health updates on Pence Tuesday, one from his doctor and one from CDC Director Robert Redfield, explaining that none of the people the vice president interacted were ‘close contacts’ despite him being in the Rose Garden on September 26 

Kingsbury Hall, at the University of Utah, is decorated with banners prior to Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate, which will take place inside the building 

On Wednesday morning, Democrats were playing the expectations game, in case Harris stumbled at the debate like 2016 vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine did four years before. 

‘Tonight we do expect Mike Pence to have a good debate. He has a history of being a successful debater,’ said Symone Sanders of the Biden campaign on a call with reporters. ‘He was a talk show host. So, look, we are not coming in underestimating him.’ 

Sen. Cory Booker – a Senate colleague of Harris’ and a former 2020 competitor – also hinted the Salt Lake City debate could be a draw. 

‘We know that Vice President Mike Pence is a formidable debater and we know that tonight is a challenge for those who love and know Kamala,’ Booker said. 

The New Jersey Democrat also pointed out the historic nature of the event, as Harris is the first woman of color to appear on a major party’s presidential ticket. 

‘Her ancestors are celebrating,’ he said on the call with Sanders. ‘There are many children, as I’ve sent her pictures of friends of mine who have sent me pictures of black and Indian girls rapt by the TV watching Kamala.’ 

‘This is going to be one of those nights that’s going to reverberate in many ways,’ he added.  

Carl (left) and Marsha Mueller (right) were the guests of Vice President Mike Pence at the vice presidential debate. Here they hold up a photo of their murdered daughter Kayla Mueller while speaking at the Republican National Convention in August 

The report that the Muellers would be Pence’s guests came on the heels of ISIS fighters Alexanda Amon Kotey (left) and El Shafee Elsheikh (right) being flown to the U.S. and indicted on crimes associated with Mayla Mueller’s and journalist James Foley’s deaths 

Pence had traveled to Salt Lake City Monday in advance of his doctor releasing a statement explaining why the vice president was cleared to go after appearing at events where officials have since tested positive – including the September 26 Rose Garden ceremony where Trump announced his selection of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. 

He also appeared at an event Sunday for Gold Star families where at least one individual tested positive.  

‘Vice President Mike Pence is not a close contact with any individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, including President Donald J. Trump and senior members of the White House administration, according to the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control.’ 

‘Vice President Mike Pence is encouraged to go about his normal activities and does not need to quarantine,’ Pence’s physician, Dr Jesse Schonau, said. 

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