Same with Arizona's Martha McSally and Colorado's Cory Gardner. Not reading or paying any attention to any news at all has become quite fashionable among Republicans. If you haven't read it or listened to the tapes with your very own ears, it didn't happen. At least that's Texan John Cornyn's take. He said he didn't have "personal knowledge" and didn't "have any confidence in the reporting," so he couldn't weigh in on it.
Others decided their best bet was going all in with the Trump excuse that he was trying to avert a national panic. Because if there's anything the guy who screams about antifa and Mexicans and Black Lives Matter protesters coming to rape and pillage and loot in the suburbs wants, it's not to cause a panic. North Carolina's Thom Tillis endorsed Trump's excuse. "When you're in a crisis situation, you have to inform people for their public health but you also don't want to create hysteria." When Tillis was pushed and asked if Trump should have been comparing the virus to the flu when he knew that it was far deadlier, Tillis wouldn't answer.
Trump's little golfing buddy, Lindsey Graham, piped up: "I don't think he needs to go on TV and screaming we're all going to die." Georgia's David Perdue agreed. "I understand trying to manage the psyche of the country and also look at the actions that he took. […] I look at what he did—and it was certainly a strong response." In no universe whatsoever was it a strong response, but that's a popular lie among Republicans. "Actions speak louder than words," said Louisiana's Bill Cassidy, another Republican up for reelection. "The President tends to speak loosely. We know that. That's just his pattern." And of course there’s Sen. Mitch McConnell, who combined the professed ignorance and defense of Trump into one: "Well, I haven’t read the Woodward book, but we all knew it was dangerous. The president knew it was dangerous and I think took positive steps very early on, for which he should be applauded, not criticized," he said.
Anonymously, Republican senators were less bothered by Trump's lies to the American public about a pandemic that has gone on to kill 200,000 Americans than about the fact that he would talk to Bob Woodward. "Most of us say, 'What the hell is he doing talking to Bob Woodward at 11 at night?'" one of them told The Hill.
Remember back in March, when McConnell talked about how Trump's flat-footed response to the pandemic was the fault of House Democrats and impeachment? How he said that it "diverted the attention of the government?” Yeah, that. The refusal of McConnell and fellow Republicans to actually look at the evidence, to put country over party in the impeachment, has led directly to this: 200,000 people dead. McConnell's continued insistence on putting party over country means that six months into the pandemic, he's abandoned it.