This nonsense revisionism drew no response at all from CNN’s Jake Tapper on yesterday’s State of the Union, but that doesn’t mean it’s not noteworthy. Nancy Pelosi, who ripped Donald Trump at the time for his January 31 restriction on travel between China and the US, now wants to argue that Trump didn’t go far enough. What he should have done, Pelosi declared, was refuse to allow American citizens and legal residents to re-enter the US from China.
Er … what?
After Democrats criticized China travel ban, Nancy Pelosi now says it should've "shut the door" on the re-entry of Americans. pic.twitter.com/kADsqbQ48Y
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) April 26, 2020
Give Tapper some credit for bringing the question up at all, and letting her run with this ridiculous answer. It deserved a follow-up, though:
TAPPER: So — well, there’s one thing, one point of clarification I was I was wondering. Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign told me earlier this month that he supported President Trump’s partial travel restrictions on January 31 blocking foreign nationals from China from coming to the United States.
Do you agree that it was the right move by President Trump at the time?
PELOSI: Well, let’s go into the future, OK? The — actually, tens of thousands of people were still allowed in from China, so it wasn’t, as it is described, as this great moment. There were Americans coming back or green card holders coming back. But there were tens of thousands. So, if you’re going to shut the door because you have an evaluation of an epidemic, then shut the door.
Had Trump ordered a bar on allowing returning American citizens to come into the country, Pelosi and Congress would have erupted in outrage. And they would have been right to do so, too. Citizenship and legal permanent residency confer certain constitutional privileges, including access to the country itself. We have no legal structure for exile. To order American citizens to be locked out of the country would have been a grave constitutional offense. (It also would have been unnecessary, of course, as Trump could have required a 14-day quarantine — as he did with some Americans caught up in the coronavirus spread on cruise ships.)
Presidents do have the authority to bar entry of non-citizens/permanent residents in emergencies, which Trump exercised properly — and as it turns out, wisely. It also turned out to be popular, with approval ratings in the mid-90s in a March Pew poll among Republicans and Democrats. This is nothing more than Pelosi trying to glom onto Trump’s success with a ridiculous assertion that she would have been even tougher than Trump at the time, which no one who remembers the howling from Democrats in late January and early February over the travel ban could possibly believe.
But that wasn’t the worst of this revisionism. Exactly two months earlier, nearly a full month after Trump announced the travel restrictions, Pelosi called the restrictions a “scare tactic” from Trump (via Twitchy):
Here's Nancy Pelosi on February 26th saying the President shouldn't use "scare tactics about people coming back to our country." Starts around the 45 second mark. pic.twitter.com/NZYTCfsxjr
— Augustus Caesar (@Caesar63BC) April 26, 2020
Trump never did use “scare tactics” about US citizens and legal residents “coming back to our country.” Pelosi just did, though. Isn’t that worth a follow-up?