Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says President Donald Trump's impeachment trial distracted the federal government from the novel coronavirus as it reached the United States in January.
The Kentucky Republican told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday that the deadly virus "came up while we were tied down on the impeachment trial."
There were warnings at the time, however, from public health experts and members of Congress about the spread of the virus.
The Trump administration has been severely criticized for its slow response, especially the shortage of coronavirus testing kits when the infection first spread to the U.S. from China. Trump initially downplayed the crisis, comparing it to the seasonal flu.