Sen. Angus King vented his frustrations about the Trump administration’s coronavirus response directly to Vice President Mike Pence on Friday during a conference call between the administration, calling the administration’s failure to rapidly expand testing a “dereliction of duty.”

“I have never been so mad about a phone call in my life,” King said during the call, multiple members of the Washington press corps reported on Twitter.

So far, President Trump has shifted much of the responsibility for responding to the deadly pandemic to state governors.


“The States have to step up their TESTING!” Trump tweeted Friday about 12:30 p.m. It was unclear what time the phone call took place between the administration and the Senate Democrats.

King and 44 other senators signed a letter earlier this week addressed to Pence, calling on the Trump administration to conduct a comprehensive inventory of the nation’s supply of testing kits, chemical reagents and equipment. King and the group of senators also called for public disclosure of testing data and results, and urged the administration to release a detailed plan to address test shortages and gaps in the supply chain.

“Widespread diagnostic testing is crucial to controlling the COVID-19 outbreak,” the senators wrote in the letter. “In the long run, experts have argued that widespread testing will be needed to track and contain COVID-19 cases, allowing communities to slowly lift general social distancing restrictions without putting the public at risk.”

This story will be updated.

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