Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about President Donald Trump’s just lately revealed feedback concerning the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) pandemic throughout a marketing campaign cease in Warren, Michigan, U.S., September 9, 2020.
Leah Millis | Reuters
WASHINGTON — Democratic nominee Joe Biden lit into President Donald Trump on Wednesday following the revelation that Trump intentionally downplayed the menace posed by the coronavirus final winter regardless of understanding as early as Feb. 7 how lethal and simply spreadable the virus was.
“He had the knowledge. He knew how harmful it was. And whereas this lethal illness ripped via our nation, he didn’t do his job on goal,” mentioned Biden, in response to Trump’s taped interviews with journalist Bob Woodward for the forthcoming guide, “Rage.”
“It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American folks,” Biden added, talking at a marketing campaign occasion in Warren, Michigan. “It’s past despicable. It’s a dereliction of responsibility. It’s a shame.”
On Wednesday, tapes emerged on a number of interviews Trump gave Woodward, together with a Feb. 7 cellphone name the place Trump repeated what he knew concerning the coronavirus from nationwide safety briefings.
“This is lethal stuff,” Trump advised Woodward, in response to the Washington Post. “You simply breathe the air and that is the way it’s handed. And in order that’s a really difficult one. That’s a really delicate one. It’s additionally extra lethal than even your strenuous flu.”
A month later, Trump admitted to Woodward that he was publicly downplaying the severity of the virus, regardless of privately understanding how lethal it was.
“I needed to all the time play it down. I nonetheless like taking part in it down, as a result of I do not wish to create a panic,” Trump could be heard saying.
Woodward’s tapes went off like a bomb in Washington Wednesday, the place members of Congress had simply returned to their workplaces on Capitol Hill after the August recess.
But whereas Democrats have been fast to sentence Trump’s willingness to deceive the general public on such a critical matter, Republicans who have been requested concerning the tapes practically all insisted they’d neither seen nor heard them.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conducts a information convention after the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in Hart Building on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Also showing from left are, Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Todd Young, R-Ind., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
“Donald Trump lied, and other people died. When I take into consideration what number of Americans died in March, and April, and May, and on, it enrages me,” tweeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, whose residence state of New York was the epicenter of the nationwide outbreak this spring.
“The President’s personal phrases spell out the devastating reality: Trump was totally conscious of the catastrophic nature of the coronavirus however hid the information and refused to take the menace severely, leaving our whole nation uncovered and unprepared,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mentioned in a press release Wednesday.
Like Schumer, Pelosi hails from a state, California, that was particularly exhausting hit by the pandemic. “The horrifying toll of Trump’s lethal disinformation and negligence within the lives of grieving households and to our economic system is a historic nationwide tragedy,” mentioned Pelosi.
For some Republicans, the sheer effort required to keep away from saying something in any respect about Trump was torturous. Consider this trade between Louisiana GOP Sen. John Kennedy and CNN’s Pamela Brown.
After explaining what Trump had mentioned, Brown requested, “Is that acceptable to you? Is that deceptive the general public?”
“These gotcha books do not actually curiosity me that a lot,” Kennedy replied.
“He’s on the file,” mentioned Brown. Kennedy paused.
“These gotcha books do not actually curiosity me that a lot. There will likely be a brand new one out tomorrow,” mentioned Kennedy.
“But that is totally different,” mentioned Brown. “He did eighteen interviews with Bob Woodward.”
“Let me reply you once more. These gotcha books do not actually curiosity me. There will likely be a brand new one out tomorrow,” Kennedy mentioned once more, earlier than insisting that he might communicate solely from his private expertise with Trump.
Inside the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dodged questions on Trump’s remarks by telling reporters, “I did not have a look at the Woodward guide. I’ll later. But I have never even seen what you are referring to but.” McConnell additionally replied to a number of questions by telling reporters to direct them to the White House.
U.S. President Donald Trump takes questions after delivering remarks on judicial appointments throughout a short look within the Diplomatic Room on the White House in Washington, September 9, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Over on the White House, nevertheless, the message was simply as muddled because it was on Capitol Hill.
Trump spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany insisted at a briefing that the president had by no means misled the general public concerning the coronavirus. “The president has all the time been clear-eyed with the American folks” concerning the pandemic, she mentioned.
But just a few hours later, Trump instantly contradicted McEnany, admitting that he had minimized the risks posed by the virus as a result of he did not wish to “present panic.”
“We’re not going to point out panic,” Trump mentioned, “and that is precisely what I did. And I used to be very open — whether or not it is to Woodward or anyone else…you can’t present a way of panic or you are going to have greater issues than you ever had earlier than.”
By Wednesday afternoon, neither the White House nor the Republican congressional caucus appeared to have settled on a cohesive message that would both justify or decrease the import of what Trump mentioned to Woodward.
Left unanswered, these damning revelations will proceed to inflict huge political harm on the president, lower than 60 days from November’s election.
But for no less than one constituency of voters, an evidence is forthcoming: At round 3:30 p.m., Fox News introduced that Trump would seem Wednesday evening together with his good good friend, host Sean Hannity.
“During the interview, Trump will focus on the latest revelations in Bob Woodward’s new guide “Rage,” together with the newest on the marketing campaign path,” mentioned a Fox News press launch.
“Rage,” by Bob Woodward, formally goes on sale Tuesday, Sept. 15.