Former Vice President Joe Biden attacked President Donald Trump during his Wednesday appearance in Michigan, highlighting tapes reported by Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward in which Trump admitted to downplaying the severity of coronavirus.
Biden made the comments in the opening minutes of his campaign appearance in Michigan, which was largely focused on attacking Trump’s economic record. The appearance came hours after Woodward reported that Trump told him in interviews in February and March that he knew coronavirus was more severe than the flu and that he had intentionally downplayed the severity of the disease to keep the nation calm.
“It’s beyond despicable. It’s a dereliction of duty,” Biden said, adding that Trump “knowingly and willingly lied about the threat [coronavirus] posed to the country for months…he failed to do his job on purpose.” (RELATED: US To Block Cotton And Tomato Imports From China’s Xinjiang Region Amid Forced Labor Concerns)
Donald Trump knew.
He lied to us for months.
And while a deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job — on purpose.
It was a life or death betrayal of the American people. https://t.co/WDmVUvmmJk
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 9, 2020
Biden’s comments relate to a teaser for Woodward’s upcoming book on Trump’s presidency, titled “Rage.” Select recordings of his interviews were released Wednesday, with more expansive recordings to be released during this weekend’s “60 Minutes” program.
Woodward told Trump in a March 19 interview that “it’s clear, just from what’s on the public record that you went through a pivot on [coronavirus] to, ‘oh my god, the gravity is almost inexplicable and unexplainable.’” Woodward then asked him what caused the change in rhetoric.
“To be honest with you,” Trump responded. “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Trump tells Woodward he played down the threat of the coronavirus.
“I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”
He also tells Woodward that “plenty of young people” are vulnerable — different from his public message pic.twitter.com/fJZUZtJTIv
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 9, 2020
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany rebuffed assertions that Trump lied to the American people, however, emphasizing that his goal was to maintain calm in the face of the virus.
“The president has never lied to the American public on COVID,” she said in a Wednesday press conference. “He was expressing calm and his actions reflect. This January 6 the CDC issued a Wuhan travel notice. I refer you to Dr. Fauci who said this president had an impressive response. I can’t imagine that anyone could do more. That’s the record of this president.”