‘Beyond Despicable’: Biden Slams Trump For Purposely Downplaying Severity Of COVID-19

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Tougaloo College on March 08, 2020 in Tougaloo, Mississippi. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
September 9, 2020 3:16 p.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tore into President Donald Trump on Wednesday after Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward released audio recordings of Trump privately admitting back in early 2020 that COVID-19 was a serious threat and that he was downplaying it on purpose.

During a campaign stop in Warren, Michigan Wednesday, Biden said Trump had “knowingly and willingly lied” to the country.

“He knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed do his job on purpose,” the former vice president told the audience. “It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people.”

Biden also hit Trump on the economic damage brought on by the President’s “negligence” throughout the pandemic.

“It’s beyond despicable,” the Democratic candidate said. “It’s a dereliction of duty. It’s a disgrace.”

Shortly before Biden was scheduled to give his speech, the Washington Post published a series of excerpts from “Rage,” Woodward’s upcoming book about Trump, along with several audio clips Woodward had recorded during his interviews with the President. The excerpts and recording revealed that Trump completely understood back in February that COVID-19 was “deadly stuff” when it first began to hit the U.S. – back when he repeatedly told the country that it wasn’t serious.

“It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” Trump told Woodward on February 7, the exact opposite of the talking point he and his allies at Fox News had been peddling at the time.

Then on March 19, Trump baldly admitted that he was artificially deflating the urgency of the pandemic.

“To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down,” the President said in the interview. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Watch Biden below:

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: