Biden says Trump ‘failed to do his job on purpose’ in handling COVID-19

Democratic U.S. presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden arrives at General Mitchell International Airport with wife Jill September 03, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. community. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden argued that President Donald Trump is responsible for thousands of American deaths and lost jobs during a speech in Warren on Wednesday.

Trump told Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward, who helped break the Watergate scandal during the Richard Nixon era, that he understood the severity of COVID-19 in a taped interview in February.

“This is deadly stuff,” Trump reportedly told Woodward on Feb. 7. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so, that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than your – you know, your, even your strenuous flu.”

But Trump was telling the public that the virus was “very much under control” and predicted it would “disappear.”

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During another interview with Woodward in March, Trump admitted to misleading the public on its severity.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump reportedly said on March 19. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Biden addressed the report Wednesday during his Macomb County event, calling it a “dereliction of duty” and “beyond despicable.”

“He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months. He had the information, he knew how dangerous it was, and while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose,” Biden said.

Biden tied Trump’s decision to mislead the public to thousands of Americans losing their lives.

“It was a life and death betrayal of the American people,” Biden said. “Experts say that if he had acted just one week sooner, 36,000 people would have been saved. If he acted two weeks sooner, back in March, 54,000 lives would have been spared in March and April alone.”

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The United States has 6.3 million confirmed cases and 189,972 deaths, per Johns Hopkins University tracking.

Beyond costing thousands of Americans their lives, Biden argued Trump’s actions also harmed the economy.

“His failure has not only cost lives,” Biden said, “it cost millions more in American livelihoods. This is a recession created by Donald Trump’s negligence.”

Biden said Trump is “on track to be the first president since Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression to see the number of jobs in our economy go down, not up, while being president.”

Biden unveiled a plan earlier in the day to penalize companies that move jobs out of the United States and give tax credits to companies that invest within the country.

“I’m not looking to punish American business, but there’s a better way. Make it in Michigan; make it in America; invest in our communities and the workers and places like Warren,” Biden said.

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Biden’s plan also would close loopholes in Trump’s policy to only give federal contracts to American companies.

“In my first week, I’ll sign a series of executive actions to make sure we enforce Buy American and direct the full purchasing power of the federal government to fulfill his promise, starting by closing those waiver loopholes immediately,” Biden said.

Biden pointed to the auto industry as one area that would benefit from his strengthened Buy American rules.

“The United States government owns and maintains an enormous fleet of vehicles,” Biden said. “We’re going to convert those government vehicles into electric vehicles, made in America, sourced right here in the United States.”

Biden said doing so would set the United States up to be the leader in the production of clean energy vehicles rather than China.

He criticized the president over reports he called American veterans who died in war “losers” and “suckers.”

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“My son [Beau Biden], as attorney general, volunteered to go to Iraq for one year. He wasn’t a loser or a sucker. No one who served this nation’s been a loser or a sucker, they’re all heroes,” Biden said. “Donald Trump doesn’t understand what it means to serve something bigger than yourself.”

Biden closed by showing his daily schedule, which has the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan and Iraq and the latest number of COVID-19 infections.

“Every one of these lives matter. Every one of these lives left someone behind grieving. We can’t ever forget them,” Biden said.

Biden’s stop in Warren was his first visit to Michigan since a March 9 rally in Detroit before winning Michigan’s presidential primary the next day. Wednesday’s event was not open to the public and only a small handful of invited journalists were allowed to attend so as to lower the risk of spreading COVID-19. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) were among officials at the stop.

Trump will speak at a rally Thursday in Freeland, which will be open to the public.