On Wednesday, excerpts of a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward showed that Trump knew by early February that the virus was “more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” yet tried to downplay the severity of it.
In light of Trump’s comments recorded in the book, Biden was asked if he holds the president responsible for the deaths caused by the coronavirus, he responded, “Yes, I do. I absolutely do.”
He went to reference a study by the Columbia Medical School that claimed that if mitigation efforts were implemented one week earlier, there could have been 37,000 fewer deaths from the virus.
Biden also slammed Trump for previously saying that intelligence officials only briefed him on the virus in late-January and that even then, they addressed it in a “very non-threatening, or matter of fact, manner.”
Woodward writes in his new book “Rage,” that National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told Trump on January, 28 that the virus would be the “biggest national security threat you face in your presidency.”
Biden said, “Remember when he said he wasn’t briefed by the intelligence community how bad it was? He didn’t read it. He just flat lied. That’s wrong. It’s totally irresponsible. Totally irresponsible.”
When asked what “consequence” Trump should face, Biden said, “Kick him out office this time.”
Watch Biden’s remarks below:
Asked whether he blames Pres. Trump for COVID-19 deaths after reports Trump acknowledged the virus' severity in a February interview with Bob Woodward, Joe Biden tells @karentravers, "Yes, I do."— ABC News (@ABC) September 10, 2020
"The idea that he knew how this spread…that's wrong. It's totally irresponsible." pic.twitter.com/uNX6XP09XQ
At a campaign event in Michigan on Wednesday, Biden also took aim at Trump for downplaying the threat of the virus, “He knew how deadly it was.”
He continued, “It was much more deadly than the flu. He knew and purposely played it down. Worse, he lied to the American people. 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. It was a life and death betrayal of the American people,” he added.
For his part, Trump argued that he was trying to avoid stirring up panic, “The fact is I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country, and I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly, I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy.”
Biden’s comments come as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. passed 6.5 million, and the death toll has crossed 195,000.