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Biden says Trump downplaying coronavirus threat was 'almost criminal'

Biden says Trump downplaying coronavirus threat was 'almost criminal'
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Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE said Wednesday it is “almost criminal” that President TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE downplayed the threat of the coronavirus in public earlier this year. 

Biden’s criticism comes after journalist Bob Woodward released recordings of interviews with Trump for his forthcoming book, “Rage,” in which the president acknowledged downplaying the threat of the coronavirus

Biden called Trump’s comments to Woodward, compared with his public downplaying of the virus’s threat earlier this year, “disgusting” in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. 

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“I truly don't get it,” Biden told Tapper in response to clips of Trump’s interviews with Woodward about the virus, noting the tens of thousands of coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. 

"It was all about making sure the stock market didn't come down, that his wealthy friends didn't lose any money and that he could say anything, that in fact anything that happened had nothing to do with him," Biden added. 

"He waved a white flag. He walked away. He didn't do a damn thing," Biden continued. "Think about it. Think about what he did not do. It's almost criminal."

Biden similarly criticized Trump over his comments about downplaying the coronavirus pandemic earlier in the day during a speech in Michigan

“He knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months,” Biden said during a speech detailing his Made in America plan in Warren, Mich.

“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 continued.

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Asked about the recordings and his comments to Woodward about the coronavirus, Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he wanted to "reduce panic" about the virus. 

"If you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that's so," Trump said Wednesday afternoon when asked if he downplayed the virus or misled the public to avoid panic.

"The fact is I'm a cheerleader for this country. I love our country," Trump continued. "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."

Trump gave Woodward 18 interviews for the book, including one in which the president says on Feb. 7 that the coronavirus “is deadly stuff” and one on March 19 in which he says that “I wanted to always play it down,” CNN reported, citing excerpts of the book. 

Woodward’s “Rage,” his second book about Trump’s presidency, is set to be released next week.