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Sanders on Trump's COVID-19 stimulus response: 'What the president is doing right now is unbelievably cruel'

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Trump leaves changed nation in his wake Cori Bush dismisses concerns of being 'co-opted' by establishment The Memo: Biden prepares for sea of challenges MORE (I-Vt.) on Sunday called out President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE’s response to the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill passed in Congress last week "unbelievably cruel."

On ABC’s “This Week,” host Jonathan Karl noted the president is essentially threatening to veto the legislation by calling for larger direct payments of $2,000, something Republican lawmakers strongly oppose.

“What the president is doing right now is unbelievably cruel,” replied Sanders. “Many millions of people are losing their extended unemployment benefits. They're going to be evicted from their apartments because the eviction moratorium is ending. We are looking at a way to get the vaccine distributed to tens of millions of people. There's money in that bill.”

Sanders said that, considering the “terrible economic crisis facing this country,” the current bill should be passed immediately, after which another bill for the proposed $2,000 checks should be quickly passed.

Trump’s calls for larger payments came as quite a surprise, Karl noted, as many assumed he would sign the aid bill as soon as it landed on his desk. The ABC News host asked Sanders if there had been communication coming from the White House that indicated Trump’s position before he suddenly called for larger payments.

"No. Everybody assumed — everybody — that Mnuchin was representing the White House," Sanders replied, referring to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinTreasury imposes additional sanctions on Cuba over allegations of 'serious human rights abuse' Treasury Department sanctions inner circle of Russian agent Derkach for election interference Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated MORE. "I talked to Mnuchin a couple of weeks ago, and that was the assumption that everybody had."

Karl ended the interview by asked Sanders for his thoughts on President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Sidney Powell withdraws 'kraken' lawsuit in Georgia MORE's Cabinet picks.

"I believe that the progressive movement deserves seats in the Cabinet. That has not yet happened," said Sanders, though he refrained from commenting directly on any nominees.