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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 SandersGOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories Manchin on collision course with Warren, Sanders Sanders on Cheney drama: GOP is an 'anti-democratic cult' MORE (I-Vt.) on Sunday called out President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report 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 MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says 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 BidenBiden to meet with 6 GOP senators next week Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit On The Money: Five takeaways on a surprisingly poor jobs report | GOP targets jobless aid after lackluster April gain 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.