Former US Vice President Al Gore denounces the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the country will have to get through the crisis “in spite of Donald Trump”.
As the US’s coronavirus death toll passed 56,000, the former vice president was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes “where the US is right now in terms of how it has dealt with the crisis”.
“It’s hard to know where to begin,” said Mr Gore.
“There’s no more important role for a president than to lead a nation through a crisis. And that means unifying people and leading not only your political base, but reaching out to others with whom you’ve disagreed. And Donald Trump has made this all about himself.
“He has ignored repeated warnings, news reports this evening showing yet more warnings that he ignored. He ignored the science, as he has done with the climate crisis as well.
“He has engaged in a kind of magical thinking. He’s pushed dangerous and potentially deadly snake oil-type remedies. He’s lashed out at people who have been asking legitimate questions and who have pleaded with him to try to mobilise the federal government’s resources.”
Mr Trump has routinely tried to shift responsibility for the pandemic’s devastating effect on the US onto a range of actors, from China to US governors to the World Health Organisation, but has nonetheless been criticised for his administration’s missteps and for making myriad false and misleading statements at his daily press briefings.
He is still dealing with the backlash to his suggestion last week that injections of disinfectant should be investigated as a potential treatment, which appeared to precipitate an increase in calls to states’ poison control helplines. He has since claimed the remark was “sarcastic”, though footage of the episode does not support that.
At his press conference on Monday, which he reinstated with just a few hours’ notice after it was cancelled, a reporter pointed out to Mr Trump that the US’s coronavirus death toll is now approaching the total number of American military deaths during the Vietnam War.
In response, the president declined to engage with the comparison, instead crediting his own decisions with having kept the death toll down. “If you look at what the original projections were, 2.2 million – we’re probably headed to 60,000, 70,000 and I think we’ve made a lot of really good decisions,” he said.
At the start of the briefing, he blamed China’s initial reaction to the outbreak for US deaths. Authorities there have been accused of covering up the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan, which Beijing denies.
“There has been so much unnecessary death in this country,” Mr Trump said. “It could have been stopped and it could have been stopped short, but somebody a long time ago, it seems, decided not to do it that way. And the whole world is suffering because of it.”
Mr Gore said Mr Trump’s rhetoric was unhelpful. “When people all around the world are just dropping their jaws in amazement at the things he says, that’s not good for anybody in this country,” he told MSNBC. “And we’ve got to get through this in spite of Donald Trump. It has been an irresponsible, incompetent, and disgraceful performance.”
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