President Donald Trump headlined back to back rallies in Arizona Monday, blasting Democrat Joe Biden again and again for being a ‘criminal.’
In Prescott, north of Phoenix, Trump said Biden was lucky because Attorney General Bill Barr was so ‘fair’ as he addressed a rally crowd chanting ‘lock him up.’
‘I know people who would have had him locked up five weeks ago,’ Trump told supporters.
‘Somebody else would have taken this thing and all that c**p and corruption.’
But not Barr, in Trump’s mind, calling him a ‘very nice man.’
‘Bill Barr is a very nice man and a very fair man,’ he said. ‘Just remember it, because I get angry too.’
At his second stop in Tucson, Trump stayed more on-script, but he again wobbled between calling Biden a crook and totally out of it.
‘He’s not at the top of his game mentally,’ Trump said.
Throughout the day, Trump campaigned with embattled Arizona Sen. Martha McSally and the state’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
Attack on the Bidens: Donald Trump used his first rally in Prescott, AZ, to say that the Bidens should be ‘locked up’ and put pressure on his AG, Bill Barr, to investigate the contents of Hunter’s laptop
Up to 10,000 supporters packed into Tuscon International Airport for Trump’s second campaign stop of the day
Ever since The New York Post published revelations of the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop last week – which appeared to show him trading on his father’s name and doing deals in Ukraine and China as well as an alleged sex and drugs tape – the president has made it the center of his rallies.
In Tuscon, he said: ‘Joe Biden is and always has been a corrupt politician. You know what, you knew that and a lot of people knew it for a long time but now you have the laptop. It’s all over.’
Trump also used his rally to praise Arizona congressman Paul Gosar, who Monday led a list of Republicans who wrote to Barr demanding a ‘special counsel’ be appointed to investigate the Bidens. The Department of Justice has not commented.
The president’s comments on Barr in Prescott were prompted by a raucous ‘lock him up!’ chant, aimed at Trump’s Democratic opponent.
The comments – like much of the rest of the rally – bore little relationship to the script aides had prepared for the president, and at one point he said: ‘Isn’t this better than reading from the stupid teleprompter?’
First rally of the day: Trump has been on a western campaign swing, going to Arizona which he won by 3.5 points in 2016 amid fears from his campaign that it could go for Biden, who has been ahead in the polls there. The swing has taken in California for a fundraiser and Nevada
Supporters: Donald Trump fans were out in force for the rally, which also featured the state’s governor Doug Doocey and Martha McSally, its Republican senator who is running for election. She has already lost a race but was put in the late John McCain’s seat when he died
Raucous: In front of Marine One – a VH-60N White Hawk – and two Marine Corps Ospreys which escorted it, Trump spoke at Prescott Regional Airport to a large crowd, with no social distancing and many without masks
Not the focus of a probe: Donald Trump claimed that Joe Biden was not ‘locked up’ because Bill Barr is ‘a nice man’
Center of campaign: Trump is now making Hunter Biden and the contents of his laptop the focus of his pitch to the American people for a second term
‘Can you imagine if Don Jr. had the same problems as ‘Where’s Hunter?” the president asked. He then joked that Ivanka sort of ‘floats through life.’
In Tuscon, he also blasted Rep. Adam Schiff for saying the laptop was Russian disinformation, fuming: ‘Here we go again. Russia did it. Russia. Russia. Russia.’
The Post story not only featured unverified emails, but photos of Hunter Biden doing drugs, the paper said. A copy of the harddrive was given to Rudy Giuliani.
The president continued to call it the ‘laptop from hell’ – comparing it to the laptop belonging to disgraced Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner, who was sexting ‘girls,’ as Trump put it.
He was referring to DailyMail.com’s revelation in August 2016 that Weiner had been sexting an underage girl. That lead to an FBI probe in the course of which agents found emails from Hillary Clinton’s secret server.
The FBI had to alert Congress that the Clinton emails investigation had been reopened because of content found on that laptop.
‘Ding ding ding ding – he got hacked too just like Scully got hacked,’ the president said, referencing the would-be moderator of the canceled second presidential debate, Steve Scully, who was put on administrative leave by the network after lying about tweeting to Trump critic Anthony Scaramucci.
The veiled hint that Barr should take an interest in the Bidens came as Trump on Monday lashed out at a traveling reporter who questioned his campaign’s constant focus on Hunter – calling the scribe a ‘criminal’ for failing to cover it.
‘You’re a criminal for reporting it. You are a criminal for not reporting it,’ the president said, unloading on Jeff Mason, Reuters’ White House correspondent, who asked the president in Phoenix about his apparent campaign strategy to label Biden a ‘criminal.’
‘He is a criminal. He’s a criminal. He got caught – read his laptop,’ Trump said, in reference to Hunter Biden’s laptop.
‘And you know who is a criminal here? You’re a criminal for not reporting it,’ Trump scolded.
Second stop: Trump waves to thousands of supporters at Tucson International Airport after back-to-back rallies on Monday
‘You are a criminal [for not] reporting it. Let me tell you something, Joe Biden is a criminal and he’s been a criminal for a long time, and you’re a criminal and the media for not reporting it. Good luck, everybody. Have a good time,’ Trump concluded shortly before holding the back-to-back rallies in Arizona, where he trails Biden in the GOP-leaning state.
The president unleashed the attack shortly after he went after a New York Times report that cataloged ‘sobering political assessments’ of Republican political operatives that he might lose the election. He called his own rallies ‘boffo’ going and tore into the lead author of the piece.
It all happened on a day when he also ripped infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and termed Fauci and other experts ‘idiots.’
At the Prescott, Arizona rally, Trump continued to push the narrative that the media covered the coronavirus pandemic as a plot against him.
‘They’re getting tired of the pandemic, aren’t they? Getting tired at the pandemic,’ he said, speaking for his crowd. ‘You turn on CNN, that’s all they cover. COVID. COVID. Pandemic.’
‘You know why?’ he continued. ‘They’re trying to talk everybody out of voting. People aren’t buying it, CNN. You dumb b******s.’
In Prescott, thousands came out to see Trump, who arrived via Marine One and gave his supporters an air show, with one of the presidential helicopters flying low overhead.
In Tuscon, Trump arrived aboard Air Force One, and addressed a crowd of up to 10,000 supporters at the city’s international airport.
Donald Trump used the Prescott rally to unload on Dr. Fauci, CNN, the media, and Democrats – and to attack the Bidens as ‘criminal’ and ‘corrupt.’
He’s using the back to back rallies in Arizona to boost his own chances in the swing state but also those of Republican Sen. Martha McSally.
She’s running against Democrat Mark Kelly, whose wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords survived the 2011 Tucson shooting.
Trump still knocked Kelly’s pro-gun control stance.
‘He’s bad news. I mean, he’s good news – if you don’t like, does anybody not like your Second Amendment here? Because he would vote to get rid of your Second Amendment.’
As McSally pointed out that the race was between an astronaut, Kelly, and a fighter pilot, hers truly.
‘I know you like a fighter pilot,’ she said when Trump had her address the crowd.
Later Trump said his fate and McSally’s aren’t connected.
‘No, I don’t think it has anything to do, I think she’s doing fine – it’s a separate – I’ve always viewed that as being highly overrated – I think we’re very separated. We support each other voting, but i’ve never been a believer that we’re tied together,’ the president told reporters.
McSally has trailed Kelly in the polls.
‘I know I’m very well, I don’t know what her numbers are, I haven’t looked,’ Trump said.
And his campaign accused the Commission on Presidential Debates of being ‘swamp monsters’ who were helping Biden avoid having to answer questions about his son Hunter’s emails with a Ukrainian official during the final matchup before Election Day.
Four more years: Supporters chanted in unison for the president as he spoke, many of them ignoring public health advice to eschew masks for the rally
They formally requested it tear up the list of debate topics to focus on ‘foreign policy’ in an attempt to shift the subject to the Democratic nominee’s son.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien sent a formal letter to the commission asking for them to dismiss the topics chosen by the moderator, NBC’s Kristen Welker.
‘For the good of campaign integrity, and for the benefit of the American people, we urge you to rethink and reissue a set of topics for the October 22 debate with an emphasis on foreign policy,’ Stepien said.
He argued the topics Welker picked – Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership – were covered in the first presidential debate.
He accused the commission – which is made up of both Republicans and Democrats – of being pro-Biden.
‘The Commission’s pro-Biden antics have turned the entire debate season into a fiasco and it is little wonder why the public has lost faith in its objectivity,’ he wrote.
Additionally, Jason Miller, a senior adviser on the Trump campaign, complained that the debate was supposed to be foreign policy focused but charged the commissioners, who he described as ‘swamp dinosaurs,’ changed it to a multi-topic format at the request of the Biden campaign.
‘This is supposed to be the foreign policy debate. The final debate is always the foreign policy debate. It was like in 2016. It’s been like for election cycle after election cycle. The debate commission is now trying to change the rules and make this about a whole host of different issues. And we believe this is the request of the Biden campaign,’ he said on a press call with reporters on Monday.
The Trump campaign, including the president himself, have pushed hard on the Hunter Biden story, saying it showed Joe Biden was a ‘criminal.’
The president blew up at a reporter Monday who asked him about that strategy.
‘He is a criminal. He got caught, and you know who is a criminal here? You’re criminal for not reporting it,’ Trump said after arriving in Arizona for a campaign rally.
And Miller’s criticism comes after President Trump held an expletive-filled phone call with campaign staff Monday where were he claimed he was on a path to victory, railed against a New York Times article that said his re-election bid was in trouble, and called Dr. Anthony Fauci an ‘idiot.’
Biden is leading the president in most major polls – both nationally and in the critical battleground states needed to win on November 3.
Trump calls Fauci ‘an idiot’ who ‘gets more airtime than anybody since Bob Hope’ – as he claims people are ‘tired of COVID’ and calls CNN ‘dumb b*****ds’ for covering the pandemic
President disparaged infectious disease expert Dr. on a call with campaign staff Monday as a ‘disaster,’ tearing into experts as ‘idiots’ and saying Americans are ‘tired of COVID’ in comments which leaked almost instantly.
Two weeks before Election Day, with coronavirus cases spiking once again, the president unloaded on Fauci, who polls have shown to be one of the nation’s most trusted figures, blasting him for his virus warnings and even his public persona.
With the coronavirus pandemic posing an ongoing threat to his reelection, Trump predicted victory – something he said he would not have done a few weeks ago when he was hospitalized at Walter Reed medical center with the disease.
‘We’re going to win. I wouldn’t have told you that maybe two or three weeks ago,’ he said on the leaked call.
The president vented about lockdowns and Fauci in particular, after the expert has expressed increasing frustration with the lack of direction on social distancing and mask wearing that Fauci says could save thousands of lives.
He spoke out after saying on Sunday night that the U.S. would be in a ‘massive depression’ if he had listened to the scientists on – while Dr Anthony Fauci told 60 Minutes he was ‘absolutely not’ surprised Trump had fallen ill from the virus after attending the White House super-spreader event for Amy Coney Barrett and not wearing a mask.
‘People are tired of Covid,’ Trump said Monday on the conference call to top aides which was reported by CNN, CBS, Axios, Bloomberg and the New York Times.
‘People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong,’ he said, going further than in public comments where he has undermined current health directives by pointing to indecision from experts early in the pandemic.
At a rally in Prescott, Arizona, he vented further on the theme: ‘They’re getting tired of the pandemic, aren’t we?
‘You turn on CNN. That’s all they cover. Covid, covid, pandemic. Covid, covid, covid. They’re trying to talk people out of voting…People aren’t buying it, CNN, you dumb b*****ds.’
‘They’re getting tired of the pandemic, aren’t we? You turn on CNN. That’s all they cover. Covid, covid, pandemic. Covid, covid, covid. They’re trying to talk people out of voting…People aren’t buying it, CNN, you dumb bastards.’
Trump called Fauci a ‘disaster,’ but revealed he believes he cannot fire him.
‘Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. This guy’s a disaster,’ Trump vented.
‘Fauci is a nice guy,’ Trump said of the career civil servant, who has spent months cautioning Americans about avoiding large gatherings and indoor spaces through TV appearances. But complained: ‘He’s been here for 500 years.
‘If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,’ Trump said.
‘People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone,’ said the president, in the midst of a cross-country campaign tour that has featured a series of large rallies where attendees are not socially distanced and many eschew masks.
Donald Trump went after Dr Tony Fauci in a campaign call, on Twitter and then on the tarmac as he landed at Phoenix, AZ, for a rally
Dr Anthony Fauci told 60 Minutes on Sunday that he wasn’t surprised President Trump tested positive for Covid-19 after seeing the crowds of people at the Amy Coney Barrett event at the White House last month
Trump took the attacks to an even more personal level in a pair of tweets.
‘Dr. Tony Fauci says we don’t allow him to do television, and yet I saw him last night on @60Minutes, and he seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope. All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions. He said ‘no masks & let China in’. Also, Bad arm!’
The president was ridiculing Fauci for his botched effort to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day for the Washington Nationals as the nation sought to climb back from the pandemic.
He followed up with another tweet. ‘P.S. Tony should stop wearing the Washington Nationals’ Mask for two reasons. Number one, it is not up to the high standards that he should be exposing. Number two, it keeps reminding me that Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!’
The attack on Fauci comes after a New York Times / Sienna poll in September had Fauci trusted by a remarkable 67 per cent of respondents – more than double the number who said they trusted Trump (just 26 perent) for accurate information on the coronavirus.
The leaked campaign call – on which Trump also said ‘If there’s a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn’t care less’ – marks an escalation of hostilities with Fauci.
Amid reports on the content of the call, Trump fired off a tweet to the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman with an dated reference.
‘There has never been a time in either of my two Campaigns when I felt we had a stronger chance of winning than we do right now. Early voting reports look far stronger than originally anticipated. Every RALLY is BOFFO,’ Trump wrote.
Then as he touched down in Prescott, Arizona, Trump was asked about his comments.
‘I think really Dr. Fauci’s a very nice man,’ he said.
‘But we let him do what he wants to do, he gets a lot of television – he loves being on television, we let him do it.
‘Sometimes he says things that are a little bit off, and they get build up unfortunately.
‘But he’s a nice guy. I like him. But he’s called a lot of bad calls. He said don’t wear a mask and don’t ban China.’
Asked why he didn’t fire him he said: ‘I don’t want to hurt him. He’s been for there about 350 years.’
Two weeks ago the Trump campaign had used a clip of Fauci in a campaign ad appearing to endorse the president – although Fauci said he had not approved it and never makes endorsements.
Trump pitted the election as a ‘Trump super-recovery’ versus a ‘Biden depression’ at a rollicking rally in Nevada on Sunday.
But at exactly the same time as he spoke, his top epidemiologist told 60 Minutes that Amy Coney Barrett’s unveiling in the White House Rose Garden was a ‘super-spreader event’.
When asked if he was surprised that Trump tested positive for Covid-19 after the Rose Garden event, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said: ‘Absolutely not’.
‘I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask.
‘When I saw that on TV, I said, ‘Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come outta that, that’s gotta be a problem’. And then sure enough, it turned out to be a superspreader event.’
Fauci’s analysis comes as Trump held another campaign rally in Nevada, telling his supporters that if former Vice President Biden makes it into the Oval Office: ‘He’s gonna lock down. This guy wants to lock down.’
‘He’ll listen to the scientists. If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression, instead we’re like a rocket ship. Take a look at the numbers.’
Cases are currently increasing across the US and have now surpassed 8.1 million. The death toll, which has remained steady this month after declining since August, is currently at more than 219,000.
Health experts have been warning that the US is heading into its ‘darkest hour of the pandemic’ as the number of cases continue to surge to levels not seen since July. The US is currently averaging about 55,000 cases per day after rising steadily since mid-September.
Deaths, however, are not increasing and have been averaging about 700 fatalities per day for more than a month. The current death rate, which is a lagging and can potentially rise several weeks after cases increase, is well below the April peak of nearly 2,000 fatalities a day.
Nationwide hospitalizations have been increasing this month, which have been driven mostly by Midwestern states where infections have been surging.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, gave a grim prognosis on Sunday night, saying he didn’t share Trump’s optimism about the virus.
Nearly 70,000 new cases were reported nationwide on Friday, which is the highest level since July during the summer peak.
Osterholm said that figure was worrying and perhaps a sign of things to come, despite many arguing that this is a a result of increased testing capacity.
‘Friday we had 70,000 cases, matching the largest number we had seen back during the really serious peak in July. That number… we’re going to blow right through that. And between now and the holidays we will see numbers much much larger,’ Osterholm said.
‘We’re not telling the full story. We do have vaccines and therapeutics coming down the pike, but when you look at the time period for that, the next six to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the pandemic,’ he told NBC.
‘Vaccines will not become available in any meaningful way until early to [the] third quarter of next year. And even then, about half of the US population at this point is skeptical of even taking the vaccine.’
Osterholm blamed the skepticism on a ‘major problem in messaging.’ He argued that Americans don’t have a ‘lead’ or ‘consolidated’ voice to guide them through the pandemic at the moment.
‘People don’t know what to believe, and that’s one of our huge challenges going forward [is] that we’ve got to get a message to the public that reflects the science and reflects reality,’ Osterholm said.
Although the White House emerged as a solid front when it enacted the coronavirus task force back in January, the facade slowly waned as Trump ignored health experts’ guidelines and dissenting voices entered civil discourse.
Trump and Fauci have publicly bumped heads over various issues before, although his latest remarks about the ‘super-spreader’ White House event are perhaps the starkest example to date.
Fauci also admitted in his 60 Minutes interview that the White House had restricted his media appearances throughout the pandemic.
‘You know, I think you’d have to be honest and say yes. I certainly have not been allowed to go on many, many, many shows that have asked for me.’
However, Fauci did take the same line as Trump when asked if he would recommend another full lockdown for the nation, saying: ‘Things would have to get really, really bad’ before that was suggested.
‘First of all, the country is fatigued with restrictions. So we want to use public health measures, not to get in the way of opening the economy, but to being a safe gateway to opening the economy,’ Fauci said.
‘Those measures were not in place last month in the rose garden when President Trump announced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.’
He went on to state that Americans have more than two choices and do not have to decide between a complete shutdown or an unmitigated reopening of the economy.
Instead, he claims, Americans should implement public health measures as they try to resume life as normal, even with the threat of the virus lingering.
‘Let’s put ‘shutdown’ away and say, ‘We’re going to use public health measures to help us safely get to where we want to go”, he said.
Fauci has been advocating for public health measures, including social distancing and mask wearing, for several months.
In his 60 Minutes interview, Fauci addressed his advice from early in the pandemic when he urged Americans not to wear masks because he was concerned there would be a shortage before changing tune about a month later.
That conflicting advice was seized on by Trump during the presidential debate.
‘It became clear that cloth coverings… and not necessarily a surgical mask or an N95, cloth coverings, work. So now there’s no longer a shortage of masks. Meta-analysis studies show that, contrary to what we thought, masks really do work in preventing infection,’ Fauci said.
‘When you find out you’re wrong, it’s a manifestation of your honesty to say, ‘Hey, I was wrong. I did subsequent experiments and now it’s this way.’
Fauci has also blasted other experts who say measures like mask wearing should be put to the side so that the disease can spread in order to achieve herd immunity.
Trump’s more laissez faire approach to eradicating the pandemic clashed with Fauci, who repeatedly called for Americans to adhere to social distancing and emphasized the importance of face masks.
The pair’s most recent disagreement came over herd immunity, which was reportedly proposed to Trump by medical adviser Scott Atlas.
Several health experts have dismissed herd immunity as a viable solution, including Fauci, who called it ‘total nonsense,’ as well as ‘scientifically and ethically problematic.’
Fauci said in a GMA interview last week: ‘If you just let things rip and let the infection go – no masks, crowds – that quite frankly is ridiculous.
‘What that will do is there will be so many people in the community that you can’t shelter, that you can’t protect, who are going to get sick and get serious consequences.
‘If you talk to anybody who has any experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases they’ll tell you it’s risky and you’ll wind up with many more infections of vulnerable people, which will lead to hospitalizations and deaths.
‘I think we’ve got to look that square in the eye and say it’s nonsense.’