Bernstein, the former Washington Post journalist who reported alongside Bob Woodward, called out Trump on Monday night for resuming indoor campaign rallies and saying he is using his supporters as ‘sacrificial lambs’.
‘You’re witnessing a homicidal president convening, purposefully, a homicidal assembly to help him get reelected instead of protecting the health and welfare of the United States, including supporters whose lives he is willing to sacrifice,’ Bernstein told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
‘Here is this president, who has staked part of his presidency on the right to life, particularly of the unborn, and every day he has sacrificed the lives of thousands of Americans because he is unwilling to deal honestly, forthrightly, meaningfully, with the greatest domestic crisis in our post-war history in this country.
‘Now we’ve seen in front of us, tonight, this homicidal assembly that the president of the United States has called his supporters to be sacrificial lambs. It’s astonishing.’
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Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein called out Trump on Monday night for resuming indoor campaign rallies amid the coronavirus pandemic
Bernstein, who went as far as calling Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak ‘the most grievous felony’ in history, was referring to Trump holding an indoor campaign rally in Henderson, Nevada, on Sunday and a round table event in Phoenix, Arizona, on Monday night.
The rally was held at the Xtreme Manufacturing warehouse facility where thousands of supporters gathered to hear Trump speak.
Relatively few people wore masks.
Nevada restricts gatherings to 50 people based on White House reopening guidelines.
‘This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves,’ said Nevada’s Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak.
The city of Henderson on Monday announced that it was fining Xtreme Manufacturing $3,000.
Trump on Monday also drew hundreds of supporters to an indoor event in Phoenix, Arizona that his campaign advertised as a ‘Latinos for Trump roundtable’.
‘This is supposed to be a roundtable but it looks like a rally,’ he told the crowd.
Most in the audience did not wear masks but tables filled with hundreds of unused masks were at the entrance to the event.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, has consistently refused to criticize Trump for holding large gatherings in the state, including a packed campaign event at a Phoenix church in June when Arizona was seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.
‘The constitutional rights of Arizonans are going to be protected,’ Ducey said. ‘The’ve been protected the entire time. They’re nonnegotiable.’
A Trump rally in in Henderson, Nevada, on Sunday night drew thousands of supporters. Nevada restricts gatherings to 50 people based on White House reopening guidelines
Upcoming rallies in Wisconsin on Thursday and Minnesota on Friday will be held in open-air airplane hangars. Neither state caps attendance on outdoor events.
Democratic governors and local leaders have urged Trump to reconsider campaign events, warning that he is putting lives at risk.
But they have largely not tried to block the gatherings of thousands of people, which Trump and his team have deemed ‘peaceful protests’ protected by the First Amendment.
Trump has made the case that if demonstrators can gather en masse for protests over racial injustice, so can his supporters.
‘If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the 1st Amendment to hear from the President of the United States,’ Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesperson, said in a statement.
Trump’s campaign has insisted that it takes appropriate health precautions, including handing out masks and hand sanitizer and checking the temperatures of those in attendance.
It comes after it emerged last week that Trump had referred to the virus as ‘deadly stuff’ in a private conversation with Bernstein’s former reporting partner Bob Woodward.
Trump, at the same time, was publicly downplaying the threat of COVID-19. T
Three days after delivering his ‘deadly’ assessment in a private call with Woodward, he told a New Hampshire rally on February 10 that ‘it’s going to be fine’.
Trump’s acknowledgment in Woodward’s new book ‘Rage’ that he was minimizing the severity of the virus in public to avoid causing panic has triggered waves of criticism that he wasn’t leveling with the American people.
The president told Woodward on March 19 that he had deliberately minimized the danger. ‘I wanted to always play it down,’ the president said. ‘I still like playing it down because I don´t want to create a panic.’