Donald Trump is fighting to block a commercial that shows him likening the coronavirus crisis to a ‘Democrat hoax’ at a campaign rally.
The ad was released by Priorities USA, a political action committee backing former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, last week. It features Trump making a serious of comments downplaying the coronavirus outbreak alongside a chart of the rising cases in the US.
Throughout the video, quotes are played verbatim from the president, including when he said ‘We have it totally under control,’ ‘One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,’ ‘We really think we’ve done a great job in keeping it down to a minimum’ and ‘I like this stuff. I really get it.’
In response, Trump’s lawyers sent a cease and desist order to TV broadcast stations across the country to stop them from playing the ad.
In the letter, the president’s lawyers call the ad ‘patently false, misleading and deceptive because of an edit in the video of Trump saying ‘Coronavirus. This is their new hoax,’ during a campaign speech in South Carolina. However, during the actual speech, Trump also brands the impeachment inquiry and investigation into Russian meddling hoaxes.
The quote of Trump calling coronavirus a hoax in the ad was spliced together from a long rant he made at the rally, which saw him tell supporters: ‘Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs, you say, “How’s President Trump doing?”, “Oh, nothing, nothing.” They have no clue, they don’t have any clue.’
‘They can’t even count their votes in Iowa, they can’t even count. No, they can’t. They can’t count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, “Mr President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.” That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation,’ Trump continued, referring to his phone call with the Ukrainian president.
‘They tried anything, they tried it over and over, they’ve been doing it since he got in. It’s all turning, they lost. It’s all turning, think of it, think of it. And this is their new hoax,'”
‘Your station has an obligation to cease and desist from airing (the commercial) immediately to comply with FCC licensing requirements, to serve the public interest, and to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation,’ the letter from Trump’s lawyers reads.
The letter goes on to say: ‘Your station has a responsibility to “protect the public from false, misleading or deceptive advertising”…your failure to remove this deceptive ad…could put your station’s license in jeopardy.’
Priorities USA is pushing back against the president and is continuing to run the ad in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The group said they will be airing the commercial in Arizona over the next few weeks as well.
‘The fact that Trump is going to such great lengths to keep the American people from hearing his own words adds to the urgency of communicating them far and wide,’ said Priorities USA Chairman Guy Cecil said in a statement.
‘Trump doesn’t want voters to know the truth. We will not be intimidated. We’ll keep telling him the truth and holding Donald Trump accountable.’
The president has since changed his view on the outbreak and appears to finally be taking it seriously after White House health officials reportedly told him that up to 200,000 could die from the virus. Trump recently extended the national social distancing order to the end of April – a decision he is said to have made after seeing the projections.
As of Wednesday morning, more than 4,050 Americans have died from Covid-19 and over 188,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed.