A woman whose father died of COVID-19 says that President Trump’s admission that he intentionally downplayed the severity of the coronavirus in the weeks before the pandemic swept the nation is “inexcusable.”
Kristin Urquiza, who at last month’s Democratic National Convention spoke out forcefully against the president’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, questioned Thursday “how many families right now are missing a loved one because of Trump’s failure?”
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Urquiza’s comments were made during a conference call with reporters hosted by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign. They come a day after reporter Bob Woodward’s new book – which includes audio recordings of the president telling the longtime Washington Post journalist in February that he knew the coronavirus was “deadly” but went to great lengths to downplay the virus in public – went viral.
The president defended comments he made earlier this year about the coronavirus in interviews with Woodward, telling Fox News’ “Hannity” Wednesday that he wanted to “show a calmness.”
“I’m the leader of the country, I can’t be jumping up and down and scaring people,” Trump told host Sean Hannity. “I don’t want to scare people. I want people not to panic, and that’s exactly what I did.”
But on Thursday morning, Urquiza took aim at Trump’s defense.
“My dad trusted the president. He listened to the president and followed his advice. And sure, my dad did not panic. But instead, he died,” she told reporters from various news organizations, including Fox News. “These are serious actions that resulted in surmountable, preventable loss of life. And I much rather have dealt with a father who was a little scared versus one that was led to his death.”
Repeating a comment she made last month at the Democratic convention that “my dad’s only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he risked his life,” Urquiza stressed “that betrayal of my father and our country is even more clear now.”
She charged that “the president’s lies are undeniable and inexcusable. If Donald Trump had told the American people in public what he had told Bob Woodward in private, thousands of lives could have been spared, including my dad’s. How many families right now are missing a loved one because of Trump’s failure?”
Her dad – Arizona resident Mark Anthony Urquiza – started feeling ill June 11, as his state at the time was dealing with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country. The elder Urquiza tested positive for COVID-19 the following day, and was hospitalized five days later. The 65-year-old died on June 30.
His daughter’s comments to reporters come a day after Biden charged the president “knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease ripped through the nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people. … It’s beyond despicable. It’s a dereliction of duty. It’s a disgrace.”
The president, taking to Twitter on Thursday morning, pointed out that Woodward had his quotes for months.
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“If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!” Trump tweeted.
But Biden campaign deputy communications director Bill Russo told reporters that the former vice president’s emphasized “the fact that we have to level with the American people, that if we are honest with the American people, that if we tell them the challenges that we face, and if we offer them an actual plan to get our way out of it, that they can handle the truth.”