President Donald Trump seized on the laptop scandal plaguing his rival Joe Biden’s campaign during a White House town hall, calling the Democrat’s family ‘corrupt’ and accusing Twitter and Facebook of engaging in ‘election interference’ by trying to censor the story.
Trump launched his attack when he sat down with Eric Bolling in the Rose Garden for the Sinclair Broadcasting Network event which aired on Wednesday night.
Bolling opened the discussion by asking Trump about his campaign strategy in the final days leading up to the election on November 3 – noting that the Biden camp paused events ahead of Thursday night’s debate.
Trump referenced his busy campaign schedule before suggesting that Biden is backing away from the media to avoid questions about emails purportedly found on his son Hunter’s laptop, which could potentially implicate him in Hunter’s questionable international business dealings.
‘I think he doesn’t want to be asked about his family because it’s corrupt. What they’ve done is corrupt. Nobody’s ever seen anything like it,’ Trump said.
President Donald Trump seized on the laptop scandal plaguing his rival Joe Biden’s campaign during a White House town hall event aired on Wednesday night
Trump suggested that Joe Biden is shying away from the media because of the email scandal surrounding his son Hunter (pictured together)
‘When you look at the laptop – we call it the “laptop from hell” – and when you look at what they’ve done as a family, where the son follows the father into these countries and they walk away with tens of millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s ridiculous.
‘And then the press doesn’t want to cover it, big tech doesn’t want to cover it.’
Bolling asked: ‘Is there anything you think has been done with the Bidens, Hunter, his father, that’s illegal?’
Trump pointed to a Fox News report claiming that Joe Biden was promised 10 percent equity in a deal with a Chinese energy firm that Hunter Biden allegedly helped broker 2017.
That report was based on an email chain purportedly found on Hunter’s laptop which sources said referred to Joe as ‘the big guy’ receiving the equity.
‘It’s terrible, it’s terrible,’ Trump said. He also pointed to the ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ Hunter received while serving on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, saying: ‘He knows nothing about energy.’
‘It’s a corrupt enterprise, there’s no question about it,’ Trump added.
Bolling then shifted the conversation to focus on Twitter and Facebook’s censorship of a bombshell New York Post article describing the contents of Hunter’s laptop.
‘Do you feel Twitter and Facebook are biased in this election?’ Bolling asked.
‘Oh, 100 percent,’ Trump replied. ‘Frankly, that’s turning out to be as big a story as the corruption itself.
‘They’re trying to protect [Biden] because that’s the way it is with the Democrats, that’s part of the Democratic Party.’
The president accused Twitter and Facebook of engaging in censorship and election interference ‘at a level nobody’s ever seen’.
Sinclair Broadcasting Network’s Eric Bolling (right) hosted the town hall in the White House Rose Garden
A significant portion of the hour-long discussion focused around the coronavirus pandemic, as Trump was asked to clarify his views on masks and whether he would change anything about America’s response to the crisis.
Early on, Bolling asked: ‘Why has the mask become such a political football? Would it be that bad if we just said: “You know what, open the economy, open your businesses, go to restaurants, open your stores, open your schools just wear a mask?”‘
‘I have no problem with it, I have no problem with a mask,’ Trump replied.
‘Frankly some people don’t like it, some people don’t like it scientifically. You have a lot of different views on the masks.
‘I mean look at [Dr Anthony] Fauci, where originally he said: “Don’t wear a mask,” and then he comes out and says: ‘Wear it.” That’s okay.’
Trump has made that claim about Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, on many occasions in the past – but it’s misleading.
Fauci did suggest in a March interview that it was not necessary for people to wear masks – prior to when the CDC made a formal facial covering recommendation in early April.
Fauci clarified those comments in July, telling the Washington Post: ‘Back then, the critical issue was to save the masks for the people who really needed them because it was felt that there was a shortage of masks.’
Bolling also asked Trump about the media’s fixation on his mask habits, saying: ‘There are a couple channels that make a living off of what you say and what you do with masks. Why not just take that away from them?’
Trump replied: ‘Well, I have done that, I said, wear a mask, socially distance, and all of those things, and people are going to do what they want to do.
‘You know, when you see my rallies, a lot of those people are actually wearing masks. And they’re outdoor rallies, which is very important. No, to me it’s not a big issue, I say wear it, it’s okay, I have no problem with it.’
Trump walks out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after receiving treatment for coronavirus on October 5
At another point in the town hall Bolling probed Trump more generally about the pandemic, asking: ‘Is there anything that you think you could have done differently, if you had a do-over on one aspect of the way you handled it, what would it be?’
‘Not much,’ Trump responded.
‘Look, it’s all over the world. You have a lot of great leaders, a lot of smart people. It’s all over the world. It came out of China. China should have stopped it,’ he added.
Trump’s immediate response did not account for the rising coronavirus infections across the country, including in the Midwest and other reasons, or the nation continuing to lead in the death toll.
Public health officials have pointed to a lack of social distancing, continued gatherings, reopenings despite high positivity test rates, and people’s refusal to embrace mask wearing and other steps.
With more than eight million cases, the US continues to lead the world, and is far ahead of other wealthy countries with advanced health systems. India, population 1.3 billion, is in second place and on an upward trajectory.
Later in the town hall Trump asserted that the only reason the US has most cases out of any country is because of testing.
Trump has often said that the US does more testing than any other country, contradicting public health data.
The president regularly touts a travel ban he instituted on flights from China, but his administration faced criticism in the spring for severe shortages of protective equipment and testing capacity.
Trump himself was hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, but he told Bolling: ‘I feel great, I feel really good, I had it, I recovered.’
He added that his wife Melania and son Barron are also doing well after they tested positive the same time he did.
He used 14-year-old Barron’s quick recovery as evidence that the virus doesn’t pose a major threat to young people.
Asked by an audience member if educators and students will be prioritized for vaccines, Trump quickly pivoted to say that older people are at the highest risk and need extra protection.