Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has fired off a cease and desist letter to TV stations, warning them to stop airing an ad from a pro-Joe Biden Super PAC that is a scathing attack on the president’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
The spot features a graph mapping coronavirus cases in the U.S. over the past two months, with audio of comments Trump has made downplaying the threat of the virus.
In their letter to stations, the Trump campaign says that the Super PAC, Priorities USA Action, “stitched together fragments from multiple speeches by President Trump to fraudulently and maliciously imply that President Trump called the coronavirus outbreak a ‘hoax.’ They contend that Trump was in fact “talking about the Democrat’s politicization of the outbreak when he used the word ‘hoax.’” FactCheck.org noted that Trump told reporters the next day that he was not calling the virus a hoax, but the Democrats’ response to it.
At a Feb. 28 rally, Trump said, “They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. 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.”
The campaign threatens to take legal action, but it’s just as likely an attempt to try to call attention to the Trump’s effort to refute the spot.
The Priorities USA Action ad does not explicitly say that Trump called the virus a “hoax.” It runs audio of Trump saying “This is their new hoax,” without identifying who he was talking about, as the number of coronavirus cases rises on the graph.
Josh Schwerin, senior strategist for Priorities USA, wrote on Twitter, “The Trump campaign is trying to bully TV stations into taking our ad down. They are not going to be successful because it is literally Trump in his own words. Let’s make sure as many people as possible see this ad.”
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