Trump sons provoke outrage with baseless attacks on Biden and lockdown
* Donald Trump Jr says pedophile allusion was ‘joking around’ * Eric Trump claims coronavirus is a political hoaxDonald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, the US president’s oldest sons, have attracted fierce criticism for attacking Joe Biden and Democrats in terms most observers considered beyond the pale even in America’s toxic political climate.Trump Jr posted to Instagram a meme which baselessly insinuated that Biden, his father’s probable opponent at the polls in November, was a pedophile.Eric Trump claimed Democrats were using the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 90,000 in America, for political gain.Both claims were made on Saturday.In the face of fierce opprobrium, Trump Jr said he had been “joking around”.But he also pursued the matter, accusing the former vice-president of “unwanted touching” and including in a tweet pictures taken from congressional swearing-in ceremonies and presented in misleading fashion.In a statement, Biden’s spokesman, Andrew Bates, said: “No repulsive, manipulative tactic will change the subject from how almost 90,000 Americans have paid for Donald Trump’s coronavirus negligence with their lives and how the booming economy he inherited from the Obama-Biden administration is now suffering from depression-level job losses.”Biden has faced and acknowledged accusations of inappropriate touching from adult women. He is accused of sexual assault by Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer. The former vice-president flatly denies the claim.Donald Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct or assault by multiple women. Though he was recorded boasting about grabbing women by the genitals, he denies all such accusations.In 2016, five women who were contestants in the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant told BuzzFeed that Trump, who owned the event, barged into dressing rooms while they were changing and made no attempt to leave. Trump’s campaign dismissed the claims. Trump has admitted to such behaviour at adult pageants.Earlier this year Trump Jr, 42, told Axios his father sometimes tells him to tone down his attacks on Twitter. His response, he said, was: “I learned it by watching you.”Eric Trump, 36, spoke to the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on Saturday night. He accused Democrats of using the coronavirus outbreak for political and electoral gain.“You watch,” he said, “they’ll milk it every single day between now and 3 November [election day]. And guess what, after 3 November, coronavirus will magically, all of a sudden, go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.”Biden responded again, with his communications director, Kate Bedingfield, saying: “We’re in the middle of the biggest public health emergency in a century, with almost 90,000 Americans dead, 1.5 million infected and 36 million workers newly jobless.“So for Eric Trump to claim that the coronavirus is a political hoax that will ‘magically’ disappear is absolutely stunning and unbelievably reckless.”Most public health experts expect the pandemic to remain a serious problem in the US for months to come, with serious danger of a deadly resurgence later in the year.On Monday, the Associated Press reported on how the Trump campaign is revving up “smokescreen” efforts to distract voters from the pandemic and economic crisis as the election gathers pace.Attacks on Biden such as those pursued by Trump Jr are thereby part of a wide-ranging attempt to echo attacks on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in 2016.The AP reported that “Biden’s team doesn’t believe a pervasive narrative like ‘Hillary’s emails’ will shadow this campaign”.Mike Donilon, a longtime Biden adviser, was quoted as saying: “We have a president who doesn’t want to talk about the central issue in this campaign right now. This isn’t new. It’s not like Trump started attacking the vice-president today or yesterday. He’s been at him all year long.”Donilon said “people have a really good understanding of who Joe Biden is”.But Jason Miller, a former Trump campaign adviser, said accelerating, aggressive and unscrupulous attacks on Biden were “a reminder that Trump is the outsider trying to take on those who were entrenched in power for decades”.
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