The woman who publicly recounted how her father died of COVID-19 because he trusted President Donald Trump doubled down on her criticism Thursday following the revelation that the president told journalist Bob Woodward that he intentionally played down the pandemic even though he knew it was “deadly.”
The woman, Kristin Urquiza, who blamed Trump during an emotional speech at the Democratic National Convention last month for the death of her father and blasted his overall handling of the pandemic, tore into the president anew Thursday during a phone call with reporters organized by Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
“That betrayal of my father and our country is even more clear now. The president’s lies are undeniable and inexcusable,” Urquiza said on the call.
“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,” she said. “The sad thing is that it didn’t have to be this way. These deaths were needless and preventable.”
More than 192,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, and there have been nearly 6.4 million confirmed infections.
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News emerged Wednesday that Trump had acknowledged the dangers of the coronavirus in a interview with Woodward in February and had acknowledged downplaying the threat in an interview a month later.
“I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” Trump said in a call with Woodward on March 19, according to an audio clip posted Wednesday on The Washington Post’s website. The newspaper obtained a copy of the book, “Rage,” which is scheduled to be released next week.
In the same interview, Trump acknowledged that the disease was more deadly than he had previously thought.
“Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob. But just today, and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older,” Trump said, according to an audio clip, and then he added, “Young people, too, plenty of young people.”
Biden and other top Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, slammed Trump over his comments, with Biden calling it “a life-and-death betrayal of the American people.”
Pelosi continued her criticism Thursday, telling reporters that “what the president showed in those comments showed his contempt.”
“Contempt for the American people and their health, contempt for science, contempt for any real effort to crush the virus, contempt for his supporters, their children, their parents,” she said.
Urquiza, whose father died in Arizona in June from COVID-19, delivered a blistering rebuke of Trump’s handling of the pandemic during the Democratic convention last month.
“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life,” Urquiza said then. “Donald Trump may not have caused the coronavirus, but his dishonesty and his irresponsible actions made it so much worse.”
IMAGE: Mark Anthony Urquiza (Courtesy Kristin Urquiza)
Urquiza said her father, Mark Anthony Urquiza, trusted Trump and other Republican leaders when they said that the coronavirus was under control and that it would disappear. She said that her dad went to a karaoke bar with friends once Arizona’s stay-at-home order was lifted in May and a that few weeks later he was put on a ventilator. He died in the intensive care unit “with a nurse holding his hand,” she said.
Republicans, meanwhile, mostly avoided questions Thursday about Trump’s comments to Woodward.
“I have not paid that much attention,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told reporters. “The discussion about the books and who said what when is probably a question for the White House.
“We are where we are. All of us have tried under very difficult circumstances to do the right things to help the country survive and recover,” he added.