“Sleepy Joe was involved in this very much,” the president argued, using the derogatory nickname he long ago penned for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Trump’s interview on Fox News and his accusation against the former vice president come the day after the House Intelligence Committee released long-awaited transcripts with dozens of witnesses that took part in their probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the then-Trump presidential campaign colluded with Moscow.
The transcripts indicated that top Obama officials said they knew of no “direct” evidence of collusion involving the Trump campaign, despite their concerns and suspicions.
However, Biden is not typically a figure who has been linked to the origins of that probe, and it’s unclear what Trump was referring to with his comments Friday.
Fox News reached out to the Biden campaign for reaction to the president’s claim, but has not yet received a response.
The Russian investigation began in 2016, during Biden’s last year as vice president in the Obama administration.
In the interview, Trump once again took aim at Biden, saying that the Democrats “have a bad candidate” and calling the former vice president “incompetent.”
The former vice president has been holding virtual campaign events and fundraisers online since the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country in mid-March. Biden has operated exclusively from his home in Delaware.
Trump said that if Biden asked for rapid coronavirus testing, he’d quickly make it available to his Democratic challenger because “I’d love to see him get out of the basement so he can speak. He’s locked in a basement somewhere and every time he talks, it’s like a good thing.”
And Trump speculated that Democrats “don’t want him to come out.”
The president once again declined to take aim at Biden over the sexual assault allegations the former vice president is facing.
“He’s got to fight that battle. I’ve had battles too where I’ve had false accusations many times. I think you understand that,” said Trump, who has denied over a dozen accusations of sexual assault and harassment in recent years.
Asked about allegations from former Biden staffer Tara Reade that the then-senator from Delaware sexually assaulted her in 1993, the president answered: “I don’t know if it’s false or not. I mean Joe’s going to have to prove whatever he has to prove, or she has to prove it, but that’s a battle he has to fight. I’ve had many false accusations made, I can tell you that. Many. And maybe this is a false accusation. Frankly, I hope it is for his sake.”
Biden has adamantly denied it, and his campaign has underscored inconsistencies in Reade’s account.
Meanwhile, Biden has been escalating his criticism of Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
“Every step of the way, President Trump has ignored the experts, downplayed the threat COVID-19 posed, and misled the American people — and we’re all paying the price every single day. I promise you, I will do the opposite,” he tweeted Thursday.
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