For more than an hour, President Trump pilloried Joe Biden, progressive Democrats, mail-in voting and a range of other people and topics in a rambling speech on Tuesday that was supposed to be about new U.S. sanctions on China.
Trump opened the grievance-filled diatribe in the White House Rose Garden by announcing he had just signed an executive order and bipartisan legislation slapping fresh sanctions on China as punishment for a new law Beijing has enacted that compromises the independence of Hong Kong.
But Trump couldn’t stay on topic for long and quickly switched gears to go after Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee who’s trouncing the president in most election polling.
“He never did anything except make very bad decisions, especially on foreign policy,” Trump said of Biden’s tenure as vice president. “So Joe Biden and President Obama freely allowed China to pillage our factories, plunder our communities and steal our most precious secrets.”
The president then took aim at Biden’s son, Hunter, by regurgitating debunked right-wing conspiracy theories about his work in Ukraine.
“In Ukraine, he got $83,000 a month and I guess an upfront payment of $3 million dollars … to work for Burisma, and you all know about Burisma, but nothing happened and nobody cares,” Trump said.
The House impeached Trump last year for trying to pressure Ukraine’s president into launching investigations of Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma, an energy company in the European country.
Moving on, Trump blasted Joe Biden’s newly unveiled $2 trillion climate plan, which proposes to steer the U.S. away from fossil fuel and invest in renewable energy.
“It’s a hard left crusade against American energy,” said Trump, who once called climate change a “hoax.”
The president said Biden’s climate-conscious plan would “demolish” the U.S. economy and confusingly claimed it would also destroy people’s air conditioning units.
“Your air conditioning is not the same as the good old days,” Trump said.
Trump did not acknowledge that the U.S. economy is already fragile because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, he kept his focus on Biden by deriding the ex-vice president’s decision to tap Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) as a campaign adviser on climate change issues.
“A young woman, not talented in many ways,” Trump said of the progressive lawmaker from the Bronx.
Firing back in real-time, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted at Trump: “A man whose entire life was built on a rich blend of daddy’s money and financial fraud accuses me, daughter of a house cleaner who won multiple elections to Congress by the age of 30, of not having talent. You can tell from his delivery that even HE doesn’t believe it.”
Back in the Rose Garden, Trump sought to deflect attention from his administration’s teetering coronavirus response by claiming things would have been much worse if Biden was in charge.
”If we had listened to Joe Biden, hundreds of thousands of additional lives would have been lost,” Trump said.
More than 136,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 on Trump’s watch — the worst death toll in the world and one that public health experts say could’ve been far lower if the president had taken the pandemic more seriously from the start.
With his focus on November, Trump dedicated part of his freewheeling speech to his baseless charge that mail-in voting will lead to “tremendous fraud” in the presidential election.
“I think it’s subject to tremendous fraud and being rigged,” he said.
There’s no evidence to back up Trump’s claims about mail-in voting. Many states plan to make mail-in ballots widely available in order to make voting safer amid the pandemic.
Though he didn’t touch on it during the speech, Trump made controversial comments about the Confederate flag in an interview with CBS News before walking into the Rose Garden.
“Well, people love it,” Trump told the network after being asked if he understands why the racist symbol is considered offensive. “I know people that like the Confederate flag and they’re not thinking about slavery.”