Biden slams AG Bill Barr as 'sick' for comparing lockdowns to slavery

Joe Biden slams Donald Trump as ‘close to criminal’ and AG Bill Barr as ‘sick’ for comparing lockdowns to slavery as he says he would mandate masks on federal land and levy FINES to set example for nation

  • Democratic nominee Joe Biden went after Attorney General Bill Barr for saying that coronavirus lockdowns were the ‘greatest intrusion’ after slavery 
  • ‘Quite frankly they’re sick,’ Biden said of Barr’s comments at a Thursday night CNN town hall with Anderson Cooper 
  • The former vice president pointed out ‘you lost your freedom because he didn’t act,’ aiming the comments at President Donald Trump 
  • The ex-veep said there’s never been a time when the American people ‘have not been able to stand up. This president should step down’ 
  • Biden talked to a number of Pennsylvanians who had recently experienced loss, including to the coronavirus 
  • CNN set up the event to look like a drive-in movie theater with Biden answering questions from audience members  

Democratic nominee Joe Biden went after Attorney General Bill Barr for saying that coronavirus lockdown orders were the ‘greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history’ since slavery – and called Donald Trump’s handling of Covid ‘close to criminal.’

‘Quite frankly they’re sick,’ Biden remarked of Barr’s comments at a Thursday night CNN town hall with Anderson Cooper, held just outside his hometown of Scranton, PA.

‘I never, ever thought I would see such a thoroughly, totally irresponsible administration.’ 

Biden said he was in disbelief that Barr would almost equate ‘following the recommendations of the scientific community’ to save lives during the coronavirus crisis to ‘people being put in chains.’ 

‘You lost your freedom because he didn’t act,’ Biden said – that comment likely intended for his political rival, President Donald Trump.  

‘You’ve got to level with the American people, shoot from the shoulder. There’s never been a time when they’ve have not been able to step up,’ Biden said. ‘This president should step down,’ the Democratic nominee added.

And he seized on the Bob Woodward tapes revealing Trump calling the virus ‘deadly stuff’ and admitting he liked ‘playing it down’ and said: ‘He knew it and he did nothing. It’s close to criminal.’

The former vice president said, in contrast, that he’d consider fining people on federal property – which is in the president’s jurisdiction – for not wearing masks, after having already called for a nationwide mask mandate, which he’d have to implement by putting pressure on governors. 

‘If you’re on federal property you must wear a mask,’ he said. ‘And we could have a fine for them not doing it.’ 

The town hall featured a number of people who experienced loss – a Republican nurse whose police officer husband died from cancer contracted after cleaning up Ground Zero post-9/11, an immunocompromised teacher whose wive lost her mother to COVID-19. Unlike the ABC News town hall earlier in the week with Trump, it did not feature solely undecided voters, and included questions from explicit Biden and Trump supporters.

 The event opened with a woman who lost her mother to the coronavirus.         

Democratic nominee Joe Biden went after President Donald Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr who said hat coronavirus lockdown orders were the ‘greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history’ since slavery

‘You’ve lost your freedom because he didn’t act,’ Joe Biden said blasting President Donald Trump’s inaction on the coronavirus during Thursday night’s CNN town hall outside of his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania 

Joe Biden (left) told Anderson Cooper (right) he’d consider fining people for not wearing masks on federal property if elected president

Audience members are photographed watching Joe Biden from outside their cars, as CNN set the town hall up to be like a drive-in movie theater

Joe Biden (left) talked to a number of people who experienced loss, including Joe Vadala (right) an immunocompromised teacher whose wife lost her mother to COVID-19 

A look at the drive-in movie theater set-up CNN constructed for Joe Biden’s Scranton-area town hall event 

‘First of all, I feel so badly for you,’ he told the woman. ‘You know, we talk about … almost 200,000 deaths and it’s almost like background noise,’ 

‘But it means a lot of empty chairs. It means a lot of children without their mothers or fathres. It means a lot of people not able to see their parents, so much, so my heart goes out to you,’ Biden said.    

And while the virus was top of mind, Biden was asked about the summer of racial unrest as well. 

Biden explained why he stuck up for peaceful protesters but criticized Trump for restarting his rallies. 

The ex-veep said COVID-19 safety was important on both scenarios. 

‘There is a big difference between people walking, moving along, and people sitting down, cheek to jaw, shoulder to shoulder, a thousand of them, breathing on one another, indoors and out, that causes real serious problems,’ he said. 

At one point, Cooper asked Biden if he believed he benefited from white privilege. 

In one of the taperecorded interviews between Trump and journalist Bob Woodward, Trump scoffed at the idea. 

‘Sure, I’ve benefited just because I don’t have to go through what my Black brothers and sisters have had to go through,’ Biden answered. 

Biden then made the point that growing up in Scranton, ‘we’re used to guys who look down their nose at us.’ 

‘Well I’ll tell you what bothered me, to tell you the truth, maybe it’s my Scranton roots, I don’t know,’ he told Cooper. ‘But when you guys started talking on television about Biden if he wins will be the first person without an Ivy League degree to be elected president.’ 

‘Who the hell makes you think I have to have an Ivy League degree to be president?’ Biden said, garnering applause from the audience. 

Biden would be the first president since President Ronald Reagan to not hold an Ivy League degree.   

‘We are as good as anybody else,’ Biden said. ‘And guys like Trump who inherited everything and squandered what they inherited are the people I’ve always had a problem with. Not the people busting their neck.’

Throughout the town hall, Biden continued to talk about the election was between Scranton and Park Avenue. 

‘All that Trump can see from Park Avenue is Wall Street. All he thinks about is the stock market,’ Biden said at one point. 

He also said that Trump downplayed the coronavirus crisis because his eyes were on Wall Street then as well. 

Biden repeatedly spoke of his background in Scranton, his connections to the wider area – including telling a questioner from Philadelphia ‘I married a Philly girl’ – and referred to his personal experience of grief and loss, with a series of questions at the start coming from people who had suffered bereavement, including a police officer’s widow as well as those whose families were hit by coronavirus.

The display of empathy played to Biden’s strengths as a campaigner, something which he has been unable to do for the past six months, and also presented a contrast to Trump’s town hall earlier in the week.

Hillary Clinton lost Scranton in the course of her defeat in Pennsylvania, one of the three ‘blue wall’ states which were won by Trump.

But after the event Biden said he would win Scranton. He had won applause from the audience for praising it and has returned repeatedly to it over the years.

Biden, 78, also stood throughout the town hall, despite chairs being on stage for him and Cooper, a contrast to Trump, 73, sitting throughout his ABC News town hall in Philadelphia on Tuesday.  

Trump had assailed Biden as ‘shot’ and physically and mentally incapable of becoming president, which Biden’s supporters say has simply lowered the bar on how he has to perform at the debates. 

His performance will be studied closely by Trump’s aides – and by Trump – ahead of the first presidential debate on September 29, a week on Tuesday.

Cooper asked Biden if he was practicing and if someone was playing Trump and Biden said ‘not so far,’ saying he was practicing being ‘concise.’ Unlike the town hall, the debate comes with time limits and moderator Chris Wallace proved a fierce enforcer of them in 2016. Two people are asking him questions, he said.

On Air Force One as the town hall began, Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows warned that Biden should not be underestimated as an opponent – even though Trump has been reported to have privately scorned practicing and said he would force Biden to stutter or make a gaffe.

‘To suggest that you shouldn’t take him seriously would be misguided,’ Meadows said, noting Biden’s almost five decades in electoral politics. 

Trump has also suggested that Biden was ‘on drugs or something’ when he performed well in the later Democratic primary debates, and suggested taking a drug test.

In Wisconsin Thursday he addressed a rally as Biden’s town hall concluded, and railed at Biden, claiming the Democrat used a teleprompter, while reading from two teleprompters himself.

His campaign accused Cooper of ‘giving Biden a total pass on his lies and misrepresentations’ and the questions being ‘an invitation for him to attack President Trump.’

Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller tweeted: ‘This town hall is an in-kind contribution to the Biden campaign.’

Drive-in with Biden: Obama’s vice-president’s town hall was in the format of a drive-in theater

Joe Biden’s town hall comes two days after President Donald Trump participated in a Philadelphia town hall, filmed indoors at the National Constitution Center, with only people posing questions as audience members. They wore masks and sat six feet apart 

CNN created a drive-in movie theater set-up inside a ball park for the event. 

‘Who knew drive-ins were coming back?’ Cooper remarked as the event opened. 

Biden’s audience consisted 250 people gathered, the campaign confirmed, keeping in line with Pennsylvania’s coronavirus regulations. 

The ball park is where the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders play. 

The old school drive-in has become a stand-in on the Democratic side for campaign rallies, as Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have preached caution about supporters attending gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Democratic Party set up a drive-in in a parking lot outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware on the final night of the Democratic National Convention so there would be an audience to cheer Biden and Harris as they emerged together as the official presidential ticket to watch fireworks.

Supporters watched the virtual convention on large screens and then cheered and honked their horns when Biden and Harris briefly appeared.  

Additionally, in cities around the country, watch parties were set up drive-in style so Democratic supporters could watch Biden’s nominating speech together.  

The town hall brings Biden – who was born in Scranton before moving to Wilmington – to the key swing state two days after President Donald Trump made the trek to Philadelphia for his own town hall with Pennsylvania voters. 

Trump’s town hall was produced by ABC News and was filmed indoors at the National Constitution Center, where the only audience was the likely voters questioning the president. 

They all sat six feet apart and wore masks, until they posed their questions to Trump. 

The president has been more cavalier about his campaigning amid a continued spread of the coronavirus. 

Last weekend he held his first indoor rally since June in the state of Nevada. 

He’s packed thousands into airport hangars as well. 

The campaign has encouraged mask-wearing of attendees, but droves have rebelled. 

At a recent rally in New Hampshire, Trump supporters booed when a voice over the loudspeaker encouraged them to wear masks. 

The president told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he wasn’t personally worried about contracting the coronavirus at these events.  

‘I’m on a stage and it’s very far away,’ he told the paper. ‘And so I’m not at all concerned.’   

Joe Biden says he will accept the ‘full election results and count every vote’ as he slams Donald Trump for refusing to agree to accept them in advance

Former Vice President Joe Biden skewered President Donald Trump for refusing to say outright he would accept the results of the election, then provided his own answer to the question. 

‘Sure, the full results. Count every vote,’ Biden responded, asked by CNN host Anderson Cooper about the freighted topic during a live, outdoor town hall-style meeting. 

‘Look, i mean, can anybody – any of you are history majors out there think of any president early on who said I’m not sure I’m going to accept the results of the election? It depends?’ Biden said, raising his voice for emphasis. ‘What’s happened to us? This is not who we are. This is not what America is. No president’s ever said anything like that.’

Former Vice President Joe Biden blasted President Donald Trump for refusing to say he will accept the election results. ‘Sure, the full results. Count every vote,’ Biden responded when asked if he would do so

Responding to a question about mail-in voting – the subject of repeated escalating attacks by President Trump – Biden responded: ‘Look, if the president had even remote confidence that he was likely to win the election, he wouldn’t be doing this.’

He told Cooper: ‘Remember, I wasn’t on your show, but I said some months ago, I predict the president is going to try to move the Election Day. Everybody said oh he’d never do that.  Guess what? He suggested maybe we should move the election date, postpone the election,’ Biden said.

Powerful Senate Republicans immediately shot down the idea after Trump floated it.  

President Donald Trump has refused to say he will accept the election results. He said in July: ‘Trump said in July: ‘I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either’

In this file photo, absentee voting manager Matt Kelly holds the ballot envelopes that will be used to mail ballots at the Franklin County Board of Elections office in Columbus on Wednesday, July 29

Trump loyalist Attorney General Bill Barr has also blasted mail-in voting

‘He’s done every single thing, including having a postmaster general who still doesn’t know who dismantled those machines – who ordered picking up those places to mail your ballots,’ Biden said. ‘I mean, it just is all about trying to delegitimize the effort.’

Trump told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace in July when pressed on whether he would accept the results: ‘I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.’

Trump took a similar posture in 2016, when he said: ‘I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense.’ 

Cooper asked him point blank: ‘Would you commit tonight to accepting the results of the election?’

Biden’s call to ‘count every vote’ only hints at the political and legal battle that lies ahead. He is assembling a team of top litigators, including former solicitors general, to fight to allow ballots and anticipating challenges.

Trump continues to rail against mail-in voting, as he did at the White House yesterday.  

Trump tweeted Thursday morning: ‘Because of the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots which will be sent to ‘voters’, or wherever, this year, the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want. Another election disaster yesterday. Stop Ballot Madness!,’   

Asked by a Philadelphia voter what he would do to secure mail-in voting if elected, Biden said: ‘I would not try to throw into question the legitimacy of the election like this president and the people around him have done.’    

He spoke about an election two years ahead, when COVID-19 will hopefully be on the wane. ‘Look it’s all about people showing up and voting.  And i’m confident notwithstanding all the efforts the president’s made, I think you’re going to see a massive turnout,’ he said. 

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