A senior adviser to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign doubled down Sunday on baseless allegations leveled by the president that U.S. doctors are inflating coronavirus deaths for profit as the country sees record levels of new infections.
“I don’t think he was attacking anybody. He was talking about how most Americans want to safely and securely re-open the country,” Jason Miller said on ABC’s “This Week” when shown video of Trump’s claims from a campaign rally Friday.
“Jason, we all just saw it. He talked about doctors inflating Covid deaths for money,” host George Stephanopoulos interjected.
But Miller did not back down from the claim, arguing he wouldn’t “get into the billing aspects of which there have been many reports,” declining to provide specific evidence but pointing to unnamed “independent things pointing to that” and pivoting back to his talking points.
At a rally in the state of Michigan on Friday, the president told attendees that “our doctors get more money if someone dies from Covid,” and so “when in doubt choose Covid.”
“Our doctors are smart people, so what they do is say, ‘I’m sorry but, you know, everybody dies of Covid,’” he continued, asserting that each coronavirus death was worth “like $2,000 more” without providing proof of his claim.
The comment drew swift blowback from Democratic nominee Joe Biden, as well as various medical groups.
The head of the American Medical Association on Friday denounced attacks on the motivations of health care workers during the pandemic as “malicious, outrageous and comply misguided,” without mentioning Trump by name.
Trump’s comment came on the same day that the U.S. set a new record for daily coronavirus cases with more than 99,000 new cases reported. Across the country, more than a dozen states are now experiencing record levels of hospitalization and deaths are also beginning to rise.
Biden ripped Trump for his suggestion on Friday, telling the president to “do his job” rather than attack medical professionals.
Former President Barack Obama slammed the assertions while campaigning for Biden in Detroit on Saturday, arguing that they revealed Trump’s character.
“He cannot fathom, he does not understand the notion that somebody would risk their life to save others without trying to make a buck,” Obama said.
Given the chance to clarify his position Sunday, Miller only repeated his vague claim that there had been “a number of reports that have raised issues out there regarding billing and things like that.”
Biden campaign adviser Anita Dunn seized on Miller’s comments in an interview on “This Week,” saying at the beginning of her interview that “I’m astonished Jason Miller spent as much time as he did without ever saying that the doctors who are on the frontlines in this coronavirus that this country faces, without ever defending them, and without basically saying no they’re not in it for money.”
“It tells you everything you need to know about the difference between the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign and between Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” she contended.
Throughout the pandemic, which has infected more than 9 million Americans and killed more than 230,000, Trump allies have repeatedly sought to play down the grim reality of the virus, circulating claims earlier this year that hospitals were improperly attributing deaths to coronavirus in an effort to inflate statistics.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said he hadn’t seen evidence of Trump’s accusation that doctors are profiteering off the virus but expressed the same skepticism of the death toll, which has been borne out by a surge of what experts call “excessive deaths” in the U.S.
“We have seen on multiple occasions instances where people have claimed that they have died from Covid-19 and that wasn’t the case,”he said. “We saw Fox News actually did a whole expose on an individual that got in a motorcycle accident — maybe he had Covid but died in a head-on collision. Fox News exposed that entire hypocrisy, so look, I think we are categorizing sometimes individuals who may have Covid that are dying from that and claiming it as a Covid death, which is not accurate.”
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