Live coverage and fact check

 Live coverage and fact check

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to Vice President Mike Pence during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to Vice President Mike Pence during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Julio Cortez/AP

“The President said it was a hoax,” Sen. Kamala Harris claimed in criticizing the administration’s downplaying of coronavirus. 

Harris is likely referring to Trump’s comments during a February rally, which the Biden campaign portrayed as Trump calling coronavirus a “hoax” in a September campaign ad.  

Facts First: This is misleading. Taken in totality, Trump’s comments at the Feb. 28 rally indicate that he is deriding Democrats for attacking his performance on coronavirus. A full 56 seconds pass between the two clips the campaign ad edited together.

In this section of his rally speech, Trump began by saying that “the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” ridiculing Democrats for attacking his administration’s performance addressing the virus. The President then compared this attack to the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and calling his impeachment a “hoax.”

Trump then said, “They’d been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.”

 Here is what Trump said in full: 

“Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus — you know that right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa. They can’t even count. No, they can’t. They can’t count their votes.
One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They’d been doing it since you got in.’ It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.”

The next day Trump was asked about this comment and tried to clarify what he said, claiming he was “referring to the action that [the Democrats] take to try and pin this on somebody, because we’ve done such a good job. The hoax is on them.”

That said, Trump’s clarification has not stopped some of his supporters from believing the pandemic is, in fact, a hoax. One Trump supporter attending a campaign rally in Michigan on Sept. 10 was asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta why he was not wearing a mask. “Because there’s no Covid,” he said. “It’s a fake pandemic created to destroy the United States of America.”

For more CNN fact checks, visit our fact check database here

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