The Slatest

Eric Trump: Coronavirus Shutdowns Are Democratic Plot to Stop Father From Holding Rallies

Eric Trump points from backstage prior to speaking during a press conference in Des Moines, IA, on February 3, 2020.
Eric Trump points from backstage prior to speaking during a press conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on Feb. 3. Jim Watson/Getty Images

It was a big weekend for President Donald Trump’s sons. First, Donald Trump Jr. made waves with a baseless suggestion that former Vice President Joe Biden is a pedophile, and then his younger brother characterized the coronavirus-related shutdowns as part of a Democratic strategy to win in November. That was the message from Eric Trump during an interview with Fox News on Saturday night in which he predicted that concerns over COVID-19 would “magically all of a sudden go away” after Election Day.

As the death toll from the coronavirus in the United States crossed the 90,000 mark, the president’s son was asked about what the virus meant for his father’s reelection aspirations. And the rising death toll wasn’t even part of the conversation as Eric Trump said his father’s presumptive opponent was celebrating the current crisis. “Listen, Biden loves this. Biden can’t go onstage without making some horrible blunder. I mean even from his basement, he’s making awful gaffes every single day. So, his campaign is thrilled that he’s not going out there,” Eric Trump told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. “They think they’re taking away Donald Trump’s greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time.”

Eric Trump went on to predict that Democrats “will milk it every single day between now and November 3rd.” And then once the election is over, everyone will just forget about the coronavirus. “And guess what, after November 3rd, coronavirus will magically, all of the sudden, go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen,” he predicted.

With a heavy hint of a conspiracy, Eric Trump said Democrats were “trying to deprive” his father of “his greatest asset, which is the fact that the American people love him, the fact that he’s relatable, and the fact that he can go out there and draw massive crowds.” While Biden “can’t get 10 people in a room” Trump is “getting 50,000 in a room.” Eric Trump went on to describe that effort as a “very cognizant strategy” that many Democrats are carrying out.

If Eric Trump’s words sound familiar, that is because he seems to be harking back to two claims that his father made in the past. Before the crisis exploded, Trump said at a rally in February that the way Democrats were criticizing his administration’s handling of the coronavirus was “their new hoax.” Eric Trump didn’t quite use those words, but he did say that when it came to coronavirus coverage, the media are acting as a “propaganda arm” of the Democratic Party: “They’re doing it for one reason: They want to hurt Trump.” His comment on how the virus would “magically” go away also echoes how his father had predicted how “one day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.”

Biden’s campaign harshly criticized Eric Trump on Sunday for his comments, saying that “to claim that the coronavirus is a political hoax that will ‘magically’ disappear is absolutely stunning and unbelievably reckless.” Kate Bedingfield, the deputy campaign manager and communications director, said in the statement that Eric Trump’s words were only the latest example of how “Trump’s campaign knows he can’t run on that dismal record so they’re desperate to do whatever they can to throw up a smokescreen to try to conceal his historic mismanagement of this crisis.”

Update, May 17, 2020: This post has been updated with new information since it was first published.