Earlier, CNN reported, citing audio from prominent US journalist Bob Woodward's interview with the president for his upcoming book "Rage," that Trump in February admitted to downplaying the deadly threat posed by COVID-19. CNN transcribed the recording - the actual audio clip has yet to be posted.
"On the day that we hit 190,000 dead from COVID 19, we just learned from [Washington Post reporter] Bob Woodward he [Trump] knew in January how deadly it was: He knew and played it down. He knowingly and willingly lied to the country for months," Biden said at a rally in Michigan on Wednesday. "If he had acted two weeks sooner, 54 000 lives would have been saved in March and April alone."
Biden accused Trump of failing to do his job on purpose.
"It's beyond despicable, it's a dereliction of duty. It's a disgrace," Biden said.
Later Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer echoed Biden's criticism in a Capitol Hill press conference and said there was now "damning proof that Donald Trump lied and people died," Schumer stated. He said Trump had treated COVID-19 as a public relations problem rather than a once-in-a-lifetime health crisis.