Bernie Sanders warned HBO Real Time host Bill Maher that it’s entirely possible that President Donald Trump will direct coronavirus relief money to states based on whether he needs to win them in the 2020 presidential race.
“If you think that during a campaign, you’re not going to see a lot of money from the Trump administration going to battleground states Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, you would be grossly underestimating the venality of this president,” Sanders said from Burlington, VT, where he was connected by video chat to Maher, who returned this week to host his HBO from his Los Angeles home.
Maher had asked Sanders how he would “stop a president who send aid to Florida, because he likes the governor there, but not here to California or Illinois or Massachusetts.”
Sanders responded, “It is literally beyond comprehension. We have a president who has done so much harm in this entire process.”
Sanders said that Trump’s downplaying of the crisis “will cost us.”
“His actions or inactions, in not listening to the scientists, spouting off ridiculous ideas, is going to cost the lives of many thousands of America,” he said.
While the governors of Illinois and Massachusetts have criticized or disagreed with Trump’s coronavirus response, California’s Gavin Newsom said earlier this week that the administration had been responsive to the state’s needs.
Maher did not ask Sanders what his plans are for the 2020 race, given that Joe Biden holds a lead of about 300 delegates. In recent days, Sanders has said in other interviews that he and his advisers are “assessing where we’re at,” acknowledging that he has a narrow path to victory.
Sanders talked extensively about how he would address the coronavirus crisis and the economic fallout — a situation that he said that he risks an economic collapse “that may end up being worse than the Great Depression.”
“With 30 to 40 million people unemployed in the next couple of months, it’s unprecedented in our lifetimes, that is for sure,” Sanders said.
He said that the U.S. should do what the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and France are doing, in which workers continue to receive 100% of their paychecks during the crisis and get the healthcare they need.
“The main thing is, we have to prevent a breakdown in the entire system — that’s how dangerous it is right now,” he said.
Sanders voted for the relief bill — as did the rest of the Senate — but he criticized its $500 billion fund to assist major corporations, saying that it gives money to major companies with few strings attached and not enough accountability.
Maher posed the question of what he’d do if Trump loses the election and refuses to concede — or even leave the White House.
“Well, you mobilize the American people in a way they have never been mobilized before, to essentially remind this president that whether he likes it or not, we live in a democracy,” said Sanders, linked by video chat from Burlington, VT. “And the majority of the American people, through the electoral process, will determine who the next president is. So what you are describing is a scenario in regard to democracy in America.”
“Do I think you are crazy and off the wall?” Sanders added. “I suspect not, but I think we have to make it clear from now on throughout the campaign and the day after he loses, that if he loses this election, he will be out of office and replaced by the next president.”