Apr 23, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden mocks Trump on anniversary of COVID bleach controversy


Trump at a COVID press briefing with Dr. Deborah Birx on April 18, 2020. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Biden mocked former President Trump Tuesday over his infamous suggestion — delivered at a White House briefing exactly four years ago — that COVID could be treated with an "injection" of disinfectant.

  • "Don't inject bleach. And don't vote for the guy who told you to inject bleach," Biden tweeted.

Why it matters: The Biden campaign sees the viral moment as a perfect encapsulation of the chaos and uncertainty that surrounded the Trump presidency in the early days of the pandemic.

  • The campaign is intent on reminding the American public how Trump handled the historic crisis, especially with polling suggesting views of his presidency have become far more positive since the fall of 2020.
  • "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" a Democratic National Committee account tweeted in response to a clip of Trump's comments blasted out by the Biden campaign.

Flashback: Trump made the stunning suggestion during one of his signature, free-wheeling COVID press conferences on April 23, 2020.

  • Discussing the effects of light and humidity on how the virus spreads, Trump claimed that his health advisers were going to "test" whether "very powerful light" could be brought "inside the body" to kill COVID.
  • He then continued: "And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. ... It would be interesting to check that."

Zoom out: Trump's comments prompted the maker of disinfectants Lysol and Dettol to issue a statement warning that "under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body."

  • "For me, it was the craziest and most surreal moment I had ever witnessed in a presidential press conference," veteran ABC News journalist Jonathan Karl told Politico a year later.
  • Dr. Deborah Birx, one of Trump's COVID advisers, said in 2022 that the incident was a "tragedy on many levels" and that she wishes she had spoken out.

What they're saying: "Turns out bringing 'light inside the body' did not kill COVID as Trump suggested – but this campaign will continue shining a light on Donald Trump's chaos, confusion, and division that devastated this country four years ago," Biden deputy campaign manager Rob Flaherty told Axios in a statement.

Go deeper: Trump claims comments that disinfectants could treat coronavirus were sarcastic

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