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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden went after Attorney General Bill Barr during a CNN Town Hall Thursday evening, calling Barr’s comments linking coronavirus restrictions to slavery “outrageous.”
“What Bill Barr recently said is outrageous,” Biden said. “I will tell you what takes away your freedom, not being able to see your kid, not being able to go to the football game or baseball game, not seeing your mom or dad sick in the hospital, not being able to do the things, that’s what is costing us our freedom.”
In a Wednesday question-and-answer session at Hillsdale College, Barr was asked about the constitutionality of the coronavirus mandates that have surfaced during the pandemic, to which the U.S. attorney general said states should have allowed businesses to “adapt” and create their own rules rather than enforcing lockdowns, which prevented people from working.
“Putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest,” Barr said. “Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”
Barr received staunch criticism from Democrats for associating the two issues.
Biden on Thursday also condemned President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, blaming him for the number of lives lost.
“It’s been a failure by this president to deal with this virus,” Biden told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Thursday night. “And he knew about it. He knew the details of it, he knew it in clear terms,” Biden continued before questioning how many lives could have been saved if Trump had acted sooner.
Biden blasted the president’s lack of support for any mandate on masks and facial coverings, adding that if he became president he would not have the authority to make a national mask mandate but that he would call governors and mayors to encourage them to enforce local mask rules.
“Look, this is about saving people’s lives. There’s no question it saves people’s lives,” Biden said.
Biden also applauded the Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert R. Redfield, for “standing up” to Trump over the issue of mask-wearing.
During a Senate hearing earlier this week, the CDC director said that wearing a mask was still more effective than receiving a vaccination.
“The rank-and-file people, the scientists are solid and they’re serious,” Biden said. “But you’ve seen how the president has tried to push things through and put a lot of pressure on them.”
Trump rejected Redfield’s comments, calling him “confused.”
“Wearing this mask is about making sure, and when you wear it, making sure no one else gets sick,” Biden said. “It’s not to protect you so much, but to make sure you don’t infect someone else. I call that a patriotic requirement. I call that what we should be doing right now. And if the President had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people would still be alive.”