The ad, “Exponential Threat,” features audio clips of Trump downplaying the virus at different moments while the onscreen graphic shows the rising number of cases.
“This is their new hoax,” Trump can be heard saying in the ad, which was funded by Priorities USA, a pro-Joe Biden PAC.
That quote came from a Trump rally in North Charleston, South Carolina where the president also said “Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus” before describing various Democratic “hoaxes” and assuring the crowd that “our country is doing so great.”
Other Trump quotes that appear in the ad: “We have it totally under control,” “It’s one person coming in from China,” “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” “When you have 15 people, and within a couple of days it’s gonna be down to close to zero.”
At first, attorneys for America First Action, Trump’s official super PAC, were the ones who demanded that TV stations in key battleground states stop airing the anti-Trump commercial, claiming it was deceptive.
However, TV stations refused to pull the ad and Priorities USA pointed out that America First Action didn’t even have standing to make the demand, RawStory reported.
So attorneys for the Donald J. Trump for President campaign sent their own cease-and-desist letter, one that suggested that not removing the ad “could put your station’s license in jeopardy” with the Federal Communications Commission.
In the letter, which can be seen below, the attorneys accuse Priorities USA of stitching together fragments from multiple Trump speeches to “fraudulently and maliciously imply” that he called the coronavirus outbreak a “hoax.”
The attorneys claim Trump “was talking about the Democrat’s politicization of the outbreak when he used the word ‘hoax.’”
The letter claims that because the ad’s central point is “deliberately false and misleading, your station has an obligation to cease and desist from airing it immediately to comply with FCC licensing requirements, to serve the public interest, and to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation.”
The Trump campaign has asked Twitter to tag videos claiming that Trump called the virus a hoax as “manipulated media,” but, so far, the social media network hasn’t complied, according to The Hill.
Meanwhile, Priorities USA doesn’t seem too worried about the legal threats ― especially since they’ve helped the video go viral:
The trump campaign sent a cease and desist letter to Priorities USA for this ad. So I’m retweeting it. pic.twitter.com/0Q1QO9TeQT
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) March 26, 2020
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified the location of a Trump rally. It was in North Charleston, South Carolina, not North Carolina.
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