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Top presidential historian on Trump's legacy: 'He was largely responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans who did not need to die'

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  • Presidential historian Michael Beschloss told MSNBC that President Donald Trump's legacy will always be tied to the catastrophic COVID-19 death toll in the US.

  • "Donald Trump is not going to change the record. He was largely responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans who did not need to die," Beschloss said.

  • As of Wednesday, nearly 339,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 under Trump's watch. It's the highest reported COVID-19 death toll in the world.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Video: President Trump has not conceded the election. Watch how others did.

Michael Beschloss, a prominent presidential historian, in an interview with MSNBC this week said that historians will need time to fully assess President Donald Trump's legacy but that he'll never be able to escape the COVID-19 death toll.

"Donald Trump is not going to change the record. He was largely responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans who did not need to die," Beschloss said. "Millions of others who suffered from covid did not need to suffer…This is really Nero's fiddling while Rome burns."

The US has the highest numbers of reported COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the world.

As of Wednesday morning, there have been over 19.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 339,000 reported deaths from the virus in the US, according to Johns Hopkins. Public health experts have consistently criticized Trump's handling of the pandemic, contending that a more coherent response from the president could've prevented tens of thousands of deaths.

Beschloss and Mehdi Hasan, who interviewed the historian while guest-hosting MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes," also excoriated Trump over his recent actions that nearly derailed the newest COVID-19 stimulus bill.

Trump delayed economic assistance to millions Americans by initially refusing to sign a $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package this month. The president said he wanted the $600 direct payments included as part of the legislation to be bumped up to $2000.

But Trump's last-minute demands went against what his own treasury secretary and Republican leaders in Congress had pushed for in lengthy, tedious negotiations over the stimulus with Democrats. Critics of the president have said he essentially delayed desperately needed assistance to Americans in order to score cheap political points.

Beschloss said that top-ranked presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln, were known for their compassion and empathy. But Trump does not qualify in this regard, he said.

"Donald Trump is the kind of person that we have never ever seen before in the presidency, and I hope we never ever see again," Beschloss said. "When you've got a president who has no empathy, who has no compassion, you see a spectacle like what we've seen this week."

Watch the clip below:

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