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Liberal super PAC expanding ad buy after Trump campaign threatens legal action

The Hill logo The Hill 3/26/2020 Jonathan Easley
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Priorities USA, the largest Democratic super PAC, is expanding an ad buy accusing President Trump of mismanaging the coronavirus crisis a day after the Trump campaign threatened legal action against TV stations airing the ad in key battleground states.

Priorities USA originally put $6 million behind the ad, which is running in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. On Thursday, the super PAC announced the ad would begin running in Arizona with an additional $600,000 investment behind it.

"Donald Trump spent weeks downplaying the threat of the coronavirus and his inaction left the country unprepared for this crisis. Even today, his lies are putting the health of millions of Americans at risk," said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA. "The fact that Trump is going to such great lengths to keep the American people from hearing his own words adds to the urgency of communicating them far and wide. Trump doesn't want voters to know the truth. We will not be intimidated. We'll keep telling the truth and holding Donald Trump accountable."

The ad, which is titled "Exponential Threat," splices together different audio clips of Trump downplaying the virus over a graphic showing the number of cases on the rise.

"The coronavirus, this is their new hoax," Trump says 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 is gonna be down to close to zero."

However, fact-checkers have said it is wrong to claim that Trump ever called the coronavirus a "hoax." Rather, Trump has said that Democratic efforts to politicize the virus was "their new hoax."

On Wednesday, Trump's legal counsel sent a letter to television stations airing the ad demanding they "cease and desist" from airing the ad if they want to "avoid costly and time consuming litigation."

"Given the foregoing, should you fail to immediately cease broadcasting PUSA's ad 'Exponential Threat', Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. will have no choice but to pursue all legal remedies available to it in law and in equity," the letter states. "We will not stand idly by and allow you to broadcast false, deceptive, and misleading information concerning President's Trump's healthcare positions without consequence."

Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign and several other Democratic groups have used the "hoax" remarks in their own videos questioning Trump's leadership.

The Trump campaign has asked Twitter to apply its "manipulated media" tag to videos claiming that Trump called the virus a hoax, but the social media giant has so far declined to intervene.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Liberal super PAC expanding ad buy after Trump campaign threatens legal action © Getty Images Liberal super PAC expanding ad buy after Trump campaign threatens legal action


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