Donald Trump and His Son Have an Insane New Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory

Donald and Eric Trump on the campaign trail in 2016Jae C. Hong/AP

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Eric Trump made headlines this weekend with an outlandish accusation. Democrats, he claimed, are seeking to prolong coronavirus lockdowns in order to prevent his father from holding campaign rallies. It’s a version of a conspiracy theory that has become increasingly popular among the president’s supporters—and has been voiced even by Donald Trump himself.

The president’s middle son was interviewed Saturday on Fox News by Jeanine Pirro, a Trump loyalist who opened her show by declaring, “The Democrats see a silver lining in this: Instill fear, stop this country at all costs, and shut it down—destroy Donald Trump’s signature piece of his four years, the economy.”

“Biden loves this,” Eric Trump told Pirro. “They think they’re taking away Donald Trump’s greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time…You watch, they’ll milk it every single day between now and November 3. And guess what: After November 3, coronavirus will magically all of a sudden go away and disappear, and everybody will be able to reopen. They’re trying to deprive him of his greatest asset.”

“Make no mistake,” Eric Trump added, “to a lot of them, this is a very cognizant strategy that they’re trying to employ…It’s no different than the mail-in voting that they want to do all these places. It’s no different than wanting illegal immigrants to vote.”

Eric Trump isn’t the only one promoting baseless conspiracy theories about Democratic governors using lockdowns to damage the president. While interviewing Vice President Mike Pence last week, Rush Limbaugh claimed that some blue-state governors “seem to have a political desire to inflict pain on your administration rather than get their states [reopened].”

President Trump made a similar assertion last week, when he suggested in an interview with the Washington Examiner that Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, might delay the process of reopening his state in order to interfere with the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled to be held in Charlotte in late August.

“We have a great state, North Carolina, that’s been very, very good,” the president said. “Although, it’s got a Democrat governor, so we have to be a little bit careful…because they’re playing politics. They’re playing politics, as you know, by delaying the openings.”

Part of this seems to be projection on the part of a president who has attempted to use federal coronavirus aid as a means of rewarding his allies, punishing his perceived enemies, and extracting political favors and praise from the nation’s governors. Whether or not Donald Trump really believes what he’s saying may not matter. He’s now thrown his full weight behind MAGA protesters’ efforts to end social distancing orders across the country—turning the public health response to a disease that has killed nearly 90,000 Americans into a partisan brawl animated by outlandish conspiracy theories.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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