Trump says Biden to blame for vaccine hesitancy, despite spending two years downplaying pandemic and getting his jabs in secret
Mr Trump made the comments during an interview with Fox News Digital. The accusation came in response to Joe Biden's sweeping executive order that requires vaccination or weekly Covid-19 testing for nearly 100 million Americans.
Mr Trump said the move "shouldn't be necessary" and then claimed – without evidence – that more people were interested in taking the shot when he was president.
"If you remember, when I was president, there were literally lines of people wanting to take it," Mr Trump said. "Now, you have a different situation, and it’s very bad."
When Mr Trump was in office the Pfizer vaccine had just received emergency authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration, making it the first time Americans could vaccinate themselves against the coronavirus. Currently more than half the country is vaccinated, so it stands to reason there would be fewer lines.
Mr Trump claimed that Democrats "disparaged" the vaccine.
"Of course, they famously said, if Trump came up with it, I’ll never take it," Mr Trump said, alluding to comments made by Vice President Kamala Harris last September.
Ms Harris did not actually say she did not trust the vaccine, she said she did not trust Mr Trump and would wait for a "credible source of information" before she took any vaccine released before the 2020 election.
Mr Biden made similar comments. On 8 September, 2020, Mr Biden was asked if he would take a vaccine if it was released "tomorrow."
"Only if it was completely transparent, that other experts in the country could look at it, only if we knew all of what went into it. Because so far, nothing he’s told us has been true," Mr Biden said.
Even discounting nuance, Mr Trump's claim still presumes that conservatives – who account for nearly half of the unvaccinated population in the US – care more about what Mr Biden and Ms Harris have to say than what he does.
Mr Trump has encouraged his followers to take the vaccine on more than one occasion.
"And you know what? I believe totally in your freedoms. I do. You've got to do what you have to do," Mr Trump said at a rally in Alabama. "But I recommend take the vaccines. I did it. It's good. Take the vaccines."
The MAGA crowd booed him in response.
During his Fox interview, Mr Trump said that those who are vaccine hesitant "don't trust this president, and that's why they're not taking it."
The former president made the comment moments after calling the vaccine "one of my greatest achievements," despite arguing for nearly two years that the threat of the virus was overblown and being used by Democrats as a political cudgel against him.
Mr Trump did not address the barrage of anti-vaccination rhetoric coming from right wing media – including Fox News – during his interview.
Talk show host Tucker Carlson said that falsifying vaccination cards wasn't "a serious crime" and claimed those who did not take the shot would end up on a "government list."
Jeanine Pirro, another talking head on the network, claimed the vaccine efforts would be used to justify gun confiscations.
Similarly, Laura Ingraham has touted "natural immunity" as a better preventative than the vaccines and has pushed drugs on her audience that haven't been proven to be effective in treating Covid-19. Ingraham was an early supporter of both hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as alternative Covid-19 therapeutics. While both are drugs people can be prescribed, neither has been proved to be effective at treating Covid-19.
Fox Corporation, which owns Fox News, requires all of its employees to report their vaccination status to the company and certain employees are made to take weekly Covid-19 tests regardless of their vaccination status.
Despite the vaccines being one of Mr Trump's "greatest achievements," he got his shot in private and rarely spoke of his inoculation.
In December and January, numerous public figures – including Mr Biden and Ms Harris – publicised that they were taking the shot as a way to encourage the rest of the country to do the same. Even Mr Trump's daughter, Ivanka, publicised her inoculation.