Though President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden said they had agreed to keep the details of their Monday phone call private, Biden appears to have reneged on the agreement. The Democratic nominee has now divulged several details about the exchange in media interviews and a meeting with donors.
Biden said during his first interview after the call that he and Trump agreed they "wouldn't go into detail" on what was said during the call between the political rivals. Biden in the days since has laid out the specifics of the five suggestions he made to Trump on how the administration could improve its coronavirus response and even began to detail to donors at a fundraiser how Trump responded.
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Trump himself has declined to go into detail on what the two discussed during the call, saying the two agreed not to discuss it publicly. "We agreed that we weren’t going to talk about what we said, but we had a very, very good talk," the president said on Monday during his daily White House briefing on the coronavirus.
Biden's decision to disclose details on the highly anticipated call with Trump comes as his campaign works to get the former vice president attention in the coronavirus-driven news cycle. Biden this week secured the Democratic presidential nomination but remains isolated in his Delaware home, appearing only for media interviews from a home studio set up in his basement.
Biden told a local Philadelphia news station on Tuesday that he and Trump "agreed we wouldn't go into detail" beyond acknowledging they had a phone call to discuss the pandemic. In that same interview, however, Biden disclosed the recommendations he offered the president. "The generic suggestion I made is the federal responsibility, a federal response is necessary," Biden said. "And that I thought we needed one supply commander, nationally, and identifying where all the product needed was and how to distribute it around the country."
In a Tuesday night interview on CNN, Biden was pressed to break his silence by anchor Chris Cuomo, who asked Biden, "Why is it a good thing for the American people for you guys to talk but us not really know what happened?" The former vice president responded by detailing exactly what he recommended to the president.
"I laid out the five things I thought he should be doing now and suggested how I thought he should go about doing," Biden said before laying out his suggestions, which beyond the appointment of a supply commander were to fully implement the Defense Production Act, open up enrollment for Obamacare, ramp up testing, and collect more data on African Americans who have caught the coronavirus.
Biden on Wednesday continued to detail his call with Trump during a virtual fundraiser, according to Brittany Shepherd of Yahoo! News, who wrote in her pool report that Biden "briefly touched on his phone conversation" with Trump during his meeting with donors. Biden not only went into further detail to the donors about what he suggested to Trump, but also how Trump responded, according to the report.
"[Biden] also suggested that Trump appoint a supply commander to oversee the distribution," Shepherd wrote. "Trump suggested, according to Biden, that a rear admiral is taking up that responsibility to some degree. But Biden does not think that is enough."
The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment on his discussions of the phone call with Trump. A White House spokesman declined to comment on the call with Biden or detail any arrangement made to keep it private.
The call between the political rivals came at the request of Biden, who offered last week to call Trump with suggestions on his coronavirus response. The president said last week he would "absolutely" take Biden's call and then complained on Monday that it was never received.
"What ever happened to that phone call [Biden] told the Fake News he wanted to make to me?" Trump tweeted Monday, prompting an actual call between the president and his Democratic challenger.
Joe Biden wanted the date for the Democrat National Convention moved to a later time period. Now he wants a "Virtual" Convention, one where he doesn’t have to show up. Gee, I wonder why? Also, what ever happened to that phone call he told the Fake News he wanted to make to me?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 6, 2020
Biden and Trump came out of the call with warm words for each other, with both characterizing the call as "very friendly."