Saunders: Biden should stop with Trump bleach-injection fable

The story requires some context, but Trump did not call for people to inject bleach to cure covid.

By Debra J. Saunders / Las Vegas Review-Journal

One of the best tools in campaign politics is ridicule.

Republicans often ridicule President Biden regarding his age, gait and garbled speech. Democrats hit former President Trump by claiming that in the early days of covid-19, Trump told Americans to inject bleach.

At a weekend event with comedian Jimmy Kimmel, Biden said of his predecessor, “All they got to do is remember what it was like. You know, what (Trump) did with — remember the pandemic? He said, ‘Don’t — don’t worry, just inject a little bleach in your body.’”

Biden and company have made this bogus claim so often, you might even think it’s true.

At a fundraiser in Chicago, Biden offered, “We’ll never forget (Trump) lying about the pandemic, telling people it wasn’t really that serious. And saying all you got to do is inject a little bit of bleach in your system. I mean, for real.”

In Raleigh, Biden said that Trump “told Americans all they had to do was inject bleach in themselves, remember that? Not a joke. You think I am making this up? Just take a real shot of UV light.”

Here’s what Trump actually said during an April 23, 2020, White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, early on in the pandemic.

But first, allow me to quote William Bryan, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology acting secretary, who told reporters that day, “We’re also testing disinfectants readily available. We’ve tested bleach, we’ve tested isopropyl alcohol on the virus, specifically in saliva or in respiratory fluids. And I can tell you that bleach will kill the virus in five minutes; isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds, and that’s with no manipulation, no rubbing — just spraying it on and letting it go. You rub it and it goes away even faster.”

Later during the briefing, Trump said, “And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors … “

“There’s no scenario that could be injected into a person, is there?” a reporter asked.

Trump responded, “It wouldn’t be through injections. We’re talking about through almost a cleaning, sterilization of an area. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work. But it certainly has a big effect if it’s on a stationary object.”

As PolitiFact reported at the time, “The briefing transcript shows that Trump did not say people should inject themselves with bleach or alcohol to treat the coronavirus. He was asking officials on the White House coronavirus task force whether they could be used in potential cures.”

Karoline Leavitt of the Trump campaign said of the Biden remark, “This is another hoax that has been debunked time and time again, but Joe Biden continues to lie because he is losing and he cannot talk about the real issues Americans are facing, such as record high inflation, the border and war around the world.”

Trump shamelessly says things that he knows aren’t true; most notably, that he won the 2020 election, which he lost. But you knew that.

The bleach fable, however, has been repeated so often that those who should know better don’t. Biden, for example, should know better. No joke.

Email Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Debra J. Saunders at Follow her on X @debrajsaunders. Copyright 2024,

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