Trump tries to shift blame as virus outbreak rattles markets

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President Donald Trump listens to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, speaks about coronavirus during an Black History Month reception in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As global markets plunged amid growing fears about the coronavirus outbreak, President Donald Trump and his allies pulled from a familiar playbook Friday and blamed others for the slide. It's a challenging sell for a president who has lashed his fate to Wall Street like no other.

The president's team responded to the biggest one-week Wall Street sell-off in more than a decade with a deflection strategy, playing down the threat and eagerly parceling out responsibility to Democrats, the media and the entrenched government bureaucracy.

Trump tweeted that “The Do Nothing Democrats" had wasted time on impeachment and “anything else they could do to make the Republican Party look bad" while defending his own response, which many Democrats have deemed sluggish and scattershot.

At a political rally Friday night in North Charleston, South Carolina, Trump asserted that Democratic complaints about his handling of the coronavirus threat are “their new hoax," echoing similar past complaints by the president about the Russia investigation and his impeachment.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called Trump's language “absolutely dangerous.”

“Everything's about him,” Biden said during a visit to a Greenville, South Carolina, polling site after it opened for Saturday's Democratic presidential primary. “I know he's a stable genius, but it's ridiculous the thing's he's saying.”

Some of Trump's closest allies amplified that message and accused the administration's perceived enemies of hyping the threat posed by the virus, which has killed more than 2,800 people — most of them in China, where it originated.

“The flu kills people,” said acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering for conservative activists. “This is not Ebola. It’s not SARS. It’s not MERS. It’s not a death sentence. It’s not the same as the Ebola crisis.”