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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe).

Murphy: Trump fundraiser ‘put lives at risk’

Governor chides president for Bedminster event held after Trump’s COVID-19 exposure

By Nikita Biryukov, October 05 2020 2:36 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy chided President Donald Trump for holding a fundraiser in Bedminster Thursday even after the White House was aware Trump and top members of his staff were exposed to COVID-19.

“It’s clear the president and his staff acted recklessly coming to New Jersey in the first place knowing they had been exposed to someone with a confirmed positive test,” Murphy said during Monday’s COVID-19 briefing. “To put it bluntly, the actions leading up to and during this event have put lives at risk.”

Trump, along with a growing list of top staffers and advisors — including former Gov. Chris Christie, First Lady Melania Trump and campaign manager Bill Stepien — have tested positive for the virus.

Murphy said the incident, which has seen Trump hospitalized at the Walter Reed Medical Center, was emblematic of a weak federal response to the pandemic.

“This is not the first time we’ve seen that absence of leadership, nor the only time,” he said. “This is the latest chapter in the long series of chapters over the past seven months when things like developing and engendering a political debate over masks, as an example, when there should be none associated with it.”

The governor said the state was also reviewing whether the fundraiser ran afoul of New Jersey’s restrictions on gatherings. While most of the event took place outdoors, Trump held an indoor reception for large donors, and attendees have given conflicting accounts of how well mask-wearing and social-distancing guidelines were followed.

“Reports suggest the event itself may not have complied with our current rules, which may have put others at risk, and we continue to investigate these reports,” Murphy said. “Any failures to comply with our emergency orders will be referred to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal for follow up.”

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