Hollywood acting great Robert De Niro has reignited his quarrel with Donald Trump, saying the US President “doesn’t care” how many people die from coronavirus.
The Oscar-winning actor, 76, is one of Mr Trump’s most trenchant critics and has now taken aim at his handling of the current health crisis.
More than 82,000 people have died in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University, a total higher than any other country.
During an appearance on Newsnight, De Niro described the situation at the White House as “Shakespearean,” saying “you’ve got a lunatic saying things that people are trying to dance around”.
Mr Trump, who is up for re-election in November, has frequently been accused of contradicting the advice of his scientific advisers throughout the pandemic and refuses to wear a mask.
He was widely mocked last month for suggesting research into whether coronavirus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body.
De Niro added: “It’s appalling. He wants to be re-elected [but] he doesn’t even care how many people die.”
Challenged by Newsnight host Emily Maitlis that Mr Trump’s fan base would disagree, The Irishman star stood firm.
“No, he doesn’t care for those people. And the people who he pretends to care about are the people he has the most disdain for because he couldn’t care less about them,” De Niro responded.
“They might like to tell themselves or delude themselves, but he doesn’t care about them.”
The actor’s criticism contrasted with his praise for New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who he says “has done a great job. He’s done what Trump should have done – but he doesn’t have a clue how to do that.”
De Niro is isolating at his home in New York, the state hardest hit by the pandemic.
He said: “It’s been very strange because New York is kind of like a ghost town, it’s surreal then you see other parts of the world, other great big cities of the world, are also in the same situation.
“It’s interesting, it’s kind of like a science fiction movie but it’s real.”
De Niro has sparred frequently with Mr Trump both before and during the President’s time in office.
Appearing on the #VoteYourFuture initiative in 2016, De Niro said of Trump “he’s so blatantly stupid. He’s a punk. He’s a dog. He’s a pig. A con. A bulls**t artist. A mutt who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
“I’d like to punch him in the face,” he added.
His contribution was considered to be too partisan to be included in the final campaign.
After De Niro, who played boxer Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese’s 1980 biopic Raging Bull, yelled “f*** Trump” at the Tony Awards in 2018, the President responded on Twitter.
He said: “Robert De Niro, a very Low IQ individual, has received too many shots to the head by real boxers in movies. I watched him last night and truly believe he may be ‘punch-drunk’.”