Column: Tracking Trump in 2020

President+Donald+Trump+further+polarizes+the+U.S.+with+his+actions%2C+from+tweets+to+deploying+federal+agents.

(Michael Vadon/Flickr)

President Donald Trump further polarizes the U.S. with his actions, from tweets to deploying federal agents.

Michaella Huck and Orlando Mayorquin

The country is in flux as it reckons with long-standing racial injustice while experiencing the worst handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the world. Surely, this is a moment for the president to attempt to pull together a polarized nation? Well, not if your country’s president is Donald J. Trump.

Trump has used this moment to double down on his inflammatory and unsophisticated rhetoric — most of it aimed at his political opponents — and push his political agenda.

Here is an ongoing list of all the outrageous actions taken by the president since the beginning of the pandemic and as we lead up to the election in November. 


Trump urges Wisconsin governor to deploy national guard Aug. 25

On Tuesday, Trump urged Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to put an end to the rioting after an officer-involved shooting. 

Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot by police officers as he tried to get into his car on Sunday in Wisconsin. As a result, Blake is paralyzed from the waist down. Since then, protests have prevailed nationwide. 

In a tweet, the president stated the governor needs to “end the problem fast,” and encouraged him to call the National Guard.

The governor has since accepted and doubled federal policing assistance on Wednesday. 


Trump asks people to boycott Goodyear tires — Aug. 19

 

On Wednesday, Trump urged Americans to stop purchasing tires from Goodyear Tire and Rubber company after the company informed their employees wearing “make America great again” hats and other politically charged gear was not acceptable. 

This statement came after an employee in Topeka, Kansas took a photo of what is considered acceptable under Goodyear’s diversity policy.

In response to the photo, Goodyear released a tweet of their own. They outlined their support for law enforcement and stated the company does not stand for harassment or discrimination in the workplace. 


Kamala Harris birther lie not off the table for Trump — Aug. 14

At a press briefing, Trump was asked about a Newsweek op-ed that claimed Sen. Kamala Harris is ineligible to be vice president because her parents were not permanent U.S. residents at the time she was born in Oakland, California. 

The claim that having been born to non-permanent resident parents makes Harris ineligible has been widely debunked by fact checkers

Trump was given the opportunity to respond to the allegation at a press conference. The president said he had only just heard about the claim when asked, but went on to talk about the credibility of the lawyer who wrote the Newsweek article. 

“And by the way, the lawyer who wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer,” Trump said. “I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen for vice president.” 

Trump is usually quick to refrain from commenting on bad news involving his political allies. He often responds with “I don’t know anything about it” and moves on to the next question. Despite claiming not to “know about it,” Trump felt compelled to talk up the credibility of the person pushing the Harris narrative when asked what he thought about it.  


Trump admits holding emergency relief for Postal Service to hamper mail-in voting — Aug. 13

Trump acknowledged he has been blocking postal funds to make it harder to process the expected large number of mail-in ballots for this November election. 

In an interview with Fox Business Network, he admitted that without the additional funding the postal service will not be able to withstand the flood of ballots coming in. He stated that universal mail in ballots cannot occur and the postal services will not receive any funds unless the Democrats come to an agreement on the next congressional stimulus package. 


Trump administration opens up Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling — Aug. 17 

A Trump administration official announced a new oil drilling lease program in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. 

The program is the latest chapter in the Trump administration’s campaign to clear the way for more non-renewable energy by disregarding environmental concerns and eliminating environmental protections. 

Trump tried to take credit for a major federal park conservation bill — which was a bipartisan bill — earlier this month. However, Trump can claim full credit for withdrawing the U.S. from the international Paris Agreement to combat climate change in 2017 and chipping away at federal clean air regulations. 


Trump has some racist things to say after Kamala Harris was announced as Biden’s VP pick — Aug. 11 

After Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced that Sen. Kamala Harris would be his running mate, Trump took to Twitter to ensure people that the “suburban housewife” vote was indeed his. 

The president cited his previous rollback on the Obama-era affordable housing regulations. This rule ensures local governments will assess racial disparities in housing and has plans in place to address those disparities if they occur. These disparities can lead to further racial segregation in housing if left unchecked.

Trump claimed last month that his repeal would prevent suburban families from being “bothered or financially hurt” by the presence of low-income residents in their communities. 

Trump stated, “Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge!” —  notably spelling New Jersey’s Democratic Sen. Cory Booker’s name incorrectly. Early Wednesday, Booker took the time to respond to Trump’s tweet stating, “Donaled, your racism is showing.”


Trump tries to bypass Congress on relief bill — Aug. 8 

Trump signed an executive order to provide extensions of coronavirus relief after negotiations between Republicans and Democrats for another relief bill broke down in Congress. The legality of Trump’s executive order is unclear. The relief he puts forth in his order is also insufficient. 

Trump wants to extend unemployment payments by dropping them from $600 a week — the amount paid under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, which expired on July 31 — to $400 a week. He wants the states to cover 25% of the unemployment payments. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Trump’s plan is unrealistic.

Trump also wants to suspend the payroll tax for the rest of the year — a move considered to be a trojan horse for cutting Social Security. It is unclear whether Trump’s executive orders will supersede any bill that might eventually be put forth by Congress.


Trump on the pandemic: ‘It is what it is’ – Aug. 3

 

 

In response to the U.S.’s coronavirus death toll, Trump says, “It is what it is” during an interview with the American news website, Axios. 

He told Jonathan Swan, the political reporter for Axios, that the pandemic is “under control as much as you can control it.”

As Swan further questioned Trump on the death toll, the president continuously pointed out the proportion of cases to deaths. 

“You’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the U.S. is really bad,” Swan said. 

As a rebuttal, Trump told Swan should not look at death as a proportion of population, but only look at the number of cases.

The interview was recorded on July 28. The death toll in the U.S. was just below 150,000 and has reached 156,000 as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.  

In addition to discussing the pandemic, Trump attempted to downplay the legacy of the late Rep. John Lewis.

“I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration,” Trump stated in the interview.


Trump says he’ll ban TikTok if a “very American” company doesn’t buy the app by mid-September – Aug. 3 

On Sunday, Trump suggested banning the popular social media app TikTok because it’s owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance.
“It can’t be controlled, for security reasons, by China,” Trump said in an interview. “Too big, too invasive, and it can’t be.” 

Trump approved of the idea of a “very American company” purchasing the app. One American company candidate to purchase the app is Microsoft. The company will purchase the app’s operations in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia, according to a post on Microsoft’s official blog

Trump set a Sept.15 deadline for an American company to acquire the app. He also said he will ban the app in the U.S. if a deal isn’t reached by then. The president also said he wants a significant portion of the money from a deal to go to the government because “we’re making it possible for this deal to happen.”

Trump has not had a positive relationship with the app. Trump cites security concerns as the reason for wanting to ban the social media app. TikTok, which is wildly popular among Generation Z, is said to have been partly responsible for Trump’s Tulsa rally fiasco. Young influencers organized on the app to reserve tickets to the rally and inflate the expected attendance. 


Trump says Dr. Fauci is wrong, continues to incorrectly blame testing for COVID-19 spike – Aug 1 

Trump disagreed with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the cause of the continued surge of cases in the U.S. Fauci attributed the surge to the haphazard shutdown of the economy. 

Trump said Fauci was wrong in his assessment and continued to peddle the idea that the increase in testing accounts for the high number of cases. Trump is wrong; the percentage increase in cases is greater than the percentage increase in testing. 


Trump insinuates delaying the election to stop ‘voter fraud’ – July 29

Trump recommended delaying the 2020 November election in a tweet on Thursday. 

Under the constitution, the president has no grounds to choose an election date — this is the decision of Congress. While Trump has urged a lift on restrictions on businesses and pushed to reopen schools, his notion on delaying the election until it’s “safe” goes against his previous claims that the virus is under control. 

Many Republicans in the congress have publicly disapproved of Trump’s idea. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that delaying the election is not something that he supports. 


 

Trump threatens to have federal agents “clean out” Portland if local authorities can’t “secure” the city – July 28

Trump commented on an agreement reached between the Department of Homeland Security and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to withdraw a force of federal agents from Portland under the condition that local authorities first quell alleged violent protests. 

“We’re not leaving until they’ve secured their city. We told the governor. We told the mayor. Secure your city. If they don’t secure their city soon, we have no choice. We’re going to have to go in and clean it out,” Trump said. 

It’s unclear what Trump meant by “clean it out.”  Videos and reports surfaced over the past week of unmarked federal agents dragging protesters into unmarked vehicles blocks away from the federal courthouse they were sent to protect.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has repeatedly called for the federal agents to leave, saying that they’ve only escalated violence. 


Trump assures voters living in suburbs they “will no longer be bothered” by low income housing – July 29 

Trump took to Twitter in hopes to increase his appeal to white suburban voters on Wednesday. He boasted about his rollback of the Obama-era fair housing rule. 

The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule was created in hopes of eliminating racial disparities and housing discrimation in suburban communities. 

“…Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy,” Trump’s second tweet on his Twitter thread about AFFH stated. 

The Obama-era rule will be replaced with a new policy that will leave local governments to “self-certify” that the housing provided is affordable and free of racial discrimination. This is a large scale and potentially dangerous change from the Obama-era rule.  


Trump openly ignores DACA Supreme Court ruling – July 28 

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the DACA program. The Trump administration, however, announced Tuesday that they will defy the order and continue to not move forward with applications. 


“Person, woman, camera, man, TV” – July 22

Trump has bragged about his results on a cognitive test designed to screen for Alzheimers. In a Fox News interview, he recited five words he said he was asked to repeat on the test: person, woman, camera, man, TV. 

 

“If you get it in order, you get extra points,” Trump told the Fox News interviewer. 

In a separate interview with Fox News, the president questioned the intelligence of Fox News host, Chris Wallace. 

“But I’ll bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions. I’ll bet you couldn’t. They get very hard, the last five questions,” Trump told Wallace. 

Trump’s flaunting of his test results is a part of one of his key campaign strategies — attacking presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s cognitive ability. Trump, who routinely calls Biden “Sleepy Joe,” repeatedly claimed that Biden is experiencing a cognitive decline and is not fit to serve as president. 


Trump wishes alleged high-profile sex trafficer well – July 22

At a White House COVID-19 briefing, a reporter asked Trump about Ghislaine Maxwell, the alleged accomplice to Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire pedophile who authorities said died by suicide in jail. Maxwell was arrested and charged in Manhattan Federal Court with 6 criminal charges, including transporting a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activity and perjury. Several photos showing Trump, Epstein and Maxwell together at lavish events through the years have surfaced on the internet. 

“I haven’t really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly,” Trump said. 

Trump told reporters he had met Maxwell “numerous times over the years” because they both lived in Palm Beach, Florida. 


Trump says he’ll send federal agents to Chicago amid Portland chaos – July 20
Portland has been the center of national attention as federal agents, many in camouflage uniform, plucked protestors off the street and placed them into unmarked vehicles without stating a reason for arrest. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler asked the Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf to remove the agents to no avail.

Now, DHS is planning to deploy 150 agents to Chicago, according to reporting from the New York Times.


Trump devotes Rose Garden speech to a campaign – July 18
Trump walked onto the South Lawn of the Rose Garden and turned his speech on new policies into a campaign speech. He dedicated his time to grooming his potential voters into believing he is the best candidate for reelection. He bashed China and described former Vice President Joe Biden as a gift to China, stating Biden was an advocate of the Communist regime.


Trump runs ad against defunding the police – July 15

Trump released an ad outlining what police defunding would possibly look like. The ad centered around a phone call made to the police that goes unanswered, with a voiceover claiming that no one will be available to prevent crime. The ad accuses former Vice President and former President Barack Obama of supporting the idea of letting “criminals back on the street” and defunding the police. “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” the ad read.

 


Trump re-evaluates universities’ tax exempt status, says they’re about “radical left indoctrination” – July 10

Trump threatened the tax exempt status of many universities, accusing them of being places of “radical left indoctrination.” The threat has little to no legal basis as universities are protected by the first amendment, but represents another conservative attack claiming that higher education largely propagates left-wing ideology.


Trump shares video of supporter yelling “White power” – June 28
Trump retweeted a video showing an elderly Trump supporter at a retirement home in Florida yelling “White Power.” In the video, a man cruising by a small crowd of fellow Trump supporters in a golf cart started the chant as he held his fist in the air. He is cheered on by a member of the crowd, who enthusiastically responds with “There you go!”

The retweet remained on the president’s Twitter page for three hours before it was removed. White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement that Trump did not hear the chant in the video.


Less testing, less cases – June 23 

As cases surge across the country, Trump blamed the rising number on testing. Trump claimed the United States leads the world in the number of COVID-19 cases solely because of its increased testing capacity. He suggested the country should test less.


Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from WHO – May 27
The Trump administration notified the U.N. that he would halt funding to the World Health Organization and end ties with the agency. Trump’s reasoning stemmed from his belief that the organization was protecting China instead of responding to the pandemic.

This is a large hit for the organization, which specializes in international public safety, since the United States was one of its largest donors — contributing $450 million a year.