Presidency of Donald Trump
The presidency of Donald Trump began at noon EST on January 20, 2017, when Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, succeeding Barack Obama, and ended on January 20, 2021, after Trump lost the 2020 United States presidential election to Joe Biden. Trump is currently running in the 2024 United States presidential election, and if he wins he will serve a second term beginning on January 20, 2025.
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- Add to this mix the ascendancy of President Donald Trump, who won the 2016 election in part by courting a nativist, anti-immigrant constituency, and whose reticent condemnation of white nationalist protesters who held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that erupted in fatal violence in August 2017 drew howls of criticism from all but his most loyal supporters, and the urgency of sorting out these political associations begins to make sense.
Nobody, least of all the millions of rank-and-file right-leaning Americans who voted for Donald Trump, wants to be lumped in with Nazis. It's a fact, however, that Nazi-friendly organizations, Nazi symbols, and Nazi gestures were in evidence at the disastrous Charlottesville event, whose unfortunate title was not "Unite the Left," but "Unite the Right."
Although the terms "left" and "right" as used in American politics can be somewhat less than perspicuous, they are helpful in delineating the basic ideological divide between liberalism/progressivism (as embodied mainly by the Democratic Party) on one side ("the left"), and conservatism/traditionalism (as embodied mainly by the Republican Party) on the other ("the right"). Seen as a spectrum or continuum of ideologies, socialism/communism traditionally falls on the far left end of this scale, nationalism/fascism on the far right.
- David Emery, Were the Nazis Socialists? (5 September 2017), Snopes
- As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?
- Having failed in efforts to control or curtail the president's tweeting, Priebus searched for a way to have practical impact. Since the tweets were often triggered by the president's obsessive TV watching, he looked for ways to shut off the television. But television was Trump's default activity. Sunday nights were often the worst. Trump would come back to the White House from the weekend at one of his golf resorts just in time to catch political talk on his enemy networks, MSNBC and CNN. The president and the first lady had separate bedrooms in the residence. Trump had a giant TV going much of the time, alone in his bedroom with the clicker, the TiVo and his Twitter account. Priebus called the presidential bedroom "the devil's workshop" and the early mornings and dangerous Sunday nights "the witching hour." There was not much he could do about the mornings, but he had some control over the weekend schedule. He started scheduling Trump's Sunday returns to the White House later in the afternoon. Trump would get to the White House just before 9 p.m. when MSNBC and CNN generally turned to softer programming that did not focus on the immediate political controversies and Trump's inevitable role in them.
- Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House (2018), p. 195
- Trump seemed to love the adulation but said to Graham, "You're a middle-of-the-road guy. I want you to be 100 percent for Trump." This resembled the loyalty pledge that then FBI director James Comey said that Trump had asked of him. According to Comey, Trump had said, "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty," during their now famous one-on-one Green Room dinner in the White House during the first week of the Trump presidency. "Okay, what's the issue?" Graham asked, "and I'll tell you whether I'm 100 percent for you or not." "You're like 82 percent," Trump said. "Well, some days I'm 100 percent. Some days I may be zero." "I want you to be a 100 percent guy." "Why would you want me to tell you you're right when I think you're wrong? What good does that do for you or me?" Graham asked. "Presidents need people that can tell them the truth as they see it. It's up to you to see if I'm full of shit."
- Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House (2018), p. 317
- But in the man and his presidency Dowd had seen the tragic flaw. In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying "Fake News," the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the president: "You're a fucking liar."
- Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House (2018), p. 357
- Thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country
- President Trump during his February State of the Union address according to "[https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/22/stephen-miller-immigration-trump-1284287
How Stephen Miller made immigration personal]" (April 22, 2019)
- Follow the money: This administration is all about enriching slash-and-burn-style businesses at the expense of low-income workers and consumers. This is the same administration, after all, that has gone out of its way to turn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau into a vehicle to protect payday lenders and that has waged war on the student loan forgiveness program. The NLRB’s extraordinary anti-union efforts are more of the same. They are about making workers more vulnerable and more insecure, as are the administration’s relentless efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion—because the more insecure that people at the bottom of the economy are, the easier they are to bully and exploit.
- In the wake of teachers’ strikes in a number of states, recent polling shows public support for unions at 64 percent—the highest, except for a few blips, in half a century. These are important developments. Labor is finally stirring. And Americans are on to the fact that Trump’s faux populism is actually all about rigging the game in favor of the wealthy.
- For all President Trump's talk these days about Democrats trying to make America socialist, the reality is that he is the king of big government. The federal bureaucracy is just as large, centralized, careless with spending, and intrusive under Donald Trump as it was when Barack Obama was in office. In many cases, it's bigger. This is an uncomfortable truth for Trump supporters. Rather than hew to traditional conservative beliefs about a limited federal role, Trump has allowed government to balloon. He's especially vexed when we inform him the government will never be large enough or powerful enough to execute his spontaneous propositions. The US federal budget deficit was actually declining under the Obama administration, from $1.4 trillion in 2009 when Obama took office to $587 billion in 2016, just before he left. Credit for the remarkable downward trend goes to congressional Republicans, who forced a standoff with the White House in 2011. They demanded a budget deal that would bring the deficit under control. This was the Budget Control Act, a law that slashed federal spending, put strict annual limits on future expenditures, and placed a cap on the government's "credit card." It was considered the conservative "Tea Party" movement's crowning achievement.
- Anonymous, A Warning (2019), p. 99-100
- Donald Trump was not interested in penny-pinching. He may try to project the image of a man working to save taxpayer dollars, and it's true that he can be talked out of stupid ideas if they cost too much. But that's not because he's trying to save money so it can go back to the American people. He still wants to spend the money, just on things in which he's personally interested, such as bombs or border security. Trump recoils at people who are "cheap." Today he is sparing no expense on the management of the executive branch, spending so freely it makes the money-burning days of the Trump Organization look like the five-dollar tables at a Vegas casino. As a result, the budget deficit has increased every single year since Donald Trump took office, returning to dangerous levels. The president is on track to spend a trillion dollars above what the government takes in annually. Just look at 2019. The president proposed a record-breaking $4.7 trillion budget. That's how much he suggested the federal government spend in a singe year. Since Trump took office, the US debt- much of which we owe to other countries that we borrow from- has grown by the trillions, to another all-time high of $22 trillion total. To pay off our debts today, according to one estimate, each taxpayer in the United States would need to fork over an average of $400,000. This should set off fiscal tornado sirens across America. We cannot keep borrowing money we can't pay back, otherwise our children will pay a steep and terrible price.
- Anonymous, A Warning (2019), p. 100
- Willful ignorance is the fairest way to describe the president's attitude toward our enemies. He sees what he wants to see. If Trump likes a foreign leader, he refuses to accept the danger they might pose or ulterior motives they bring to the table. That's what makes it so easy for him to offhandedly dismiss detailed US threat assessments about nation-states or urgent alerts from our closest allies.
- Anonymous, A Warning (2019), p. 167-168
- Our enemies and adversaries recognize the president is a simplistic pushover. They are unmoved by his bellicose Twitter threats because they know he can be played. President Trump is easily swayed by their rhetoric. We can all see it. He is visibly moved by flattery. He folds in negotiations, and he is willing to give up the farm for something that merely looks like a good deal, whether it is or not. They believe he is weak, and they take advantage of him. When they cannot, they simply ignore him.
- Anonymous, A Warning (2019), p. 173
- Donald Trump's words do more than drive his team crazy. They are dividing Americans. He may start fights on Twitter and at the microphones, but we are continuing them at home. Studies show that Republicans are becoming more partisan, unwilling to veer from the party line, and Democrats are doing the same. The one thing the two sides can agree on is that the phenomenon is real. A Pew Research Center survey released in 2019 found that a whopping 85 percent of US adults said that "political debate in the country has become more negative and less respectful," and two-thirds said that it is less focused on the issues. Where do they pin the blame? A majority believed President Trump "has changed the tone and nature of political debate for the worse." The verbal acrimony has real-world consequences. Our divisions make us less likely to engage with one another, less likely to trust our government, and less optimistic about our country's future. When asked to look forward to the year 2050, Americans were deeply pessimistic, according to another survey. A majority of respondents predicted that the United States would be in decline, burdened by economic disparity and more politically polarized. Nearly the same percentage of Democrats and Republicans agreed on the last point. In the nation's capital, the president's bull-in-a-china-shop language is inhibiting his own agenda. He can't get consensus on Capital Hill, even on previously uncontroversial issues. Democrats aren't exactly trying to restore bipartisanship, but there might be hope if the figurehead of the Republican Party were not treating them as mortal enemies rather than political opponents. Instead, every big idea becomes radioactive upon release. Every line of the budget is a trench on the political battlefield. We constantly struggle to sell the president's priorities because he is his own worst enemy.
- Anonymous, A Warning (2019), p. 191-192
- Everyone knows Donald Trump is a sore loser, and the final precept of Roy Cohn's authoritarian instructions was, "If you lose, say you won." So if Trump loses in November he will probably claim it was a rigged election, and he will try to get it overturned. But a sufficiently overwhelming outpouring by Democrats, and Democratic-leaning independents, can send him packing and bring the moving vans to the South Portico of the WHite House on January 20, 2021. Trump's wretched mishandling of the COVID-19 and George Floyd tragedies has moved, perhaps only temporarily, some undecided voters into the Democratic camp, and even a handful of Trump's base appear (as of early June) shaken by how badly he has responded to these crises. The matter can be decided without doubt by young voters, who are the least prejudiced age group in the United States and strongly oppose Donald Trump on numerous grounds. Historically, persons eighteen to thirty years old vote less but they make up a majority of the crowds peacefully protesting against prejudice after George Floyd's murder. If the democrats run good registration campaigns among the young, and if Biden supporters can overcome all the vote-suppression barriers the Republicans will throw at them, and if Bernie Sanders' supporters can settle for half of what they want in order to have a certain chance to get the rest later on, rather than no chance at all if Trump wins, Democrats can win the White House and both Houses of Congress in November.
Let us say that happens. The election is close, but even in the Electoral College the democrats post a winning total. Nonetheless Trump claims there was colossal fraud, and the election should not count. "It was a hoax," he claims for the umpteenth time. "It has to be fair!" he says, and his base takes to the street shouting support for Trump. No one should be surprised if Trump loses and refuses to leave. Michael Cohen, Trump's in-house attorney for many years who knows the man much better than most, said under oath on February 27, 2019, "Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 there will never be a peaceful transition of power." Trump's high-level staffer known as Anonymous for his/her New York Times OpEd and book, A Warning, says Trump "will not exit quietly- or easily," suggesting a "'civil war' in the offing." Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the New York Times in May 2019 that Trump's refusal to accept defeat in 2020 was something that concerned her, adding, "We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that."
- Even if Donald Trump leaves office peacefully in 2021 his base will remain intact and be available to him to hobble his successor as it did his predecessor. Or, should Trump slip inexorably, that base is available to whoever can capture it for themselves. Someone smarter than Trump and championed by Fox News and the right-wing media echo chamber, could pose a much greater threat down the road. You can bet that various Double Highs have already begun thinking how to get incarnated as the next messiah. You can also bet the "king-makers" are studying the field right now too, including the leaders of the religious right who might sense Trump losing a bit of his hold on their believers.
- Donald John Trump is way out of his league playing a clever usurper of power. If it appears that we have been hard on him, listen to the people who do. As humans being go, he is a sorry specimen. His driveway has not reached the main road for a long, long time. He is incapable of fixing his own life, which is deeply scarred by escarpments of chutzpah and pitted with bottomless potholes of ignorance and self-deception, so he is incapable of repairing the damage he has done. If he becomes a monarch, we can brag that it did not take us generations of inbreeding to produce an imbecile king. We shall have started with one. Even sadder, Trump might not be made dictator by a distinct minority of the country. Most Americans will not have voted for him; they simply did not vote. In short, we could lose what our forebearers fought for and won and preserved and rightly celebrated because most of us would not even go to the polls in 2020 to keep them.
- It took me about a month after my arrival at the Trump White House to have any chance to assess systematically how things worked inside. Dysfunctionality arose in many ways, often unfolding through specific policy issues... During the last months of 2018 and early 2019, as Trump's second year in office came to an end- roughly eight to nine months after my arrival- several seemingly disparate issues and individuals converged to push the Administration even deeper into uncharted territory. In early June 2018, for example, Kelly tried a new tactic on Trump's schedule, beginning each day in the Oval, at eleven a.m., with "Chief of Staff" time, hoping to minimize the rambling lectures he delivered during his twice-weekly intelligence briefings. Of course, what most people found striking was that Trump's "official" day didn't start until almost lunchtime. Trump was not loafing during the morning. Instead, he spent considerable time working the phones in the Residence. He talked to all manner of people, sometimes US government officials (I spoke with him by phone before he arrived in the Oval nearly every day due to the press of events he needed to know about or I needed direction on), but he also spoke at length to people outside the government. It was an anomaly among contemporary Presidents by any definition.
- John Bolton, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (2020), p. 223
- As it was, Trump generally had only two intelligence briefings per week, and in most of those, he spoke at greater length than the briefers, often on matters completely unrelated to the subjects at hand. Trump's schedule was the easiest anomaly to deal with. One of the hardest was his vindictiveness, as demonstrated by the constant eruptions against John McCain, even after McCain died and could do Trump no more harm. Another example of his vindictiveness was Trump's August 15 decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance. Now, Brennan was no prize, and during his tenure the CIA became more politicized than at any other time in its history. He denied any improper behavior, but Trump was convinced Brennan was deeply implicated in abusing the FISA surveillance process to spy on his 2016 campaign, all of which was exacerbated by his constant presence in the media criticizing Trump after he took office.
- John Bolton, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (2020), p. 224
- Perhaps uniquely in presidential history, Trump engendered controversy over attendance at funerals, starting with Barbara Bush's in April 2018, which Trump did not attend (although four former Presidents and the First Lady did), and then at John McCain's in late August. Kelly opened the weekly White House staff meeting on August 27 by saying, "I'm in a bad place today," because of ongoing disagreements with Trump over whether to fly US government flags at half-mast and who would attend which services. McCain's family didn't want Trump at the services either, so the feeling was mutual. The final decision was that Pence would lead the Administration's representation at both the Capitol Rotunda ceremony and the funeral service at Washington National Cathedral. The service was extremely well-attended, with all the socializing that routinely accompanies even moments of passing. Among others I greeted were Bush 43 and Mrs. Bush, with Bush asking cheerily, "Still got a job, Bolton?" "For now," I answered, and we all laughed. When George H.W. Bush later died during the Buenos Aires G20, Trump declared a national day of mourning, issued a fitting presidential statement, and spoke cordially with both George W. and Jeb Bush during the meeting. He and the First Lady attended the National Cathedral service on December 5 without incident. It wasn't so hard to do after all.
- John Bolton, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (2020), p. 226
- The atmosphere of division my grandfather created in the Trump family is the water in which Donald has always swum, and division continues to benefit him at the expense of everybody else. It's weakening our ability to be kind or believe in forgiveness, concepts that have never had any meaning for him. His administration and his party have become subsumed by his politics of grievance and entitlement. Worse, Donald, who understands nothing about history, constitutional principles, diplomacy (or anything else, really) and was never pressed to demonstrate such knowledge, has evaluated all of this country's alliances, and all of our social programs, solely through the prism of money, just as his father taught him to do. The costs and benefits of governing are considered in purely financial terms, as if the US Treasury were his personal piggy bank. To him, every dollar going out was his loss, while every dollar saved was his gain.
- Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man (2020), p. 15-16
- Although my my aunts and uncles will think otherwise, I'm not writing this book to cash in or out of a desire for revenge. If either of those had been my intention, I would have written a book about our family years ago, when there was no way to anticipate that Donald would trade on his reputation as a serially bankrupt businessman and irrelevant reality show host to ascend to the White House; when it would have been safer because my uncle wasn't in a position to threaten and endanger whistleblowers and critics. The events of the last three years, however, have forced my hand, and I can no longer remain silent. By the time this book is published, hundreds of thousands of American lives will have been sacrificed on the alter of Donald's hubris and willful ignorance. If he is afforded a second term, it would be the end of American democracy.
- Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man (2020), p. 16-17
- It's easy to sound coherent and somewhat knowledgeable when you control the narrative and are never pressed to elaborate on your premise or demonstrate that you actually understand the underlying facts. It is an indictment (among many) of the media that none of that changed during the campaign, when exposing Donald's lies and outrageous claims might actually have saved us from his presidency. On the few occasions he was asked about his positions and policies (which for all intents and purposes don't really exist) he still wasn't expected or required to make sense or demonstrate any depth of understanding. Since the election, he's figured out how to avoid such questions completely; White House press briefings and formal news conferences have been replaced with "chopper talk" during which he can pretend he can't hear any unwelcome questions over the noise of the helicopter blades. In 2020, his pandemic "press briefings" quickly devolved into mini-campaign rallies filled with self-congratulation, demagoguery, and ring kissing. In them he has denied the unconscionable failures that have already killed thousands, lied about the progress that's being made, and scapegoated the very people who are risking their lives to save us despite being denied adequate protection and equipment by his administration. Even as hundreds of thousands of Americans are sick and dying, he spins it as a victory, as proof of his stunning leadership. And in the event that anybody thinks he's capable of being serious or somber, he'll throw in a joke about bedding models or lie about the size of his Facebook following for good measure. Still the news networks refuse to pull away. The few journalists who do challenge him, and even those who simply ask Donald for words of comfort for a terrified nation, are derided and dismissed as "nasty." The through line from Donald's early, destructive behavior that Fred actively encouraged to the media's unwillingness to challenge him and the Republican Party's willingness to turn a blind eye to the daily corruption he has committed since January 20, 2017, have led to the impending collapse of this once great nations' economy, democracy, and health.
- Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World's Most Dangerous Man (2020), p. 203
- Seven hours later, Trump gave a long statement at his first Coronavirus Task Force press conference in three months. He spoke alone at the White House. No Pence, Fauci or Birx. He also shifted tone. Everything was not rosy with the outlook for the virus. "It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better," Trump said injecting an unusual dose of realism. "Something I don't like saying about things, but that's the way it is." Previously Trump had been reluctant to wear a mask. "Get a mask," he said. "Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They'll have an effect and we need everything we can get." His comments were a tacit acknowledgement that his previous approach had not worked, and that, in fact, the virus was much worse. The day was a microcosm of Trump's presidency, veering from "We have it under control" to "worse before it gets better," all in the span of a few hours. It was just the most recent example- and the last before this book went to press- that Trump's presidency was riddled with ambivalence, set on an uncertain course, swinging from combativeness to conciliation, and whipsawing from one statement or action to the opposite.
- Bob Woodward, Rage (2020), p. 384-385
- After I finished reporting for this book on President Trump, I felt weariness. The country was in real turmoil. The virus was out of control. The economy was in crisis with more than 40 million out of work. A powerful reckoning on racism and inequality was upon us. There seemed to be no end in sight, and certainly no clear path to get there. I thought back to the conversation with Trump on February 7 when he mentioned the "dynamite behind every door," the unexpected explosion that could change everything. He was apparently thinking about some external event that would affect the Trump presidency. But now, I've come to the conclusion that the "dynamite behind the door" was in plain sight. It was Trump himself. The oversized personality. The failure to organize. The lack of discipline. The lack of trust in others he had picked, in experts. The undermining or the attempted undermining of so many American institutions. The failure to be a calming, healing voice. The unwillingness to acknowledge error. The failure to do his homework. To extend the olive branch. To listen carefully to others. To craft a plan. Mattis, Tillerson and Coats are all conservatives or apolitical people who wanted to help him and the country. Imperfect men who answered the call to public service. They were not the deep state. Yet each departed with cruel words from their leader. They concluded that Trump was an unstable threat to their country. Think about that for a moment: The top national security leaders thought the president of the United States was a danger to the country.
- Bob Woodward, Rage (2020), p. 386-387
- On January 28, 2020, when Trump's national security adviser and his deputy warned Trump that the virus would be- not might be, but would be- the biggest national security threat to his presidency, the leadership clock had to be reset. It was a detailed forecast, supported by evidence and experience that unfortunately turned out to be correct. Presidents are the executive branch. There was a duty to warn. To listen, to plan, and to take care. For a long time Trump hedged, as did others, and said the virus is worrisome but not yet, not now. There were good reasons to ride both horses, but there should have been more consistent and courageous outspokenness. Leading is almost always risky. The virus, the "plague," as Trump calls it, puts the United States and the world in economic turmoil that may not be just a recession, but a depression. It is a genuine financial crisis, putting tens of millions out of work. Trump's solution is to try to recreate what he believes is the economic miracle he created in the pre-virus time. Democrats, Republicans and Trump did agree to spending at least $2.2 trillion on recovery, which will create its own future problems with growing deficits. The human cost has been almost unimaginable, with more than 130,000 Americans killed by the virus by July and no real end in sight.
- Bob Woodward, Rage (2020), p. 389
- The dead-seated hatreds of American politics flourished in the Trump years. He stoked them, and did not make concerted efforts to bring the country together. Nor did the Democrats. Trump felt deeply wronged by the Democrats who felt deeply wronged by Trump. The walls between them only grew higher and thicker. My 17 interviews with Trump presented a challenge. He denounced Fear, my first book on him, as untrue, a "scam" and a "joke," calling me a "Dem operative." Several of those closest to him told him that the book was true, and Lindsey Graham told him that I would not put words in his mouth and would report as accurately as possible. Trump decided, for reasons that are not clear to me, that he would cooperate. To his mind, he would become a reliable source. He is reliable at times, completely unreliable at others, and often mixed... But the interviews show he vacillated, prevaricated and at times dodged his role as leader of the country despite his "I alone can fix it" rhetoric. As America and the world know, Trump is an overpowering presence. He loves spectacle. In a time of crisis, the operational is much more important than the political or the personal. For tens of millions the optimistic American story has turned into a nightmare.
- Bob Woodward, Rage (2020), p. 389-390
- For nearly 50 years, I have written about nine presidents from Nixon to Trump- 20 percent of the 45 U.S. presidents. A president must be willing to share the worst with the people, the bad news with the good. All presidents have a large obligation to inform, warn, protect, to define goals and the true national interest. Trump has, instead, enshrined personal impulse as a governing principle of his presidency. When his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job.
- Bob Woodward, Rage (2020), p. 391-392
February 2020 edit
- Programs that reduce child poverty help even in years when poor or near-poor parents gain and, of course, are critical in bad times, since sooner or later booming job markets also bust. [...] The Trump administration has, for good measure, rewritten the eligibility rules for such programs in order to lower the number of people who qualify. The supposed goal: to cut costs by reducing dependence on government. (Never mind the subsidies and tax loopholes Trump’s crew has created for corporations and the super wealthy, which add up to many billions of dollars in spending and lost revenue.)
- Even before Donald Trump’s election, only one-sixth of eligible families with kids received assistance for childcare and a paltry one-fifth got housing subsidies. Yet his administration arrived prepared to put programs that helped some of them pay for housing and childcare on the chopping block. No point in such families looking to him for a hand in the future. He won’t be building any Trump Towers for them. Whatever “Make America Great Again” may mean, it certainly doesn’t involve helping America’s poor kids. As long as Donald Trump oversees their race into life, they’ll find themselves ever farther from the starting line.
March 2020 edit
- Most leaders lack the discipline to do routine risk-based horizon scanning, and fewer still develop the requisite contingency plans. Even rarer is the leader who has the foresight to correctly identify the top threat far enough in advance to develop and implement those plans. Suffice it to say, the Trump administration has cumulatively failed, both in taking seriously the specific, repeated intelligence community warnings about a coronavirus outbreak and in vigorously pursuing the nationwide response initiatives commensurate with the predicted threat. The federal government alone has the resources and authorities to lead the relevant public and private stakeholders to confront the foreseeable harms posed by the virus. Unfortunately, Trump officials made a series of judgments (minimizing the hazards of Covid-19) and decisions (refusing to act with the urgency required) that have needlessly made Americans far less safe. In short, the Trump administration forced a catastrophic strategic surprise onto the American people. But unlike past strategic surprises – Pearl Harbor, the Iranian revolution of 1979, or especially 9/11 – the current one was brought about by unprecedented indifference, even willful negligence. Whereas, for example, the 9/11 Commission Report assigned blame for the al-Qaida attacks on the administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan through George W Bush, the unfolding coronavirus crisis is overwhelmingly the sole responsibility of the current White House. [...] The White House detachment and nonchalance during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak will be among the most costly decisions of any modern presidency. These officials were presented with a clear progression of warnings and crucial decision points far enough in advance that the country could have been far better prepared. But the way that they squandered the gifts of foresight and time should never be forgotten, nor should the reason they were squandered: Trump was initially wrong, so his inner circle promoted that wrongness rhetorically and with inadequate policies for far too long, and even today. Americans will now pay the price for decades.
April 2020 edit
- The scale of the plague is surprising, indeed shocking, but not its appearance. Nor the fact that the U.S. has the worst record in responding to the crisis. [...] There will be recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, at severe and possibly horrendous cost, particularly for the poor and more vulnerable. But there will be no recovery from the melting of the polar ice sheets and the other devastating consequences of global warming. [...] The current administration had ample warning about a likely pandemic. In fact, a high-level simulation was run as recently as last October. Trump has reacted during his years in office in the manner to which we have become accustomed: by defunding and dismantling every relevant part of government and assiduously implementing the instructions of his corporate masters to eliminate the regulations that impede profits while saving lives — and leading the race to the abyss of environmental catastrophe, by far his greatest crime — in fact, the greatest crime in history when we consider the consequences.
- Noam Chomsky, in an interview with C.J. Polychroniou, Chomsky: Ventilator Shortage Exposes the Cruelty of Neoliberal Capitalism (April 1, 2020), Truthout
- Competing power centers are a motif of this administration, and its approach to the pandemic is no exception. [...] Nor does his operation appear to be internally coherent.
- If not in life, certainly in this administration.
- The President is the President of the United States, so they're considered official statements by the President of the United States
- White House press secretary Sean Spicer White House: Trump's tweets are 'official statements' June 6, ( the status of President Trump's Twitter statements)
- This is a presidency whose defining feature isn’t ideology, much less policy. It’s neurosis.
- Bret Stephens, "Trump Gives Conservatives Their Just Comeuppance" (15 September 2017), The New York Times
October 2020 edit
- As many have noted, Donald Trump has a startling inability to accept reality when he wants to believe something else, for reasons I tried to explain in Authoritarian Nightmare. He will seek out bizarre sources and toady yes-men to help him lie to himself. He wanted the virus to just go away, so he believed it would be killed by April warmth, or be cured by hydroxychloroquine, or destroyed by bleach, or be prevented by a vaccine that would be ready by October. And no sooner had he finally admitted how serious the situation was, he began pressuring states to “reopen” and return to normalcy, which some did to their sorrow. And he insisted on holding normal political re-election rallies and discouraging the wearing of masks and forcing schools to open in the fall and pushing poorly tested vaccines on the public to rejuvenate the economy and buoy his chances for re-election.
Blaming China. President Trump needed a scapegoat as well as sacrificial lambs. He teed up China, saying he had secret evidence it had created the virus and then negligently allowed it to spread around the world. He had been deceived by China’s President Xi early on, he explained, who had assured him over the phone that the disease was under control. Trump called him on February 6, offering to send CDC scientists to China to help eradicate the disease. He thought Xi would agree to this previously rejected offer because he and the Chinese leader had a personal relationship. But Xi was uninterested. He did give the impression that everything was under control in China, according to Matt Pottinger, Deputy Director of the National Security Council who listened in on the call (Rage, pp. 241-243). But China had taken dramatic steps to control the disease. By February 6, Wuhan and the province it sat in had been isolated from the rest of China and locked down with stringent quarantine regulations for two weeks. Some 40,000 healthcare workers had been sent to the area, hospitals were being rapidly built, and the infection curve was flattening out.
The Chinese government certainly did nothing to stop the spread of the disease abroad for a long time. But virologists around the world are virtually unanimous that COVID-19 evolved in nature, and was not manufactured in a laboratory. The United States became the world leader in coronavirus deaths not because Xi lied to Trump about how well China was containing the threat, but because Trump ignored for weeks and weeks the strongest warnings from his own experts to defend the country, and then most purposefully lied to the American people himself about what they should do. The blood is on his hands more than on anyone else’s, and deep down inside, beneath layers of excuses, denials, blame-shifting, and rationalizations, he probably knows it.
- Rather than representing the interests of the American public, Barr chooses to act as Trump’s lap dog
- Phillip Halpern (assistant United States Attorney General) according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Leaves DOJ After 36 Years Due to ‘Lap Dog’ Bill Barr’s ‘Slavish Obedience to Donald Trump’s Will’ on Oct 15th, 2020
- I think the American public has a right to rely upon what the president says about what his intent is. It seems to me that when a president makes an unambiguous statement of what his intent is, I can’t rely upon White House counsel saying, 'Well, that was not his intent.' Maybe White House counsel talked to the president. Maybe they didn’t, but I can’t tell.
- U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton , an appointee of President George W. Bush according to Judge wants to know if Trump is backing off Russia probe declassification published October 16, 2020
November 2020 edit
- People were upset about Trump's win in 2016 because he ran a campaign promising to implement policies that targeted racial and ethnic minorities with state violence (and he did not simply because he was mean or rude. In no sense is Biden's campaign comparable. Sorry! Biden won't be banning Christians, arbitrarily revoking the status of white immigrants here because of natural disasters, trying to sell off white populated parts of the country or encouraging police brutality against white people. Your disappointment is not oppression.
- Adam Serwer, 11/9/2020 on Twitter
December 2020 edit
(in chronological order)
- Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job! As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family...
- Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will serve as acting attorney general
- President Trump in William Barr: US attorney general to leave post by Christmas December 15, 2020
- We gather here today at the end of a historic week to affirm to the American people that hope is on the way. Karen and I were more than happy to step forward before this week was out to take this safe and effective coronavirus vaccine that we have secured and produced for the American people. It’s truly an inspiring day.
- I am proud to be the U.S. Congressman for Texas' 5th Congressional District. I am also proud to stand with @realDonaldTrump by OBJECTING on January 6th. I call on every fellow member of Congress to do the same.
U.S. Supreme Court rejects Trump-backed lawsuit to overturn Biden's election win edit
- As I have repeatedly said, only the Supreme Court can ultimately decide cases of real controversy among the states under our Constitution and that is why the justices should hear and decide this case
- Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry in Jeff Landry supports Texas effort to block electoral vote count that went to Joe Biden published December 9, 2020
- If the Supreme Court shows great Wisdom and Courage, the American People will win perhaps the most important case in history, and our Electoral Process will be respected again!
- President trump December 11, 2020
- America deserves an honest election, this is what they got: suitcases of ballots added in secret in Georgia, dead people voting in Wisconsin, money for vote scheme in Nevada, poll watchers denied access in Pennsylvania, second ballot dropbox found unlocked in Michigan, and clerk faces ??? in Michigan. The evidence is overwhelming. Call your legislators, demand they fight for honest elections
- @realDonaldTrump video December 11, 2020
- Texas lacks Article III standing to sue other states over how they conduct their own elections
- The constitutional issue is not whether voters committed fraud but whether state officials violated the law by systematically loosening the measures for ballot integrity so that fraud becomes undetectable
- Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas, in Republicans want more than a coup: Trump's loyalty test exposes their hatred for democracy December 11, 2020
- The case wasn’t rejected on the merits, the case was rejected on standing. So the answer to that is to bring the case now to the district court by the president, by some of the electors, alleging some of the same facts where there would be standing,” he said in a Friday interview on Newsmax.
- There’s nothing that prevents us from filing these cases immediately in the district court in which the president of course would have standing, some of the electors would have standing in that their constitutional rights have been violated.
- We’re not finished. Believe me.
- Rudy Giuliani in Giuliani says Trump team 'not finished' after Supreme Court defeat December 11, 2020
- It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court decided not to take this case and determine the constitutionality of these four states’ failure to follow federal and state election law,
- Ken Paxton in U.S. Supreme Court throws out Texas lawsuit contesting 2020 election results in four battleground states published December 11, 2020 updated December 12, 2020
- The fact that the Supreme Court wouldn’t find standing in an original jurisdiction matter between multiple states, and including the President of the States, is absurd. It is enumerated in the Constitution... .They just “chickened out” and didn’t want to rule on the merits of the case. So bad for our Country!
Post-presidency (2021-) edit
- BREAKING: The U.S. Capitol is on lockdown after pro-Trump protestors breached the building as Congress began to certify Electoral College votes for Biden.
- Supreme Court eras are often identified with their chief justices, as is true of the current period that began with Roberts nearly two decades ago. But the Court can be measured also by presidential influence. Certain presidents, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, who appointed eight justices in his twelve years in office, had a disproportionate effect on the Court. Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon also stood out for their imprint. The Trump effect, especially in terms of the individuals chosen and the resulting shift in the balance of power, has been incomparable. He is gone from office and they are here for life.
- Joan Biskupic, Nine Black Robes: Inside the Supreme Court's Drive to the Right and its Historic Consequences (2023), New York: William Morrow, first edition hardcover, p. 10-11
- One day when I was about 6, I was walking with my dad in New York City. We noticed that someone had stuck little folded squares of paper under the windshield wipers of the cars parked on the street beside us. My father picked one up and read it. I saw his face grow dark with anger. “What is it, Papa?” “It’s a message from people who think that all Jews should be killed.”
This would have been in the late 1950s, a time when the Nazi extermination of millions of Jews in Europe was still fresh in the American consciousness. Not, you might have thought, a good season for sowing murderous antisemitism in lower Manhattan. Already aware that, being the daughter of a Jewish father and gentile mother, I was myself a demi-semite, I was worried. I knew that these people wanted to kill my father, but with a typical child-centered focus, I really wanted to know whether the gentile half of my heredity would protect me in the event of a new Holocaust. “Would they kill me, too?” I asked. Yes, he told me, they would if they could. But he then reassured me that such people would never actually have the power to do what they wanted to. It couldn’t happen here.
I must admit that I’m grateful my father died before Donald Trump became president, before tiki-torch-bearing Nazi wannabes seeking to “Unite the Right” marched through Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, chanting “Jews will not replace us!” before one of them drove his car into a crowd of counterdemonstrators, killing Heather Heyer, and before President Trump responded to the whole event by declaring that “you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
Maybe the grubby little group behind the tracts my father and I saw that day in New York would have let me live. Maybe not. In those days home-grown fascists were rare and so didn’t have that kind of power.
- Rebecca Gordon, The Right’s Attempted Extermination Campaign of Queer People Is Textbook Fascism (4 July 2023), The Nation
- Why should it matter whether Donald Trump’s MAGA movement and the Republican Party he’s largely taken over represent a kind of fascism? The answer: because the logic of fascism leads so inexorably to the politics of extermination. Describing his MAGA movement as fascism makes it easier to recognize the existential threat it truly represents—not only to a democratic society but to specific groups of human beings within it.
I know it may sound alarmist, but I think it’s true: proto-fascist forces in this country have shown that they are increasingly willing to exterminate queer people, if that’s what it takes to gain and hold on to power. If I’m right, that means all Americans, queer or not, now face an existential threat.<br<For those who don’t happen to fall into one of MAGA’s target groups, let me close by paraphrasing Donald Trump: In the end, they’re coming after you. We’re just standing in the way.
- Rebecca Gordon, The Right’s Attempted Extermination Campaign of Queer People Is Textbook Fascism (4 July 2023), The Nation
- Trump's advisers believed his ego and pride prevented him from making sound, well-informed judgments. His management style resembled a carnival ride, jerking this way and that, forcing senior management officials to thwart his inane and sometimes illegal ideas. Some of them concluded that the president was a long-term and immediate danger to the country that he had sworn an oath to protect, yet they took comfort that he had not had to steer the country through a crisis. Trump's actions and words nevertheless had painful consequences. His assault on the rule of law degraded our democratic institutions and left Americans reasonably fearful they could no longer take for granted basic civil rights and untainted justice. His contempt for foreign alliances weakened America's leadership in the world and empowered dictators and despots. His barbarous immigration policies ripped migrant children out of the arms of their families. His bigoted rhetoric emboldened white supremacists to step out of the shadows. But at least Trump had not been tested by a foreign military strike, an economic collapse, or a public health crisis. At least not until 2020.
- Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year (2021), p. 1-2
- The year 2020 will be remembered in the American epoch as one of anguish and abject failure. The coronavirus pandemic killed more than half a million people in the United States and infected tens of millions more, the deadliest health crisis in a century. Through the administration's Operation Warp Speed helped produce vaccines in record time, its overall coronavirus response was mismanaged by the president and marred by ineptitude and backbiting. The virus was only one of the crises Trump confronted in 2020. The pandemic paralyzed the economy, plunging the nation into a recession during which low-wage workers, many of them minorities, suffered the most. The May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, under the knee of a white police officer ignited protests for racial justice and an end to police discrimination and brutality. Yet Trump sought to exploit the simmering divisions for personal political gain, quickly declared himself "your president of law and order" and relentlessly pressured Pentagon leaders to deploy active-duty troops against Black Lives Matter protestors. The worsening climate crisis, meanwhile, was almost entirely ignored Trump, who earlier in his term had rolled back environmental regulations and withdrawn the United States from the Paris Agreement. The president was instead preoccupied with stoking doubts about the legitimacy of the election. After he lost to Joe Biden, Trump fanned the flames of conspiracies and howled about fraud that did not exist. His false claims of a "rigged election" inspired thousands of people to storm the Capitol in a violent and ultimately failed insurrection on January 6, 2021.
- Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year (2021), p. 2
- Trump's standard tool kit for getting out of trouble- bullying, bluster, and manipulation- was useless in managing the pandemic. He tried to cloak reality with happy talk. He promised cures that would never be realized. He floated dangerous and unproven treatments, such as injecting bleach into patients' bodies. He muzzled experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, who challenged his shaky claims and became more popular than the president. He refused to lead by example and wear a mask. He picked feuds with health officials and state governors scrambling to respond to emergency outbreaks, striking out at those who didn't praise his haphazard response. Not only did he fail to keep Americans safe; he couldn't keep himself safe. Trump was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October 2020, zapping his false air of invincibility.
- Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year (2021), p. 5
- The coronavirus changed the world, altering how people worked, how families lived, and what constituted a community. These profound changes were accelerated by the recession and heightened by the tensions in the aftermath of Floyd's killing. Trump, however, principally governed for a minority of the country- his hard-core political supporters- and chose neither to try to unite the nation nor to reimagine a postpandemic America. He egged on the anger and disaffection among many white people who felt economically threatened and culturally marginalized. He pitted groups of Americans against one another. He uttered racist phrases and used his immense social media platforms to spread messages of hate. "His view of America is provincial, it's parochial, it's sullied, it's any other adjective that calls up a sense of narrowness and ugliness," said Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. "In so many ways, Donald Trump represents the death rattle of an old America, and it's loud and it's violent." A senior government official who worked closely with the president drew a parallel between Trump's handling of the Black Lives Matter protests and Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Nazi Germany.
- Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year (2021), p. 5
- I'm continuing to fight for this president. He's fought for us and so we're going to stay on top of that.
- Kelly Loeffler according to Sen. Loeffler: Warnock’s values are ‘out of step with Georgia aired January 3, 2020
- We will be back in some form
- Quoted by Kevin Liptak (20 January 2020), Trump departs Washington a pariah as his era in power ends, CNN
- The New York Times published an article Monday that's bone-chilling for anyone who cherishes our freedom, democracy and constitutional governance. The story recounted, with full cooperation of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, his plans to eliminate executive branch constraints on his power if he is elected president in 2024.
The obstacles to be eliminated include an independent Justice Department, independent leadership in administrative agencies and an independent civil service. Richard Neustadt, one of the country’s best known students of the American presidency, has said that in a constitutional democracy the chief executive “does not obtain results by giving orders – or not. ... He does not get action without argument. Presidential power is the power to persuade.”Trump’s plan would substitute loyalty to him for loyalty to the Constitution. This vision is simultaneously frightening and unsurprising. In 2019, he said, “I have to the right to do whatever I want as president.” And in December, Trump called for the “termination of ... the Constitution.”
In effect, he attempted to do exactly that in the run-up to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by pressuring state officials to reverse President Joe Biden’s electoral victory, attempting to weaponize the Justice Department and bullying Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election.
- Austin Sarat and Dennis Aftergut, Is America on the brink of tyranny? Trump's plan if elected in 2024 should frighten us all. (20 July 2023), USA Today
- The Times story outlined his 2025 road map to implement this command-and-control model of executive authority and centralization of power if he’s returned to the Oval Office. In effect, the article described how his team would replace our constitutional republic with an authoritarian state. Such a state seeks to eliminate the independence of civil servants. Saying good things about bureaucracy may be unpopular, but federal employees' competence, expert judgment and commitment to governance by law is essential to democratic government.
One definition of an authoritarian state is that it is characterized by the consolidation of power in a single leader, "a controlling regime that justifies itself as a 'necessary evil.'" That kind of control necessarily features "strict government-imposed constraints on social freedoms such as suppression of political opponents and anti-regime activity."
Those characteristics describe the contours of the 2025 blueprint that the Trump campaign wanted the public to see via the Times' report. As the story notes, they are setting the stage, if Trump is elected, “to claim a mandate” for the goal of centralizing power in him.
The Times quoted John McEntee, Trump’s 2020 White House director of personnel, defending the rejection of checks and balances on a president: “Our current executive branch was conceived of by liberals for the purpose of promulgating liberal policies. ... What’s necessary is a complete system overhaul.”
- Austin Sarat and Dennis Aftergut, Is America on the brink of tyranny? Trump's plan if elected in 2024 should frighten us all. (20 July 2023), USA Today
- In fact, the executive branch, like the two other branches, was devised by the framers of our Constitution, to limit power by dividing it. Even Alexander Hamilton, who defended energy in the executive branch, suggested that the path to tyranny was marked when government officials are “obliged to take refuge in the absolute power of a single man.”
James Madison joined Hamilton in warning in The Federalist 48 that “power is of an encroaching nature.” For that reason, The Federalist 51 states, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”
It described the paradox facing the framers as this: One must “enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.”
Trump’s 2025 blueprint would end governmental control on a president so he can dominate and control the governed.
- Along with divided power, the central constraint that our founding documents create is the overarching legal institution known as the rule of law. That is why Trump’s plan for a radical reorganization of the executive branch starts with ending “the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department independence from White House political control.”
Controlling the prosecutorial power allows a president to use it to favor friends, destroy enemies and intimidate ordinary citizens tempted to speak out.
That would sound the death knell of American freedom. As John Locke, the 17th century political philosopher who inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence, wrote, “Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.” Or as Blake Smith put it in an article in Foreign Policy last year, “The bureaucratic ethos is essential to the functioning of the state and the preservation of private life as a separate, unpolitical domain of tolerated freedom.”
At the close of America’s first decade as a constitutional republic, George Washington voluntarily chose not to seek a third term as president to avoid setting the country on the road to the tyranny of lifetime rule by a president. He understood from the revolution against a king that retaining the personal power of one person is the central goal of authoritarianism.
If voters elect Trump president in 2024, he will implement the plan his campaign has purposefully leaked. The outcome is easy to foretell. A bureaucracy purged of those loyal to the Constitution rather than to Trump will send free and fair elections to history’s landfill, along with the Bill of Rights and the freedoms they were designed to protect.