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2019: A Trump Moment Retrospective, Pt. 2

— January 6, 2020

The 2019 Trump moment retrospective concludes, pulling together the last six months of a tumultuous year. How much more of this can we afford?

In Part 1 of this Trump Moment retrospective last week, we looked at the first six months of President Trump’s shenanigans in 2019. Buckle up, because the second half of the year got even crazier!

On Independence Day, the President gave a Salute to America speech in Washington D.C. Trump, who has previously flamed other Presidents for reading from teleprompters, blamed his own teleprompter for his assertion that the Continental Army of 1775 “took over the airports.” Perhaps his device was less to blame for this Trump moment than his reading proficiency, as hypothesized in this analysis of the speech by a teacher who works with struggling readers. Poor reading skill can’t be blamed for the outright lies in a speech he gave a few days later, bragging that his Administration, which has actively shredded environmental protections, works “maybe harder than all previous administrations” at defending it.

Later in July, Trump told four minority Democratic Congresswomen to “go back [to the] places from which they came,” which for three of them would be the United States (and the fourth has been a naturalized citizen longer than Melania Trump). A literal interpretation was not the point, though, and his base understands that: it’s about reminding us who is a “real American” and who, in their worldview, is not. Also this month, the Trump campaign released an ad praising the wholesomeness of American small business while showing stock footage of a storefront in Japan, and emphasized his disdain of the environment that he protects better than everyone else by selling Trump-imprinted plastic straws for $1.50 each. Trump rounded out July by asserting that the Constitution gives him the right to do anything he wants.

August was a hot month for Team Trump. He wanted to buy Greenland. Then he issued orders demanding that American companies immediately exit China. He threatened to punish France and Germany by releasing ISIS fighters in Europe, considered changing the Constitution by executive order, and, in a typically Trump moment during a speech to actual veterans in Kentucky, talked about awarding himself the Medal of Honor. Trump suggested dropping nuclear bombs on hurricanes. He made it clear that he would pardon those who illegally seized land or broke environmental laws to build his vanity wall. As the President tweeted a pro-himself video that featured a white nationalist logo, the Trump campaign reminded supporters that “this is our country, not theirs.” He skipped the G7 climate meeting, but pushed to hold the 2020 G7 meeting at his own resort.

President Trump observes a suit-clad man motioning over a hurricane chart.
President Trump receiving a briefing about the anticipated track of Hurricane Dorian in August, 2019. Public domain photo by Shealah Craighead, via Flickr.

The President opened the month of September by warning Alabama residents to take cover from Hurricane Dorian, which wasn’t headed to Alabama. When the National Weather Service set the record straight, Trump defended himself by showing a map of the hurricane’s projected path that had been obviously (and poorly) doctored with a Sharpie. Just before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he apparently made, and then canceled, a clandestine meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David. Revelations also became public in September of a July Trump moment when the President had sought to pressure a foreign power into producing information he could use to harm a political opponent. Trump responded by threatening a civil war if he were removed from office, accusing a member of Congress of treason, and opening up another investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

In October, President Trump, whose proposed 2020 budget cuts Medicare by $845 billion over ten years, promised senior citizens in Florida that he wouldn’t let anyone ever take Medicare away. In the same speech, he proposed starting a state-run media network to get a “real voice” out there (drawing cheers from a party that traditionally distrusts government-run outlets). Incidentally, the law prohibits the U.S. government from engaging in covert propaganda against Americans, because it amounts to a national security threat, yet this is exactly what the Ukraine whistleblower stopped. Also in October, President Trump abandoned our Kurdish allies to their Turkish attackers, wrote a letter that Turkish President Erdoğan tossed in the trash, declared his intent to pillage Syrian oil, and rewarded anti-impeachment Republican senators with sweet, sweet fundraising cash. One final Trump moment: the revelation of tax filings that look an awful lot like fraud.

November’s headlines were dominated by the impeachment hearings, but that’s not all. At a Trump rally in Mississippi, the President lied to his supporters about yet more easily verifiable facts, this time a light on a camera going off (that had never been on), and how it meant he must have been pulled off the air (during an event that wasn’t being broadcast live). Getty photographer Mark Wilson captured a strange Trump moment, a sharpie-scrawled notes-to-self that began, “I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NOTHING. I WANT NO QUID PRO QUO…” And more tax documents surfaced, showing that the Trump Organization’s fraud-like figuring had extended to Trump Tower itself.

The defining Trump Moment for December was, naturally, his impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. However, that didn’t stop the little things from piling up. Like the time the President pressured the Pentagon to award a $400 million contract to a firm whose bid didn’t pass muster, but their CEO appeared as a guest on FOX. President Trump continued to use his private phone for government business, despite the danger of foreign surveillance (but her emails!). His signature tariffs cost American jobs. Trump is making it harder for poor people to simply exist, through criminalizing homelessness and cutting food assistance. In 2019, the President spent one out of every five days at a Trump golf course, despite multiple claims during the 2016 campaign that he would never have the time or inclination to golf at all.

Despite all of this and more, the donations continue to roll in, with his campaign raising $46 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 alone. As we settle into 2020, with Trump’s Iran war looming ahead of us, let us remember that elections have consequences. How much more of this can we afford?

Related: 2019: A Trump Moment Retrospective, Pt. 1


Donald Trump Roasted Over Airport Gaffe During Salute To Revolutionary War; His Explanation: “Teleprompter Went Out” – Updated
Trump Once Railed Against Presidents Using Teleprompters — Now He’s Blaming One for His ‘Airports’ Gaffe
The Biggest Lie in Trump’s Environmental Speech Today
Trump Tells America What Kind of Nationalist He Is
Crowd chants ‘send her back’ as Trump attacks Ilhan Omar – video
How Trump distorts facts to make Ilhan Omar seem like an enemy to the US
The Small American Business in a Trump Campaign Ad Is Actually in Tokyo
Trump Campaign Sells 10 Plastic Straws for $15: “Liberal Paper Straws Don’t Work”
Trump tells auditorium full of teens the Constitution gives him ‘right to do whatever I want’
‘Greenland belongs to Greenland’: Denmark says selling world’s largest island to US is absurd
Trump says he’s ordering American companies to immediately start looking for an alternative to China
The bizarre-even-by-Trump-standards past 72 hours, explained
Trump suggests ‘nuking hurricanes’ to stop them hitting America – report
Mexico border wall: Trump orders aides to seize private land and disregard environmental rules
Trump Tweets Gushing Support Video With Logo Linked To White Nationalists
Trump campaign attacks AOC, Democrats: ‘This is our country, not theirs’
The Amazon Is on Fire, But Trump Still Skipped the G7 Climate Meeting
Trump’s push to hold the G7 at a resort he still owns and profits from, explained
Sharpie-gate? Trump shows apparently altered hurricane map
Trump Insists His Hurricane Warning Was Right Even After NWS Corrected Him
Trump Cancels a Secret Meeting With the Taliban Days Before 9/11 Anniversary
If This Isn’t Impeachable, Nothing Is
Trump’s Civil War Tweet Is Bad. This Other Tweet May Be Unconstitutional.
Trump Administration Reportedly Reviving Investigation Into Hillary Clinton’s Emails
Donald Trump Hints at Launch of State-Run Media, Wants to ‘Start Our Own Network’
Running Covert Propaganda Against Americans Is Illegal. Trump Tried It Anyway.
Fox News in Disarray as Hosts Struggle to Digest Trump’s Betrayal of the Syrian Kurds
Why Turkey Treated Trump’s Letter as Trash
Trump lures GOP senators on impeachment with cold cash
If U.S. Takes Syrian Oil, It May Violate International Laws Against Pillage
Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies
Trump Lied To Supporters About Something They Could See With Their Own Eyes
Read Trump’s very large, very strange Sharpie notes on impeachment
Trump Tax Records Reveal New Inconsistencies — This Time for Trump Tower
Trump pressured Pentagon to give $400 million border wall contract to his favorite Fox News guest
Fed report: Tariffs contribute to job losses, increased production costs
Trump still uses his personal cell phone despite warnings and increased call scrutiny
Trump’s Plan to Criminalize Homelessness Is Taking Shape
Trump Administration Finalizes First Food Benefit Cut
President Trump spent one of every five days at a golf club in 2019: report
Donald ‘I Won’t Have Time to Play Golf’ Trump, Oh Wait
Trump campaign credits impeachment for massive $46 million fundraising haul
Trump’s Iran war has begun
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