A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 205th Unpresidented Week As POTUS
Trump’s first major typo after winning the election was spelling Unprecedented incorrectly. He infamously tweeted “Unpresidented.” This typo is emblematic of his administration: An impulsive, frantically thrown together group of characters with virtually no oversight. After Trump was sworn in, I started writing the weekly “Unpresidented” column, analyzing every week of his presidency. This is week 205.
Update: President Trump has signed the COVID relief bill, but the damage is done. Millions of Americans have unnecessarily lost a week’s worth of unemployment benefits. Below is our article on how he sabotaged the effort.
The split-screen was stark, but not surprising. Outgoing President Donald Trump was golfing at his luxury Mar-a-Lago club and Vice President Mike Pence was vacationing in Vail, Colorado on the taxpayers’ dime. Meanwhile, millions of Americans lost their enhanced unemployment benefits and stared down the barrel of looming evictions at the end of this month. The optics of this would be terrible in their own right, but the context made it worse. This is the Trump Administration’s fault.
In one of his final acts as President, Donald Trump made an impossibly horrible Christmas even worse for millions. Tens of millions of Americans have to spend the coming days in debilitating fear. After Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-relief bill and a government spending omnibus bill, Trump decided to blow them up. The COVID bill included $600 checks ($2,400 for a family of four), $300 in additional enhanced weekly unemployment benefits, $25 billion in rental aid, more PPP money for businesses, and an extension of the federal eviction moratorium. Trump refused to sign it and demanded the stimulus checks increase to $2,000. To those not paying attention, this may sound like Trump is coming in to help the American people but that’s not the case. Context is crucial.
For anyone pretending Trump cares about helping Americans, look no further than the consequences of this delay. The fact Trump hasn’t signed this bill means that over 12 million Americans lost their enhanced unemployment benefits and more could face eviction as soon as this week. Even if Trump signs the bill now, the delay caused those with unemployment to miss a week of enhanced checks. Not to mention a potential government shutdown. Congress literally negotiated the deal with the White House. If Trump really wanted $2k checks, he would’ve asked for it during the negotiations. Instead, he opted for sabotage.
Let’s go even further and highlight the timeline of events. In May, House Democrats passed the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act. Republicans did nothing, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refusing to take it up for a vote. Negotiations didn’t continue until July. Democrats then dropped their ask by $1 trillion. As negotiations began to heat up between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Trump jumped in to sabotage talks in August with flimsy executive orders that stalled talks for months.
Now, once negotiations were over between Democrats, Republicans, and his own administration, Trump has decided to jump in again. Trump was MIA throughout all these negotiations while he focused on his attempted election coup. The White House even endorsed the bill. It passed, then Trump pushed for $2,000 checks. The bottom line is this: he doesn’t care, he’s a saboteur. This is probably more about punishing McConnell and Republicans who haven’t supported his attempted coup and causing chaos than anything else.
Even if Trump’s ask wasn’t serious, Democrats wasted no time in using it to try and secure more help for struggling Americans. After Trump made the demand on Tuesday, Speaker Pelosi immediately called Trump’s bluff, calling for the $2,000 to be passed in a standalone bill via unanimous consent on Christmas Eve. This was a pretty brilliant move. Pelosi put the ball in the GOP’s court, knowing Democrats could pass this in a heartbeat and Republicans would be the ones opposing it, ahead of the runoffs.
So as of Tuesday night, this was the state of play: Trump demanded $2k checks. Pelosi called his bluff, making it known Democrats have always been pro-relief. Republicans were then in a spot of having to either say no and try to keep his caucus together ahead of the Georgia runoffs or cave and pass the $2k checks. Well, so far, they’ve said no. On Thursday, Democrats tried to pass the $2,000 checks and Republicans rejected it. Trump complained about it on Twitter, but a mention of Republicans was conveniently omitted from his tweet.
I wanted to lay all this out because while some people are somehow blaming Pelosi for this, it’s important to note that McConnell and Trump are to blame for the past impasses. And when it comes to Trump himself, the only constant in his role in COVID relief negotiations after the first bill was signed has been to sweep in at the last second to sabotage talks. Folks shouldn’t let him rewrite history.
All Trump gave vulnerable Americans for Christmas is anxiety-inducing uncertainty. Trump was born into millions and has never struggled for anything. He’s now at his golf club after inflicting more suffering on those already suffering. Unfortunately, this isn’t all he was up to this week.
This week, President Trump pardoned dozens of people, including former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, longtime Advisor Roger Stone, former Trump Campaign Advisor George Papadopoulos, Charles Kushner, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Rep. Chris Collins, Alex van der Zwaan, and four Blackwater guards who committed war crimes in an Iraqi Massacre.
Aside from the obvious cronyism, what we’re witnessing is the completion of Trump’s obstruction of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Manafort, Stone, Papadopoulos, and Flynn all lied to federal prosecutors to protect Trump, and now he’s returning the favor. The Mueller report outlined 100+ pages of contacts between Trump associates and Russians. There was plenty of collusion. It also outlines how obstruction from Trump and his associates impacted Mueller’s ability to find enough evidence to charge a criminal conspiracy.
The arch of Trump’s obstruction is now complete. Trump dangled pardons as investigators sought cooperation from his cronies, they lied to protect him, and here is their reward. The outgoing President is literally going on a pardon spree for his corrupt cronies, including those who lied to help cover up his campaign’s contacts with the Russian government, and his supporters are still cheering him on. What a corrupt, disgraceful moment in history.
This all happened as William Barr saw his final day as Attorney General. Barr’s legacy is that he came out of retirement to put his lifelong obsession with the unitary executive theory into practice enabling the most authoritarian president in history. Good riddance.
Now, on to the attempted coup. As we know, Trump has met with his pardoned former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the craziest conspiracy theorist lawyer in the country Sidney Powell, discussing the feasibility of a military coup. Trump also met with Republicans that are eager to challenge the electoral college results on January 6. As I pointed out last week, this will all fail, but nevertheless, this is banana republic level lunacy that makes Nixon’s final days look chill.
Fortunately, it’s beginning to look like the chickens are coming home to roost for some of those spreading these election lies. Voting machine companies Dominion and Smartmatic have been issuing legal threats to Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN, sparking some “corrections” to their reporting. But the lies aren’t abating and the lawsuits look promising.
As much as I am a strong defender of the First Amendment, I am not a fan of propagandists lying with impunity. It appears libel law is a powerful tool against disinformation. Right-wing media has been lying about Democrats for decades, but politicians aren’t going to sue them. But when you defame companies like they’ve been doing to Dominion and Smartmatic… now you have a problem.
As we approach the Biden era, we must take the threat of right-wing extremism seriously. There is a movement of conspiracy theorists openly calling for the end of the republic and the beginning of American authoritarianism. It’s coming from both Republicans and QAnon loons. If organized de-radicalization strategies are not implemented, this will only get worse.
Let’s dive into yet another Unpresidented week.Looking to make a difference? Consider signing one of these sponsored petitions:
COVID Relief Passes
Day 1,432: Monday, December 21
Monday’s top stories:
- CNBC: Congress passes long-awaited Covid relief bill and government funding plan
- CNBC: Americans will get stimulus checks as soon as next week, Mnuchin says (Until Trump interjects)
- CNN: Trump downplays massive cyber hack on government after Pompeo links attack to Russia
- CNN: Some White House advisers fear Trump’s final days
- CNN: Distribution of Moderna vaccine set to begin today as coronavirus cases continue to surge
- CNN: Biden receives first dose of Covid-19 vaccine on live television
- CNN: House Democrats subpoena HHS and CDC directors for documents in political interference investigation
- Politico: Fauci to get Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday
- Business Insider: Sidney Powell was at the White House Sunday to push for an executive order that would allow voting machines to be seized
- CNN: Four key ways Barr broke with Trump at the attorney general’s news conference
- BBC News: New coronavirus variant: What do we know?
- The Washington Post: More than 1.3 million Georgians have already voted in the Senate runoffs, rivaling general election turnout
- NPR: Trump Drives A Wedge Among Georgia Republicans, Risking A Larger GOP Split
- The New York Times: The ‘Red Slime’ Lawsuit That Could Sink Right-Wing Media
- Business Insider: Pro-Trump network Newsmax airs 2-minute video admitting it has ‘no evidence’ of outlandish fraud claims against 2 voting-machine companies
- The Daily Beast: Heavily Armed Far-Right Mob Floods Oregon Capitol
- Politico: Robert E. Lee statue removed from Capitol
- USA TODAY: West Point accuses more than 70 cadets of cheating in worst academic scandal in nearly 45 years
- NBC News: Britain cut adrift as mutant virus strain prompts global alarm
- CNN: Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny dupes spy into revealing how he was poisoned
A Pardon Flurry And COVID Relief Sabotage
Day 1,433: Tuesday, December 22
Tuesday’s top stories:
- Law & Crime: Breaking the Dam, Trump Grants Clemency to Mueller Convicts, Blackwater Guards and Ex-GOP Congressmen Who Endorsed Him
- NBC News: Trump blasts Covid relief bill just passed by Congress, demands changes
- CNN: Biden says ‘our darkest days’ in battling Covid-19 ‘are ahead of us’
- Business Insider: Biden says the Pentagon isn’t briefing his team on the suspected Russian cyberattack
- NBC News: Feds have discussed obtaining Giuliani’s electronic communications
- CBS News: “Dozens” of top Treasury email accounts hacked, senator says
- NPR: Dominion Voting Systems Employee Sues Trump Campaign And Allies, Alleging Defamation
- CNN: Pfizer and Moderna are testing their vaccines against UK coronavirus variant
- The Daily Beast: Trump Tells Sidney Powell He Won’t Name Her ‘Special Counsel’
- Forbes: Sidney Powell Claims She’s Been Banned From Seeing Or Speaking To Trump
- NBC News: As Trump meets with QAnon influencers, the conspiracy theory’s adherents beg for dictatorship
- Politico: House Republicans meet with Trump to discuss overturning election results
- Axios: Trump turns on Pence, Meadows and McConnell in desperate final days
- Axios: “Sadly, Mitch forgot”: Trump trashes McConnell in astonishing email to GOP senators
- CNN: Biden poised to nominate Connecticut education chief Miguel Cardona as education secretary
- The Sacramento Bee: Gavin Newsom names California’s first Latino U.S. senator to replace Kamala Harris
- CNN: Republican lawmakers who downplayed coronavirus concerns face backlash over early vaccinations
- Business Insider: The Justice Department is suing Walmart, accusing the retailer of turning its pharmacies into a network of opioid suppliers that helped fuel the epidemic
- ProPublica: How COVID-19 Hollowed Out a Generation of Young Black Men
- CBS News: Blacks in Air Force face many forms of discrimination, inspector general report finds
- AP: WH virus coordinator Deborah Birx says she will retire
- The Hill: Pat Robertson says Trump lives in ‘alternate reality’ and Biden will be president
- The Hill: Florida Democrat files petition to disbar Gaetz
- Bloomberg: Bannon Ordered to Appear Before FTC in Cambridge Analytica Probe
- Business Insider: Officials finally found a case of a dead person voting, accusing a Republican of pretending to be his dead mom to vote for Trump
- CNN: Israel’s government collapses, not with a bang but a whimper, triggering fourth election in 2 years
Returning The Favor
Day 1,434: Wednesday, December 23
Wednesday’s top stories:
- CNN: Trump issues 26 new pardons, including ones for Stone, Manafort and Charles Kushner
- USA TODAY: US reaches deal with Pfizer, BioNTech for 100 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses
- NBC News: Trump threw a wrench into Covid relief. What could happen next?
- Business Insider: Trump’s surprise demand for $2,000 stimulus checks blew up Mitch McConnell’s master plan and leaves him in a no-win situation
- Axios: Pelosi on Trump’s call to increase stimulus payments: “Let’s do it!”
- The Hill: Georgia Senate candidate Ossoff backs Trump’s call for $2K checks
- CBS News: Democrats will try to approve $2,000 direct checks, putting Republicans on the spot
- CNN: Trump’s veto of massive defense bill sets up possible override vote next week
- Reuters: Millions of U.S. vaccine doses sit on ice, putting 2020 goal in doubt
- CNN: White House coronavirus task force no longer proactively sending reports to states
- CNN: Researchers think ‘hundreds’ of people in US could have new UK coronavirus strain
- Market Watch: A second more contagious new strain of COVID-19 has been detected in the U.K. from South Africa
- The New York Times: A President Unhappy, Unleashed and Unpredictable
- HuffPost: Trump Back At Mar-A-Lago, Raising Taxpayer Golf Tab To $151.5 Million
- NBC News: Migrant women file class-action lawsuit for alleged medical abuse at ICE detention center
- The Daily Beast: Voting Company Dominion Threatens to Sue Trump-Boosting Networks Over Election Conspiracies
- BuzzFeed News: Republicans Are Facing Very Real Legal Consequences From Trump’s Voter Fraud Lies
- Los Angeles Times: Newsom names Assemblywoman Shirley Weber to succeed Padilla as California secretary of state
- The Guardian: Delayed Covid vaccines for poor countries ‘will leave Europe vulnerable for years’
- The Daily Beast: A Massive Purge Is Underway at Alex Jones’ Infowars
- CNN: US says Iranian-backed militias ‘almost certainly’ behind recent rocket attack near US embassy in Baghdad
- The Guardian: ‘Our blood is cheaper than water’: anger in Iraq over Trump pardons
- CBS News: France rewards hundreds of frontline immigrant workers with citizenship
The Trump Who Stole Christmas
Day 1,435-1436: Thursday-Friday, December 24 – December 25
After the White House went out of its way to say President Trump had many meetings and calls today, without listing any, @petermorrisCNN got video of him on the golf course. pic.twitter.com/x3jtrUOMmH
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) December 24, 2020
- Business Insider: Trump just cost jobless workers one week of federal unemployment assistance after he failed to sign the relief bill by midnight on Saturday
- The Hill: House GOP rejects unanimous consent on $2,000 direct payments
- USA TODAY: The federal eviction moratorium expires in January. It could leave 40 million Americans homeless.
- The Tennessean: Nashville explosion: MNPD confirms Anthony Q. Warner as a person of interest in bombing
- Politico: Congress scrambles to avert shutdown after Trump’s stimulus demands
- Business Insider: Trump said he’d be working ‘tirelessly’ for Americans at Mar-a-Lago over Christmas, and then he went golfing
- Bloomberg: McConnell, GOP Face Double Split With Trump Over Relief, Defense
- Reuters: U.S. cyber agency says SolarWinds hackers are ‘impacting’ state, local governments
- Bloomberg: Trump Calls for Special Counsel on Election on Barr’s Last Day
- CNN: Frustrated Trump met with Pence before holiday break
- The Atlantic: Trump’s Pardon of Manafort Is the Realization of the Founders’ Fears
- AP: Kushner pardon revives ‘loathsome’ tale of tax evasion, sex
- USA TODAY: Donald Trump executive order banning diversity training blocked by federal judge
- CNN: Dominion sends legal letters to conservative media figures warning of ‘imminent’ action
- Reuters: Nearly 2.1 million have voted early in U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia
- The Hill: Judge approves deal to expedite Georgia runoff ballots
- NPR: Millions Of Christmas Gifts May Arrive Late Due To Overload At The Postal Service
- USA TODAY: Wild, wet and white: Big storm threatens holiday plans across central, southern, eastern U.S.
- Bloomberg: Pompeo’s Wife Tested Positive for Coronavirus as Cases Spiked
- USA TODAY: As Trump leaves office, 50% of Americans see him as a ‘failed’ president
- The Hill: Poll: 69 percent back Biden’s federal mask mandate
- The Guardian: Brexit deal: Boris Johnson poised to announce UK and EU have reached trade agreement
- Reuters: China to suspend UK flights indefinitely -foreign ministry