A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 181st Unpresidented Week As POTUS

In a week where coronavirus hit new highs, Trump prematurely pushed for school reopenings and committed one of the most dictatorial acts of his presidency.
Donald Trump, left, is seen outside the Federal Courthouse in Newark, N.J., with Roger Stone, the director of Trump’s presidential exploratory committee that year, Monday, Oct. 25, 1999. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)

Donald Trump, left, is seen outside the Federal Courthouse in Newark, N.J., with Roger Stone, the director of Trump’s presidential exploratory committee that year, Monday, Oct. 25, 1999. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)

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 181.

Yes, that is Roger Stone in the above photo at Donald Trump’s side. At the time, Roger Stone was advising President Trump when he formed an exploratory committee for the presidential nomination of the Reform Party in 1999. After attacking his potential primary opponent Pat Buchanan’s racism and accusing him of appealing to the “staunch right wacko vote” (tactics Trump would later use), Trump quickly dropped his bid… but he never dropped Roger Stone. Stone stood by Trump’s side then, and he did so again throughout the Russia probe and lied to investigators on his behalf, and now he’s been rewarded for it.

On Friday, America’s coronavirus cases hit over 70,000 according to NBC News, the largest single-day case growth ever. That same day, President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime advisor and friend Roger Stone. You read that right. Stone had been convicted and sentenced for obstruction, false statements to investigators, and witness tampering. Trump commuted his sentence days before he was set to go to prison.

What made this worse was that it appeared Stone withheld incriminating information about Donald Trump from investigators, and was rewarded for breaking the law. Meanwhile, Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen, who turned on Trump and told the truth of Trump’s involvement in the hush-money schemes, was taken into custody again this week.

Roger Stone lied about his conversations with Wikileaks to protect President Trump. After being charged, he refused to cooperate and continued to lie to protect Trump. Stone could’ve told investigators that he spoke on the phone with Trump multiple times about the Wikileaks drops (which unredacted pages of the Mueller report indicate he did). Stone could’ve provided more details about how robust his coordination with then-Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and then-Campaign CEO Steve Bannon was, and how much Trump was involved. But he didn’t.

After Stone was convicted, Attorney General William Barr improperly interfered in the case to reduce the sentencing recommendations for Stone, as testified to by US Attorney Aaron Zelinsky. Now, we have this Friday night commutation, which follows other Friday night efforts to undermine the rule of law. Trump has fired multiple Inspectors General on Friday nights and 2 weeks ago, Barr moved to fire Geoffrey Berman as the head prosecutor at the Southern District of New York.

In the official White House statement, the Russia investigation was falsely blasted as a witch hunt, unfair, and improper, in spite of the DOJ’s own Inspector General concluding otherwise. Roger Stone’s commutation is not normal. None of this is normal. It’s normal of authoritarian regimes, but not of American administrations. Not only is this blatantly dictatorial, it upholds a “justice” system that distorts the law for well-connected white people while systemically incarcerating and murdering black people.

The gravity of this abuse of power should not be understated. It’s objectively corrupt and un-American. It appears the gravity of this moment was felt by one particular person of importance to this case and investigation: former Special Counsel Robert Mueller broke his silence by publishing an op-ed in The Washington Post.

Mueller’s op-ed reminded Americans that Roger Stone is still a convicted felon and that the Russia investigation was run legitimately. The op-ed served as a defense of the Russia probe, not just a condemnation of the Stone commutation. It’s important to watch what happens in the Barr-Durham probe in the coming months. They’re still criminally probing the Russia probe. Mueller is clearly concerned, otherwise, he wouldn’t have spoken out. We may hear more from him as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is calling on him to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

During the impeachment trial of President Trump, Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) said: “You may be asking, how much damage can he really do in the next several months until the election? A lot. A lot of damage…This is why, if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed.” Schiff was right. The Stone commutation is just part of the damage Trump has done since impeachment.

We are looking for leadership on COVID-19 and racial justice so Trump does this for Roger Stone? How does commuting the sentence of Roger Stone, who was legitimately convicted and sentenced, help Americans put food on your table? Does it defeat COVID-19? How does it benefit America? It doesn’t. It was Trump protecting a friend who didn’t tell the truth.

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These authoritarian moves came one day after the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled that the president is not above the law. SCOTUS rejected Trump’s argument of absolute immunity in the Trump tax case brought by Manhattan DA Cy Vance. The Manhattan prosecutor can subpoena Trump’s tax returns but Trump may still fight in lower courts. The Congressional case was sent back to a lower court.

I know these cases are nuanced and we likely might not see Trump’s tax returns before the election, but it is a great victory for the rule of law that SCOTUS unmistakably rejected Trump’s dictatorial argument of absolute immunity. This was bigger than Trump’s taxes. SCOTUS ruled that the president is not immune to criminal investigation, which marks a huge precedent.

The 5 conservatives on SCOTUS could’ve ruled that POTUS had absolute immunity, and broke our democracy, but they didn’t. Roberts, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh ruled with liberals. If this ruling came before impeachment, Trump’s lawyers would’ve had to scrap their entire defense. The big picture is encouraging for our democracy. This precedent ensures future presidents can’t make the same arguments of immunity. This was also a big loss for the unitary executive theory, Barr’s lifelong philosophy.

Meanwhile, President Trump continued to further botch his response to the coronavirus. While the US overall continued to hit new highs, Florida over the weekend hit over 15,000 cases in a single day, which tops what New York reached during their peak. Trump continued to claim that the US only has a high number of cases because of high testing but every single other developed country in the world is still testing but aren’t finding as many cases. That’s because their leaders contained coronavirus and Trump has not.

On top of the excuses, there were several moves that would genuinely make our situation worse. The Trump Administration responded to what they say is increasing influence from China on the World Health Organization by… announcing America will leave the World Health Organization and ensuring China has more influence? The move made no sense. Domestically, we were living in Idiocracy.

In spite of his own health experts at the CDC warning of schools and universities being at the “highest risk” of becoming coronavirus hotspots, President Trump not only demanded they reopen, he used extortion tactics to pressure them into doing so. Trump threatened to withhold funding from schools if they don’t reopen and threatened international students with deportation if they don’t attend on-campus classes, further pushing schools to reopen.

Secretary of Education Betsey DeVos echoed these calls, and drew backlash after a CNN interview in which she ignored the CDC’s guidelines on reopening and pushed for schools to reopen regardless. I’m surprised she didn’t make the case that we need to reopen schools so kids can protect the buildings from grizzly bears.

President Trump is pushing schools to reopen in spite of the CDC warnings. Trump pushed for premature reopenings in states that led to the spikes we’re currently seeing, leaving states like Texas, Florida, and Arizona with overwhelmed hospitals. What more does Trump need to do for his base to realize he doesn’t care about their lives, just their votes?

But have no fear, over the weekend President Trump finally wore a mask while visiting Walter Reed Hospital. This drew “BREAKING NEWS” headlines. The fact that the President of the United States utilizing the most basic of COVID-19 preventative measures makes headlines just shows you how low this anti-science, anti-intellectual ignoramus has sunk the office.

While images of President Trump with a mask circulated on social media, so did new oppo research on Dr. Anthony Fauci that the White House sent to reporters. They pointed out all the times Fauci has been wrong. Rather than put his head down, learn from his failures to combat the virus, and move forward with a better approach (like any sane, secure human would do), Trump is launching a smear campaign against Dr. Fauci to divert blame.

Oh, and how can we forget President Trump’s attacks on NASCAR and Bubba Wallace for banning the Confederate flag this week. Trump demanded Bubba Wallace apologize for the noose misunderstanding but he still hasn’t demanded Russian President Vladimir Putin apologize for putting bounties on US troops and interfering in US democracy. Trump hasn’t uttered a negative word about Putin or the Confederacy. Instead, he defends both… but somehow Black Lives Matter are the ones who are unpatriotic?

So let’s get summarize this, shall we? President Trump’s 2020 message is to let COVID-19 run rampant and let the death count pile up while he pretends it doesn’t exist, he protects himself and his cronies from accountability, owns the Libs, and protects the legacy of the Confederacy.

The Trump Campaign appears to believe it’s 1968 and he can win on a mixture of George Wallace and Richard Nixon’s messaging. They’re wrong. This is not 1968. Trump’s COVID-19 failures are akin to Vietnam in the way it’s damaged the incumbency, but Trump is the incumbent who happens to be down by double digits in multiple polls. Also, opinions on racial justice have shifted dramatically, with the vast majority supporting the cause. Perhaps most important of all, former Vice President Joe Biden is not former Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week.

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NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace (Zach Catanzareti/Creative Commons) and President Donald Trump (AP).

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Day 1,265: Tuesday, July 7

Donald Trump attends a rally, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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Day 1,266: Wednesday, July 8

President Donald Trump looks at Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as he speaks during a meeting with parents and teachers, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump looks at Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as he speaks during a meeting with parents and teachers, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Wednesday’s top stories:

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Day 1,267: Thursday, July 9

Donald Trump stands with his kids before he speaks at a press conference at Trump Tower on January 11, 2017 in New York City (AP) and the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington. Jan. 25, 2012 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File).

Donald Trump stands with his kids before he speaks at a press conference at Trump Tower on January 11, 2017 in New York City (AP) and the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington. Jan. 25, 2012 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File).

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Day 1,268: Friday, July 10

Former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone walks out of the federal courthouse, in Richard Nixon’s signature pose, after being indicted a hearing, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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Unpresidented // Authoritarianism / Coronavirus / Donald Trump / Roger Stone