A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 190th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

The Woodward tapes, CDC interference, & DHS intel scandal fit Trump's habit of distorting info about threats to Americans for political gain.
President Donald J. Trump answers questions from members of the press Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

President Donald J. Trump answers questions from members of the press Tuesday, April 7, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

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 190.

This week, we received concrete confirmation that Trump knew, Trump lied, and as a result, over 190,000 Americans have died. Trump’s own public actions were bad enough, and we already had reporting indicating he was briefed on the threat, but now we have his own words confirming that Trump knew exactly how deadly coronavirus was while he publicly downplayed it and refused to take action.

The Woodward tapes confirming Trump lied about coronavirus, the DHS whistleblower alleging Trump appointees sought to manipulate intel to help Trump, and the Politico report alleging Trump appointees sought to distort CDC reports are part of the same story: The Trump Administration’s corrupt suppression of info about threats to American lives for political gain. Let’s start with the Woodward tapes.

President Trump sat for 18 interviews with Bob Woodward as he was working on his book “Rage.” On Wednesday, we got our first glimpse of the content in those interviews, and provided one of the most damning revelations, if not the most, of the entire Trump presidency.

In an audio recording on February 7, President Trump told Woodward that coronavirus was airborne and 5 times more deadly than the flu. In the weeks that followed, President Trump would go on to compare coronavirus to the flu, hold indoor rallies, not take any action to ramp up testing, and downplay the threat publicly. At one of those rallies on February 28, President Trump told the crowd when referring to fears of coronavirus: “This [Coronavirus fears] is their [Democrats] new hoax.”

In audio from March 19, President Trump admitted to Woodward that he purposely downplayed coronavirus, saying: “I wanted to always play it down.” There were other revelations in the tapes, including Trump’s admiration of Kim Jong-un and Trump’s boasts about “saving” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But for the purpose of this piece, we’ll be focusing in on the coronavirus developments

I’ve seen takes from journalists and pundits openly speculating about whether the Woodward tapes “matter.” I understand the desire to wonder how this will affect the election, but first and foremost we need to establish the fact that no matter how the tapes are perceived, they DO matter.

This revelation is like if George W. Bush would have told Bob Woodward he knew Osama Bin Laden was about to launch the 9/11 attack, knew exactly how deadly it was going to be, and then went on to publicly downplay the threat and let it happen. Except in Trump’s case, the death toll is significantly higher.

Given the fact there were tapes, the White House couldn’t run with their usual “fake news” “anonymous sources” false excuses. After the revelations on Wednesday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was the first White House official to respond to the tapes.

Journalists did an amazing job hitting McEnany with all of the facts in the Woodward tapes but she responded with one of the most dishonest performances I’ve seen in the White House Press Briefing Room. McEnany said that Trump has never downplayed coronavirus in spite of the clear public evidence and self-admission from President Trump we heard on tape.

Then, it was President Trump’s turn to gaslight. In an event meant to focus on a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, which included sitting Republican Senators like Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, Trump was finally asked about the tapes. When asked, Trump essentially said that he lied to Americans in an effort not to induce panic. We all know the only panic Trump was concerned about preventing was the stock market. Trump didn’t take this seriously until the markets crashed.

We want a leader who levels with us. President Trump said he had to show calm and that’s why he misled Americans. There is a difference between showing calm and lying. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo showed calm and leveled with people in every briefing in spite of not closing down early enough. That garnered trust in his response to the pandemic.

President Trump’s excuse about wanting to instill calm and avoid panic flies in the face of the fact Trump’s messaging strategy is all about instilling fear and panic. Trump ran on the false premise that rapist Mexicans were swarming our borders in his 2016 campaign. Trump claimed a caravan of MS-13 was heading into America in 2018. Trump is currently claiming Black people and Antifa will invade your suburbs. Trump has spent his entire political career fear-mongering.

The cognitive dissonance-induced whiplash Trump’s base has to endure to simultaneously believe Trump lied about coronavirus to instill calm while at the same time fear-mongering about imaginary Black invaders of suburbs and Antifa coming for you, will require a neck brace. Trump is perfectly happy to incite panic about fake threats but consistently lies about real threats that he sees as politically inconvenient.

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On Wednesday night, President Trump repeated his excuse on Hannity, saying he didn’t want to panic people about COVID-19 and never wants to scare people. Hannity kept the propaganda coming, stating that Trump’s actions like the “China ban” prove he didn’t downplay the virus in spite of the fact he held rallies all throughout February and called fears about it a hoax. Also, Trump’s China “ban” was not a ban. Tens of thousands of people still traveled here.

On Thursday, President Trump faced one of the most straightforward questions of his presidency in the briefing room from ABC News’ Jonathan Karl: “Why did you lie to the American people…?” President Trump answered by doubling down on the lie that he’s just trying to avoid panic.

Trump then said Biden is willing to endanger the lives of people if he thinks it benefits him politically. That’s literally what Trump did by knowingly lying about how deadly coronavirus was in order to not spook the stock market. The projection is just mind-boggling. Trump went on to say that Bob Woodward should’ve alerted “the authorities” if he thought the audio was so bad. Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker reminded President Trump that Bob Woodward is not the president.

From Republican lawmakers, we saw the usual silence and deflections. Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) responded to questions about the tapes by repeatedly saying he’s not interested much in the book. So, he essentially said that the President misleading the American people about a virus that has killed over 190,000 people doesn’t interest him that much.

Then, we have the human element to this. Kristin Urquiza, who spoke at the DNC about her father dying from COVID-19 after listening to Trump downplay it, appeared on MSNBC. She said that the 200,000 families who lost loved ones were “punched in the gut and stabbed in the back” by the tapes confirming Trump knowingly downplayed COVID-19. This highlights the human toll of Trump’s lies.

There were millions of Americans who took Trump’s word for it that coronavirus was just like the flu, the fears were a hoax, and masks were unnecessary. Some of those people died because of that disinformation.

Speaking of disinformation, we have to talk about the Politico report that indicated HHS Spokesman Michael Caputo and HHS political appointee Paul Alexander repeatedly sought to distort CDC reports about coronavirus. One of the most disgusting parts of this Politico story is how many times Caputo and Alexander allegedly tried to alter the information about the risks coronavirus poses to children.

This report was a bombshell. It was yet another politically motivated effort on the part of the Trump Administration to suppress and interfere with information about the threats facing Americans. There is absolutely no low members of the Trump Administration aren’t willing to stoop to, and a new whistleblower has further confirmed that.

DHS whistleblower Brian Murphy is now alleging that Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli directed officials to change intelligence assessments based on Trump’s political rhetoric. Specifically, they wanted to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the US and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran.” Given the fact we know Russia is seeking to help Trump win re-election, this is incredibly corrupt.

They also allegedly ordered officials to downplay the terrorist threat of white supremacy and exaggerate the assessment of Antifa. This comes after last week, draft docs from DHS were leaked that highlighted the fact white supremacy is the greatest terrorist threat facing America, greater than all foreign terror threats. The draft docs had no mention of Antifa at all.

Any other president would be impeached and removed from office immediately over just these stories, especially if Trump directed Chad Wolf to interfere in the intelligence reporting. These are dangerous abuses of power that relate directly to matters of national security and protecting the lives of Americans. All these developments weren’t even public for a full 24 hours before we saw just how dangerous this conduct is.

This week, Microsoft informed the public that Russia is hacking both parties and China is targeting Biden. They don’t have any evidence that the hacks were successful but this is a consequential development nonetheless. The fact Microsoft told us this and not ODNI tells you everything you need to know about the Trump Admin’s suppression of intelligence.

In other corruption news, Attorney General William Barr continued to behave like President Trump’s personal attorney. After the White House reportedly requested it, the Department of Justice has agreed to take on E Jean Carroll defamation case. Donald Trump allegedly raped Carroll long before he was president but our taxpayer dollars are hard at work defending his personal conduct. It didn’t stop there. Federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy, who was working under US Attorney John Durham on his Russia probe, resigned reportedly due to pressure from Barr to get a report out before the election.

The bottom line is this: President Trump endangers national security for personal gain. Trump has proven that the ultimate check on presidential power is the character of the person wielding that power. Trump has no character, no morals, and no conscience, so he’s willing to do anything to maintain power. Ironclad character is a requirement for a good president. We need to keep this in mind as we approach November 3rd.

Let’s dive into yet another Unpresidented week.

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Unpresidented // Coronavirus / Donald Trump / Russian Interference / White Supremacy