A Complete Analysis Of Trump’s 176th 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 176.
The footage on CNN was stunning. Peaceful protestors were face to face with military police in LaFayette Square outside of the White House. The Trump Administration had just deployed those troops in a clear escalation in tactics. It was 6:30 pm, 30 minutes before the curfew in Washington, DC. President Trump was about to speak in the Rose Garden. No one, not even Trump’s biggest critics, expected what was to come. What happened next was the most fascist moment of the Trump presidency and most disgraceful of any president in modern history.
Seemingly out of nowhere, military and DC police, some on horseback, began to advance on the peaceful protestors. Pepper bullets were shot, gas and flashbangs were thrown. One officer punched an Australian cameraman and swung his baton at another journalist. Other officers were seen pushing protestors, unprovoked.
As this was ongoing, a literal split-screen could be seen on news networks as President Trump took to the podium. Trump declared himself the “law and order” president, said he would “dominate the streets,” and threatened to deploy the military into states by using the Insurrection Act. Loud bangs could be heard in the background as peaceful protestors were being brutalized.
These were the images that President Trump wanted us to see – a brutal split screen of cruelty being unleashed on innocent protestors as a show of might. But far from strength, this showed weakness, fear, and paranoia-driven authoritarianism. Trump didn’t stop there. As his remarks began to wrap up, the protestors had been successfully cleared from outside the White House. Trump ominously said he was going to pay respects to a special place.
President Trump then walked off White House grounds with his cronies – including Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Press Secretary Kaleigh McEnany, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump. Trump then took photos, while holding a Bible, in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. It was later confirmed that the church had no advance warning and that clergymen were among those being cleared. Yes, Trump unleashed brutality on the American people for a photo op. This was a dark day in America.
Earlier that same day, President Trump berated governors for not “dominating” protestors, and Esper told them that the US would soon “dominate the battlespace.” What prompted this move was that Trump and his advisers, including Ivanka Trump, thought his church photo op would be a show of strength. Trump’s ego was so bruised by being mocked for hiding in a bunker the previous Friday, he brutalized people for a photo op. At that moment, Trump proved nothing is beyond him and his sycophantic officials proved they will aid his most dictatorial impulses.
President Trump’s paranoia and cowardice are making him behave in an even more brazenly authoritarian manner. Trump thinks this barbaric caveman-style of masculinity is “strength,” but it’s actually weakness, fear, and insecurity masquerading as toughness. Trump doubled down on this by sharing a letter from his former lawyer John Dowd which read: “The phony protesters near Lafayette park were not peaceful and are not real. They are terrorists.”
This depraved moment epitomized Trump’s presidency. It was American carnage, just like he promised. President Trump has gotten away with everything in his life and presidency, so his hubris led him to cross a line that was so un-American, it forced some Republicans and military leaders to speak out against him.
Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis has been largely silent since he resigned in protest of President Trump’s foreign policy. Not anymore. Mattis published an op-ed in The Atlantic calling Trump a threat to the Constitution and condemning his use of the military against the American people. Former Chief of Staff John Kelly said he agreed with his comments and defended Mattis against Trump’s tweets attacking the decorated general.
While the vast majority of the Republican Party was either silent or excused President Trump’s authoritarian display, GOP Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) agreed with Mattis as well. Romney had previously put his actions where his mouth is by voting to remove President Trump from office during his Senate impeachment trial. Former Secretary of Defense Collin Powell also condemned President Trump, calling him a liar, and endorsed Joe Biden for President. That made it a total of four former joint chiefs of staff that condemned Trump.
How does President Trump’s base keep rationalize everyone he comes into contact with eventually turning on him and calling out his con? Are Trump’s previously GOP-beloved former Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense now both “Washington” deep state operatives now?
In spite of this growing backlash, and President Trump’s poll numbers tanking, he continued to send out attacks on protestors. About 80% of Americans support this movement and Trump still stands on the wrong side of it. If you peacefully protest, Trump calls you an SOB, thug, or terrorist. Trump doesn’t want peace – he wants silence. Protestor shave responded with chants of “enough is enough” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Trump’s response to these protests overall has been depraved and predictable. It also showcases the delusional nature of Trump and those around him and their complete detachment from the reality of this moment. They’ve been drinking their own kool-aid for far too long.
Conservatives thought the left was being crazy when they made warnings about a Trump presidency. Over 3 years later and we have over 100,000 deaths from a global pandemic Trump failed to contain, an economic recession with over 40 million Americans out of work, and Trump essentially trying to declare martial law while there are racial justice protests in every state.
While this is ongoing, are Senate Republicans hard at work crafting new economic relief packages or racial justice legislation to quell the protests? No. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spent part of the week running a hearing on the Obamagate conspiracy theory with former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. MSNBC and CNN didn’t even air the hearing. I also didn’t do my usual play-by-play, fact-checking tweets of the hearing like I’ve done with most hearings in the past. I didn’t want to dignify this conspiracy theory BS with any coverage, especially not during all of these protests.
On top of that distraction, President Trump desperately clung onto May’s positive job report which showed 2.5 million jobs were gained. Trump held a mission accomplished style press conference in the Rose Garden while we still have the worst unemployment rate since 1940 at 13.3%. Trump spoke about the job numbers like there still aren’t tens of millions of people out of work and COVID-19 doesn’t exist. We have to keep in mind that the Paycheck Protection Program juiced these numbers. Also, enhanced unemployment benefits expire after July. We still need another stimulus bill and have a long road to recovery.
What made this even more ridiculous was that President Trump claimed the jobs numbers were a form of racial justice and that George Floyd would be happy with the report. Not only is that comment disgusting in its own right, the report itself indicated white unemployment decreased from 14.2% to 12.4% while black unemployment increased from 16.7% to 16.8%. So in fact, the racial income inequality gap is increasing.
After calling George Floyd protestors “THUGS,” unleashing brutality on peaceful protestors in DC, and sharing John Dowd’s letters calling those same peaceful protestors “terrorists,” President Trump claimed George Floyd would be happy with the jobs report that shows black unemployment rose.
Meanwhile, there were more outrageous examples of police brutality during these peaceful demonstrations. Police officers in Buffalo, NY shoved a 75-year-old man and caused him to hit his head so severely his ears bled and he was hospitalized with severe injury. Their first public excuse for this was that the man slipped and fell, but luckily there was footage. They later suspended the two officers.
This raised the key question about how many other violent police acts that weren’t caught on video were buried. You need to look no further than this Buffalo example and the Minneapolis Police Department’s initial excuse for killing George Floyd which was that he was resisting arrest. He wasn’t. It’s been made clear that far too many police officers have clearly been trained to protect and serve themselves while treating the American people like enemy combatants.
But amid all this, there was hope. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison officially announced crucial steps toward justice for George Floyd. Former officer Derek Chauvin’s charge was elevated to 2nd-degree murder. The other 3 officers—Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane—were charged with aiding and abetting murder. Meanwhile, the Minneapolis city council announced plans to completely revamp their police department. Also, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) announced that the Richmond statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee will be taken down.
This week, the George Floyd protests, while also honoring Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the countless others who have been killed, became one of the largest civil rights movements in history with global solidarity. Protests were still growing in every state as George Floyd’s memorial service gathered celebrities and civil rights leaders alike. Reverend Al Sharpton gave the speech of his lifetime, calling out systemic racism and for America to get its knee off Black America’s neck. There was also an inspirational moment from George Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd who visited Minneapolis. Terrence called for peace, saying violence will not bring his brother back. He also passionately called on us to vote at every level:
“Let’s do this another way. Let’s stop thinking that our voice don’t matter, and vote. Not just vote for the President… vote for everybody. Educate yourself.”
President Barack Obama echoed this sentiment and came through with his usual style of optimistic leadership we all need right now. Obama talked about how young people have risen to the moment and are showing true leadership. Obama also called on this energy to be translated into votes:
“So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both.“
As I wrote in last week’s Unpresidented, this movement has the opportunity to reshape America as we know it, and it starts with you. If you care about racial justice, and you’re somehow still undecided, look no further than these past couple weeks. Joe Biden met with protestors and called for change. President Trump unleashed brutality, denied the problem exists, and tweeted a letter calling protestors terrorists.
Who will listen to your community?
Let’s dive into another Unpresidented week.
Trump’s Disgusting Dictatorial Display
Day 1,229: Monday, June 1
Monday’s top stories:
What Trump just did is nothing short of fascist.
Trump gave a Rose Garden “law and order” speech while peaceful protestors were brutalized so he could do a church photo op.
His abuses of power know no bounds.
Every American should be outraged.pic.twitter.com/xekrm8FQ8o
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) June 1, 2020
- ABC News: Trump says he is mobilizing ‘heavily armed’ military to stop protests
- HuffPost: Anti-Racism Protesters Around The World Demand Justice For George Floyd
- The New York Times: Facing Protests Over Use of Force, Police Respond With More Force
- NBC News: At least 4,400 people arrested in protests nationwide
- NBC News: Some police step out to show support for George Floyd demonstrators
- The Daily Beast: LISTEN FOR YOURSELF: Trump’s ‘Unhinged’ Rant to Governors on Protests
- CNN: Independent autopsy and Minnesota officials say George Floyd’s death was homicide
- The Week: Defense secretary urges governors to call on National Guard and ‘dominate the battlespace’
- Business Insider: ‘That’s not going to bring my brother back’: Terrence Floyd calls for an end to looting and tells people to vote in a powerful speech
- Axios: Trump privately scolded, warned by allies over violent protest rhetoric
- CBS News: Biden vows to set up police oversight board if elected
- TheHill: Biden visits site of George Floyd protests in Wilmington
- CBS News: Trump briefly taken to White House bunker during protests Friday
- NBC News: Minnesota attorney general to take over prosecutions in George Floyd’s death
- NBC News: Minneapolis police made 44 people unconscious with neck restraints
- Mother Jones: West Point summoned cadets back for Trump’s graduation speech. Now several have the coronavirus.
- CNN: Massachusetts GOP governor rips Trump’s ‘bitterness, combativeness and self-interest’
- The New York Times: Facebook Employees Stage Virtual Walkout to Protest Trump Posts
Day 1,230: Tuesday, June 2
Tuesday’s top stories:
- Rantt Media: Resources And Actions You Can Take To Support The George Floyd Protests
- The Verge: Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and Amazon unite in support of Blackout Tuesday
- Politico: ‘Outraged’: Trump faces condemnation for clearing protesters, threatening military force
- USA TODAY: ‘I am outraged’: DC bishop denounces Trump’s church visit after police clear protesters with tear gas
- NPR: Governors Push Back On Trump’s Threat To Deploy Federal Troops To Quell Unrest
- ABC News: Coronavirus updates: US reports over 21,000 new cases amid mass protests
- NBC News: As Trump hits a new low, a dwindling number of Republicans speak up
- CNN: Attorney General Barr ordered authorities to clear protesters near White House, DOJ official says
- The Guardian: George Floyd killing: widespread curfews fail to stop fresh wave of protests across US
- BuzzFeed News: The DEA Has Just Been Authorized to Conduct Surveillance on Protesters
- The New York Times: Joe Biden Laces Into Trump for Fanning ‘Flames of Hate’
- NBC News: State of Minnesota files civil rights charge against Minneapolis Police Department
- Axios: McConnell blocks resolution condemning Trump’s actions against peaceful protesters
- Politico: G-7 members reject Trump’s bid to bring Russia in from the cold
- NPR: White House Coronavirus Testing Czar To Stand Down
- CNN: White supremacists pose as Antifa online, call for violence
- Politico: Twitter adds warning label to Gaetz tweet on antifa for glorifying violence
- Reuters: Confusion, missing ballots as eight U.S. states vote during coronavirus pandemic
- CNN: Six Atlanta Police officers are being charged after allegedly using excessive force at protest
- The Daily Beast: Medical Workers Fighting COVID Say Cops Are Attacking Them
- TheHill: Biden to attend George Floyd funeral, Floyd family attorney says
- Axios: Nadler announces DOJ whistleblower testimony on agency’s “politicization” under Trump
- CNN: 133 potential Covid-19 vaccines in the works worldwide
- CNBC: Civil rights leaders say they’re ‘disappointed and stunned’ after call with Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Sandberg
- TheHill: Two Facebook software engineers quit over Trump posts
Steps Towards Justice
Day 1,231: Wednesday, June 3
Wednesday’s top stories:
- CNN: All four former officers involved in George Floyd’s killing now face charges
- CNN: Protesters defy curfews but demonstrations across the US turn more peaceful
- The Atlantic: James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution
- The Atlantic: Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen Speaks Out Against Trump: I Cannot Remain Silent
- Politico: Esper, on thin ice with the White House, reverses decision on troop deployments
- CNBC: Former Defense official resigns from Pentagon post, slams Esper for role in Trump photo op
- Politico: ‘It just doesn’t seem right’: Pentagon officials on edge over military leaders’ dealings with Trump
- The New York Times: Trump Campaign Looks at Electoral Map and Doesn’t Like What It Sees
- NBC News: ‘No way I was staying home’: Trump’s response leads more protesters to White House
- AP: Virginia governor to announce removal of Lee statue
- NBC News: White House coronavirus task force fades further as fear of second wave emerges
- CBS News: Protests spark fears of new COVID surges
- The Washington Post: President Trump tried to register to vote in Florida using an out-of-state address
- Politico: Steve King ousted on historic primary night
- NPR: Millions Of Americans Skip Payments As Tidal Wave Of Defaults And Evictions Looms
- Bloomberg: Donors Rally to Biden in Wake of Trump’s Response to Protests
- NBC News: Trump says he’s yanking RNC from North Carolina over potential coronavirus restrictions
- Vox: Obama’s message to young people of color: “I want you to know that you matter”
- Business Insider: White House press secretary compares Trump’s photo-op outside St. John’s Church to Churchill’s bunker visits during WWII and Bush’s first pitch after 9/11
(Fact-check: ….Uh, nope.)
- Deadline: ‘Star Wars’ & Disney Call John Boyega A “Hero” For Powerful Black Lives Matter Speech In UK
- CBS News: Keke Palmer urges National Guard troops to march with protesters and “make history with us”
- Page Six: Drake, The Weeknd donate thousands to Black Lives Matter organizations
A Day Of Memorial And More GOP Trump Dissent
Day 1,232: Thursday, June 4
Thursday’s top stories:
- NBC News: George Floyd memorial: Loved ones say goodbye to man whose death ignited national conversation on racism
- Bloomberg: Trump’s Protest Crisis Deepens With Rebukes From Defense Chiefs
- Politico: ‘The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened’: John Kelly defends Mattis
- NBC News: ‘Stunning,’ ‘powerful,’ ‘overdue’: Romney, Murkowski praise Mattis’ stinging Trump rebuke
- HuffPost: William Barr’s Vast, Nameless Army Is Being Brought To Bear On D.C. Protesters
- The New York Times: Another Man Who Said ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Died in Custody. An Autopsy Calls It Homicide.
- SF Chronicle: SF resident was kneeling when fatally shot by Vallejo police during civil unrest
- HuffPost: Esper Reverses Course Again, Orders Troops Out Of D.C.
- AP FACT CHECK: Trump denies tear gas use despite evidence
- Newsweek: Biden leads Trump in key swing states of Arizona, Ohio and Wisconsin: Polls
- CNBC: Democrats plan to introduce police reform bill on Monday, Nancy Pelosi says
- CNN: Protesters, ACLU sue over use of force at White House ahead of Trump’s church visit
- Los Angels Times: As peaceful protests continue, LAPD budget could be cut by up to $150 million to reinvest in communities of color
- The Guardian: ‘Disastrous at a time like this’: the US Postal Service is on the brink of crisis
- NBC News: Adoption agency should be able to reject gay couples, Trump administration argues
- ProPublica: Tear Gas Is Way More Dangerous Than Police Let On — Especially During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- The Daily Beast: New York Times Staffers in Open Revolt Over Tom Cotton’s ‘Send in the Troops’ Column
- Rantt Media: Every Must-See Moment From The George Floyd Protests
- CNN: Video captures police officer in Florida kneeling on a black man’s neck during an arrest
- ProPublica: I Cover Cops as an Investigative Reporter. Here Are Five Ways You Can Start Holding Your Department Accountable.
Protests Show No Signs Of Slowing Down
Day 1,233: Friday, June 5
Friday’s top stories:
- NBC News: D.C. mayor has huge ‘Black Lives Matter’ name painted on street leading to White House
- The Washington Post: Live updates: Minneapolis votes to ban police chokeholds; protests continue into 11th day
- The New York Times: Trump Says Jobs Report Made It a ‘Great Day’ for George Floyd, Stepping on Message
- NBC News: Biden: ‘Despicable’ for Trump to put new last words in George Floyd’s mouth
- NPR: As The Nation Chants Her Name, Breonna Taylor’s Family Grieves A Life ‘Robbed’
- NBC News: People protesting the death of George Floyd hit the streets for 10th night
- The New York Times: Buffalo Police Officers Suspended After Shoving 75-Year-Old Protester
- The Guardian: New York state: 57 police resign to support officers fired for shoving 75-year-old
- CNN: Trump shares letter that calls peaceful protesters ‘terrorists’
- TheHill: Esper, Milley won’t testify before House panel on military response to protests
- The Washington Post: Senate confirms Trump nominee to lead agency overseeing VOA despite investigation
- Bloomberg: Trump to Pull 9,500 Troops From Germany Amid Continuing Tensions
- Global News: Justin Trudeau takes a knee at anti-Black racism protest in Ottawa
- Yahoo Sports: Roger Goodell: NFL admits ‘we were wrong’ on player protests, says ‘black lives matter’
- Politico: Zuckerberg says Facebook will revisit policies in wake of Trump backlash
- Rantt Media: What Will Trump Do If Loses His 2020 Re-Election Bid?
- NBC News: GOP Sen. Grassley holding up Trump nominations until he gets answers on IG firings
- Politico: Ex-Defense Secretary William Perry joins Mattis in condemning Trump
- The Washington Post: Analysis | The black-white economic divide is as wide as it was in 1968
- The Daily Beast: Biden Estimates That Around 10 to 15 Percent of Americans Are ‘Not Very Good People’
- Axios: Judge orders Tennessee to allow vote-by-mail for all registered voters