End Our National Crisis !

The New York Times

Opinion: End Our National Crisis !

Corruption – Anger – Chaos – Incompetence – Lies – Decay

The Case Against Donald Trump: 

Mr. Trump’s ruinous tenure already has gravely damaged the United States at home and around the world. He has abused the power of his office and denied the legitimacy of his political opponents, shattering the norms that have bound the nation together for generations. He has subsumed the public interest to the profitability of his business and political interests. He has shown a breathtaking disregard for the lives and liberties of Americans. He is a man unworthy of the office he holds.

The editorial board does not lightly indict a duly elected president. During Mr. Trump’s term, we have called out his racism and his xenophobia. We have critiqued his vandalism of the postwar consensus, a system of alliances and relationships around the globe that cost a great many lives to establish and maintain. We have, again and again, deplored his divisive rhetoric and his malicious attacks on fellow Americans. Yet when the Senate  refused to convict the president for obvious abuses of power and obstruction, we counseled his political opponents to focus their outrage on defeating him at the ballot box.

Nov. 3 can be a turning point. This is an election about the country’s future, and what path its citizens wish to choose.

The resilience of American democracy has been sorely tested by Mr. Trump’s first term. Four more years would be worse.

But even as Americans wait to vote in lines that stretch for blocks through their towns and cities, Mr. Trump is engaged in a full-throated assault on the integrity of that essential democratic process. Breaking with all of his modern predecessors, he has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, suggesting that his victory is the only legitimate outcome, and that if he does not win, he is ready to contest the judgment of the American people in the courts or even on the streets.

The enormity and variety of Mr. Trump’s misdeeds can feel overwhelming. Repetition has dulled the sense of outrage, and the accumulation of new outrages leaves little time to dwell on the particulars. This is the moment when Americans must recover that sense of outrage.

It is the purpose of this special section of the Sunday Review to remind readers why Mr. Trump is unfit to lead the nation. It includes a series of essays focused on the Trump administration’s rampant corruption, celebrations of violence, gross negligence with the public’s health and incompetent statecraft. A selection of iconic images highlights the president’s record on issues like climate, immigration, women’s rights and race.

The urgency of these essays speaks for itself. The repudiation of Mr. Trump is the first step in repairing the damage he has done. But even as we write these words, Mr. Trump is salting the field — and even if he loses, reconstruction will require many years and tears.

Mr. Trump stands without any real rivals as the worst American president in modern history. In 2016, his bitter account of the nation’s ailments struck a chord with many voters. But the lesson of the last four years is that he cannot solve the nation’s pressing problems because he is the nation’s most pressing problem.

He is a racist demagogue presiding over an increasingly diverse country; an isolationist in an interconnected world; a showman forever boasting about things he has never done, and promising to do things he never will.

He has shown no aptitude for building, but he has managed to do a great deal of damage. He is just the man for knocking things down.

As the world runs out of time to confront climate change, Mr. Trump has denied the need for action, abandoned international cooperation and attacked efforts to limit emissions.

He has mounted a cruel crackdown on both legal and illegal immigration without proposing a sensible policy for determining who should be allowed to come to the United States.

Obsessed with reversing the achievements of his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, he has sought to persuade both Congress and the courts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act without proposing any substitute policy to provide Americans with access to affordable health care. During the first three years of his administration, the number of Americans without health insurance increased by 2.3 million — a number that has surely grown again as millions of Americans have lost their jobs this year.

He campaigned as a champion of ordinary workers, but he has governed on behalf of the wealthy. He promised an increase in the federal minimum wage and fresh investment in infrastructure; he delivered a round of tax cuts that mostly benefited rich people. He has indiscriminately erased regulations, and answered the prayers of corporations by suspending enforcement of rules he could not easily erase. Under his leadership, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stopped trying to protect consumers and the Environmental Protection Agency has stopped trying to protect the environment.

He has strained longstanding alliances while embracing dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whom Mr. Trump treats with a degree of warmth and deference that defies explanation. He walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a strategic agreement among China’s neighbors intended to pressure China to conform to international standards. In its place, Mr. Trump has conducted a tit-for-tat trade war, imposing billions of dollars in tariffs — taxes that are actually paid by Americans — without extracting significant concessions from China.

Mr. Trump’s inadequacies as a leader have been on particularly painful display during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of working to save lives, Mr. Trump has treated the pandemic as a public relations problem. He lied about the danger, challenged the expertise of public health officials and resisted the implementation of necessary precautions; he is still trying to force the resumption of economic activity without bringing the virus under control.

As the economy pancaked, he signed an initial round of aid for Americans who lost their jobs. Then the stock market rebounded and, even though millions remained out of work, Mr. Trump lost interest in their plight.

In September, he declared that the virus “affects virtually nobody” the day before the death toll from the disease in the United States topped 200,000.

Nine days later, Mr. Trump fell ill.

The foundations of American civil society were crumbling before Mr. Trump rode down the escalator of Trump Tower in June 2015 to announce his presidential campaign. But he has intensified the worst tendencies in American politics: Under his leadership, the nation has grown more polarized, more paranoid and meaner.

He has pitted Americans against each other, mastering new broadcast media like Twitter and Facebook to rally his supporters around a virtual bonfire of grievances and to flood the public square with lies, disinformation and propaganda. He is relentless in his denigration of opponents and reluctant to condemn violence by those he regards as allies. At the first presidential debate in September, Mr. Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists. He responded by instructing one violent gang, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by.”

He has undermined faith in government as a vehicle for mediating differences and arriving at compromises. He demands absolute loyalty from government officials, without regard to the public interest. He is openly contemptuous of expertise.

And he has mounted an assault on the rule of law, wielding his authority as an instrument to secure his own power and to punish political opponents. In June, his administration tear-gassed and cleared peaceful protesters from a street in front of the White House so Mr. Trump could pose with a book he does not read in front of a church he does not attend.

The full scope of his misconduct may take decades to come to light. But what is already known is sufficiently shocking:

He has resisted lawful oversight by the other branches of the federal government. The administration routinely defies court orders, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly directed administration officials not to testify before Congress or to provide documents, notably including Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

With the help of Attorney General William Barr, he has shielded loyal aides from justice. In May, the Justice Department said it would drop the prosecution of Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn even though Mr. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. In July, Mr. Trump commuted the sentence of another former aide, Roger Stone, who was convicted of obstructing a federal investigation of Mr. Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, rightly condemned the commutation as an act of “unprecedented, historic corruption.”

Last year, Mr. Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation of his main political rival, Joe Biden, and then directed administration officials to obstruct a congressional inquiry of his actions. In December 2019, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Mr. Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors. But Senate Republicans, excepting Mr. Romney, voted to acquit the president, ignoring Mr. Trump’s corruption to press ahead with the project of filling the benches of the federal judiciary with young, conservative lawyers as a firewall against majority rule.

Now, with other Republican leaders, Mr. Trump is mounting an aggressive campaign to reduce the number of Americans who vote and the number of ballots that are counted.

The president, who has long spread baseless charges of widespread voter fraud, has intensified his rhetorical attacks in recent months, especially on ballots submitted by mail. “The Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED,” he tweeted. The president himself has voted by mail, and there is no evidence to support his claims. But the disinformation campaign serves as a rationale for purging voter rolls, closing polling places, tossing absentee ballots and otherwise impeding Americans from exercising the right to vote.

It is an intolerable assault on the very foundations of the American experiment in government by the people.

Other modern presidents have behaved illegally or made catastrophic decisions. Richard Nixon used the power of the state against his political opponents. Ronald Reagan ignored the spread of AIDS. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying and obstruction of justice. George W. Bush took the nation to war under false pretenses.

Mr. Trump has outstripped decades of presidential wrongdoing in a single term.

Frederick Douglass lamented during another of the nation’s dark hours, the presidency of Andrew Johnson, “We ought to have our government so shaped that even when in the hands of a bad man, we shall be safe.” But that is not the nature of our democracy. The implicit optimism of American democracy is that the health of the Republic rests on the judgment of the electorate and the integrity of those voters choose.

Mr. Trump is a man of no integrity. He has repeatedly violated his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Now, in this moment of peril, it falls to the American people — even those who would prefer a Republican president — to preserve, protect and defend the United States by voting.

Opinion: The Self-Dealing Administration

This article is part of a special Sunday Review: End Our National Crisis.


By Michelle Cottle        October 16, 2020

Devin Oktar Yalkin for The New York Times.


For anyone attempting to understand Donald Trump’s presidency — to really grasp its essence — the place to look isn’t the White House or the federal agencies or even the Supreme Court, with its expanded conservative majority. The lurid heart of Trumpist Washington lies within the grand, Romanesque-revival building at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street, Northwest: the Trump International Hotel.

Built at the close of the 19th century, the structure originally served as the city’s main post office, a towering tribute to public service. Under Mr. Trump, it now stands as both a monument to and a tool for advancing the endless spectacle of self-dealing and corruption that has come to define this president, his family and much of his administration.

On any given day, a glut of lobbyists, lawmakers, foreign agents and other favor-seekers come through the Trump International, schmoozing with administration bigwigs — on occasion the president himself — and spending gobs of cash. This ritual not only strokes the president’s ego — What a swank place you have here, sir! — it enriches his family business, ownership of which Mr. Trump has refused to divest himself.

We aren’t talking about a few overpriced martinis or breakfast meetings but, rather, some serious, high-dollar hobnobbing. In the six months ending in March 2017, the government of Saudi Arabia spent at least $270,000 at the hotel. The National Shooting Sports Foundation dropped at least $62,000 there in 2018, according to a Times report last weekend, which also noted that the National Automobile Dealers Association has used it as a base for meetings with policymakers, spending close to $80,000. Groups hosting posh events there range from the Philippine Embassy to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to the FLC Group, a Vietnamese conglomerate. (Those who responded to The Time’s inquiries denied inappropriate motives.)

The appearance of impropriety is not confined to the family’s Washington hotel. From Scotland to New Jersey to Florida and beyond, Trump properties have raked in tens of millions of dollars from those seeking to curry favor with, or at least express their appreciation for, the president.

“An investigation by The Times found over 200 companies, special-interest groups and foreign governments that patronized Mr. Trump’s properties while reaping benefits from him and his administration,” the paper reported, concluding that the president has “built a system of direct presidential influence-peddling unrivaled in modern American politics.”

Some of Mr. Trump’s more egregious self-enrichment projects have failed. Most notably, his plan to host this year’s Group of 7 meeting at the Trump National Doral resort near Miami met with so much political blowback that he quickly abandoned the idea. But at this stage, his clan’s routine self-dealing barely raises an eyebrow.

The president’s campaign contributors, large and small, also do their share to support the first family. This cycle, Trump businesses have received more than $4 million from the president’s campaign-related committees and the Republican Party, according to the latest numbers from the Center for Responsive Politics. This includes $380,000 that the campaign spent on a “donor retreat” at Mar-a Lago. The campaign also has been paying around $37,000 a month for space in Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Even Americans who don’t support Mr. Trump are filling his coffers. Each time the president, a family member or certain top administration officials visit a Trump property, taxpayers foot the bill for the security details that must tag along.

On a 2019 trip to Ireland, Vice President Mike Pence stayed at a Trump resort located on the far side of the country from where his official meetings were being held. (In addition to whatever taxpayers spent on lodging, the additional ground transportation cost nearly $600,000.)

The Washington Post has estimated that the U.S. government had paid well over $1 million to the president’s company since he took office in costs associated with the Secret Service. This includes at least 530 nights at Mar-a-Lago and 950 nights at the president’s club in Bedminster, N.J.

Taxpayers are also footing part of the bill for business trips by the Trump kids. In January 2017, Eric Trump jetted down to Uruguay to check on one of the Trump Organization’s condo projects, costing Americans around $98,000 in hotel rooms for the Secret Service and embassy staff members. Two trips the following month, one by Eric to the Dominican Republic and one by Eric and Don Jr. to Dubai, ran taxpayers nearly $250,000 for Secret Service expenses such as airfare, lodging and ground transportation.

In May of 2018, China awarded Mr. Trump’s golden child, Ivanka, seven trademarks for her now-defunct lifestyle brand, right around the same time her father was pledging to save a major Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE, from going belly up. Ivanka’s office said there was no special treatment involved.

What’s good for the Trump family is, apparently, also good for the family of Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, and their business interests. In May 2017, Mr. Kushner’s sister played up her brother’s position as senior adviser to the president when pitching some of Kushner Companies’ real estate developments to prospective Chinese investors through a federal program that provides fast-track visas to wealthy foreign investors. The project “means a lot to me and my entire family,” she told them. The company denied any impropriety.

Also in 2017, both Citigroup and Apollo Global Management, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, made large loans to Kushner Companies after White House meetings between Mr. Kushner and top executives from those firms. The involved parties insisted that the loans had nothing to do with Mr. Kushner’s position — that, in fact, his family’s business had not even come up in the discussions. The $184 million loan from Apollo came through in November. The next month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission dropped an investigation into Apollo. While there was no indication that the two episodes were related, the timing was a tad unseemly.

Foreign entities know a soft target when they see one. In early 2018, The Washington Post reported that officials in at least four countries — China, Israel, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates — “have privately discussed ways they can manipulate” Mr. Kushner “by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience,” according to U.S. officials familiar with the related intelligence reports.

In politics, as in life, the fish rots from the head. And many members of the administration seem to have embraced the first family’s ethical flexibility. Among the top officials to depart under allegations of self-dealing or other misuse of taxpayer money were the secretary of the interior, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the secretary of health and human services and the secretary of veterans affairs. Impressively, Wilbur Ross remains the commerce secretary, despite reports of multiple sketchy financial dealings.

Forget Abraham Lincoln’s Team of Rivals. Mr. Trump will be remembered for assembling a world-class Team of Grifters.

The Trump campaign world presents its own opportunities for self-enrichment. Before being ousted as campaign manager this summer, Brad Parscale had been facing scrutiny both for the campaign’s profligate spending and for the lavish lifestyle he had adopted since joining Team Trump. Following Mr. Parscale’s demotion, the campaign began an audit of spending during his tenure, according to Business Insider. (The campaign has denied that Mr. Parscale is being targeted by the review.)

Mr. Parscale features prominently in recent allegations that the Trump re-election effort has been violating campaign finance laws. In late July, a nonpartisan watchdog group, the Campaign Legal Center, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the campaign and a related fund-raising committee of masking $170 million in spending to vendors and Trump family members by funneling the payments through companies run by Mr. Parscale and others formed by the campaign’s lawyers. Among the outlays in question are fat salaries for Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, and Don Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle. The campaign has denied any wrongdoing.

But I bet you could have guessed that by now.

With so much grift and graft and self-enrichment swirling about, it’s amusing — and yet horrifying — to recall that Mr. Trump ran in 2016 as a tough, independent outsider who would bring in the “best people” to help him clean up political corruption. Today, as election night looms, the president’s campaign has reportedly booked the Trump International Hotel in D.C. for a victory party. Rooms sold out months ago.

Forget draining the swamp; the president slapped his name on it and began charging admission.


Opinion: When Science is Pushed Aside

This article is part of a special Sunday Review: End Our National Crisis.

By Jeneen Interlandi       October 16, 2020

Lynsey Addario for The New York Times.


From his first days in office, President Trump has waged a relentless and cynical campaign against the institutions most responsible for turning science into sound policy.

These institutions — the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency — are as essential to democracy as any high court or legislative body. They have set standards that the rest of the world still aspires to, for safe food and medicine, for clean air and water and, until recently, for effective disease control. At their best, they stand as a bulwark against the apathy that can attend such difficult problems and as a beacon for human society’s highest ideals: intelligence, discernment and moral action in the face of grave threats.

In the past four years, however, they have been imperiled like never before by a president who places no value on science. Or data. Or facts. Or truth.

He’s a president who muzzles credible scientists and amplifies charlatans. One who suggested on live television that UV light and bleach injections might cure people of the coronavirus. One who has refused to promote or consistently wear face masks, even as the virus has spread through his inner circle and assaulted his immune system. He’s a president who has lied, again and again, about the severity of threats the country is now facing — be they from climate change or the pandemic — even as reams of evidence make those threats plain.

Mr. Trump’s disdain for science is so terrifying that two of the nation’s oldest scientific publications — Scientific American and the New England Journal of Medicine — have waded into the morass of electoral politics for the first time in their more-than-100-year histories. The Journal implored voters to fire the president come November, while Scientific American went a step further and endorsed Joe Biden. “The evidence and science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people — because he rejects evidence and science,” the editors there wrote.

That rejection began at the Environmental Protection Agency, where Mr. Trump appointed an administrator whose greatest ambition had been to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. After a string of scandals, Mr. Trump replaced him with a former coal industry lobbyist. The agency has effectively prohibited any study involving human participants and any scientist who receives federal grants from informing its environmental policies. It has deliberately downplayed climate change, going so far as to purge the term from its website. It has also weakened or dismantled scores of environmental protections, including curbs on greenhouse gas emissions, rules meant to keep toxic chemicals in check and protections for national wetlands and wildlife.

The Trump administration has billed each of these rollbacks as a win for the economy — a tired argument that’s easily debunked, in some cases by the government’s own research. The E.P.A.’s own lies have been even more brazen. A spokeswoman recently told The Times that by undoing so many environmental protections the agency was returning to its “core mission,” which is to protect the environment.

The story has been similar at the F.D.A., where officials have repeatedly appeared to bend to the president’s will, for instance by authorizing unproven coronavirus treatments that he champions but that scientists advise against. The first of those authorizations — for the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine — was rescinded after the treatment was linked to potentially deadly side effects in Covid-19 patients. The second — for convalescent plasma — triggered a crisis of confidence in the F.D.A., when its commissioner, Dr. Stephen Hahn, grossly overstated the treatment’s potential in public remarks that he was then forced to walk back.

That spectacle has left both scientists and ordinary citizens deeply anxious about the coming coronavirus vaccines. The president has all but promised one before Election Day; scientists insist that such a timeline cannot possibly be met without compromising safety. The F.D.A. recently tried to assure the public that it will come down unequivocally on the side of safety. But in early October Mr. Trump dismissed the agency’s newly tightened vaccine standards as a “political hit job” and indicated that he would somehow overrule officials there.

The most shameful of all Mr. Trump’s meddling has been at the C.D.C., an agency designed to confront exactly the kind of pandemic America is now facing. Political appointees have prevented scientists at the agency from publishing a range of crucial guidelines and edicts meant to shepherd the nation through the pandemic. As a result, decisions across the country about school openings and closings, testing and mask-wearing have been muddy and confused, too often determined by political calculus instead of evidence.

The C.D.C.’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield, has repeatedly walked back statements that counter the president’s own sunny assessment of the pandemic. Other scientists at the agency have been muzzled altogether — holding few news conferences and giving almost no talks or interviews in the nine months since the coronavirus first reached American shores. Morale at the agency has reached a low point, with many career civil servants there telling The Times that they might resign if Mr. Trump wins re-election, and others speculating that the C.D.C.’s ability to function at all, in this pandemic or the next, is in serious jeopardy.

The most immediate impacts of these machinations are plain to see. Pollution is up, fines for polluters are down, carbon emissions have risen and are poised to rise further. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, and millions of livelihoods destroyed, by a pandemic that could have been contained. The nation’s standing in the wider world, and public trust here at home, have been eroded almost beyond recognition.

The longer-term impacts will be equally dire. Consider a future in which the empirical truths ferreted out by doctors, scientists and engineers no longer have currency because there is no one left to act on them. Real medicine and snake oil are sold on the same shelf, with no good way to tell the two apart. Vaccines are developed, but even the most pro-science families don’t trust them enough to make use of them. We resign ourselves to the lead in our water, the pesticides in our food and the toxins in our baby bottles because we know that no one will resolve these crises in our favor. Lies and shrugs become the official response to any disease that threatens us.

Some of these things are already beginning to happen. Agencies that use science to protect human health have long been plagued by a lack of funding and too much political interference. But a world in which these agencies become fully ornamental would be dangerously different than the world we currently inhabit.

It’s hard to say what chance science or civics have against so foolish and self-serving a commander in chief. But for now, at least, there is still cause for hope. Earlier this month, the F.D.A. updated its criteria for emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine, against Mr. Trump’s stated wishes. After a brief standoff, the administration quietly backed off its opposition to the new guidelines, which should make it all but impossible for the president to rush a product through in the next few weeks.

Career civil servants at the C.D.C., the E.P.A. and elsewhere are engaged in similar battles to preserve these institutions and the embers of what they stand for. Anyone who wants to ensure that Americans’ food and medicine nourish rather than poisons them, or who worries about the relentless march of climate change, or who hopes that the next deadly disease outbreak will be prevented from morphing into a global pandemic, should root for those civil servants to succeed — and vote accordingly.

The Radicalizer in Chief


This article is part of a special Sunday Review: End Our National Crisis.

Christopher Lee for The New York Times

By Jesse Wegnan                              Oct. 16, 2020      

Mr. Wegman is a member of the editorial board.          

This month, federal and state authorities arrested 13 Michigan men on terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges. Six of the men are alleged to have been plotting to kidnap the state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, with whom they were furious for imposing shutdowns, as most other governors did, in the early weeks of the pandemic.

Ms. Whitmer’s actions most likely saved thousands of lives. The arrested men, along with hundreds of other anti-shutdown protesters who swarmed the State Capitol in Lansing, considered her a tyrant.

As the protests grew in April, President Trump could have supported a governor navigating a tough situation and reminded Americans about the importance of stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, he tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” — a message that has to date received nearly 200,000 likes and almost 39,000 retweets. He tweeted the same of other states with Democratic governors and said the Second Amendment was “under siege.” It was as though Mr. Trump saw himself as another anti-government insurgent.

The message seems to have come through loud and clear. Protesters became bolder, and some marched into the Michigan statehouse brandishing semiautomatic rifles and long guns, forcing a shutdown of the State Legislature. Many political leaders rightly condemned the armed display. Mr. Trump defended the protesters. “These are very good people, but they are angry,” he wrote on Twitter.

As Ms. Whitmer said after this month’s arrests: “Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry. As a call to action. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight. When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions, and they are complicit. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit.”

Even after the arrests and charges, Mr. Trump has refused to rebuke violent agitators. Instead, he keeps feeding the fire. Speaking on Fox Business on Thursday, he said of Ms. Whitmer: “She wants to be a dictator in Michigan. And the people can’t stand her.”

A president’s words are among his most powerful, and potentially dangerous, tools. They can rally the American public to work together toward a common cause. They can soothe the jangled nerves of a frightened nation, or provide a healing balm at a time of mourning. They can move global financial markets, start wars — and embolden violent individuals.

From the start of his campaign for president in 2015, Mr. Trump has gleefully upturned every expectation Americans had about how their presidents speak. He revels in crude insults, trivial gripes and constant mockery of those who disagree with him.

This is harmful on many levels. “The president isn’t just the chief of the executive branch, but the head of state,” said Ian Bassin, who worked in the White House Counsel’s Office during the Obama administration and now runs the nonprofit group Protect Democracy. “That means part of what the presidency is about is norm-setting. When a president establishes that it’s OK to make fun of people with disabilities, or to be racist, or to lie, or to assault women, you see that replicated in society. That’s not a surprise.”

Mr. Trump doesn’t just mock his enemies. He demonizes and dehumanizes them. His attacks have resulted in his targets — whether a lawmaker like Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a television personality like the former Fox News anchor Megan Kelly, a government scientist like Dr. Anthony Fauci, or a regular American citizen — getting swamped with death threats, and in some cases requiring personal protection.

The violent rhetoric, and its consequences, began almost as soon as Mr. Trump’s campaign for the White House did.

In August 2015, barely two months after Mr. Trump announced his presidential bid by accusing Mexican immigrants of being “rapists,” two Boston men beat a homeless man with a metal pipe and then urinated on him. “Donald Trump was right,” one of the men said, according to the police. “All these illegals need to be deported.”

Mr. Trump tweeted out a condemnation of the attack, calling it “terrible” and saying, “I would never condone violence.” But repeatedly on the campaign trail, he did just that.

At a February 2016 campaign rally, he told his supporters: “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Just knock the hell out of them. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”

A few weeks later he said of one protester, “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”

At another rally, a protester being escorted out by the police was sucker-punched. Mr. Trump called the attack “very, very appropriate” and the kind of action “we need a little bit more of.”

In August 2016, he warned that if Hillary Clinton was elected, she would appoint Supreme Court justices who would rule in favor of gun control laws. “Nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, before adding, “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

This language was dangerous enough coming from a candidate. With Mr. Trump’s ascension to the most powerful job in the country, the stakes got only higher, and his reach broader.

A few months after his inauguration, he told a gathering of police officers that they should rough up the people they arrest. “Please don’t be too nice,” Mr. Trump said, to laughter and cheers.

When a Republican representative from Montana physically assaulted a reporter who had asked a question, Mr. Trump praised the lawmaker. “Any guy that can do a body-slam,” Mr. Trump said, “he’s my guy.”

In May, Mr. Trump responded to protests against police brutality by saying, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” When the shooting did start, he defended one person accused of gunfire: a 17-year-old boy who drove 20 miles to a Wisconsin protest armed with a semiautomatic rifle, which he allegedly used to shoot three people, killing two of them. It was self-defense, Mr. Trump suggested days after the teenager was charged with murder.

At the presidential debate last month, Mr. Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists without equivocation. He would not. Instead, he instructed the violent right-wing group the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

Mr. Trump and his defenders regularly claim that he is being misunderstood and say that he has condemned violence and white supremacy more than any president in history. The president is asked to condemn violence so often because violence is so often committed in his name. The Proud Boys, for one, did not take his words as a condemnation. “I think he was saying I appreciate you and appreciate your support,” the group’s founder said after the debate.

Trump supporters are not the only people who commit acts of political violence. But Mr. Trump has been invoked in dozens of acts of violence, threats of violence or allegations of assault, according to a review of five years of criminal cases by ABC News.

The victims of some of the worst attacks have been from the minority groups that Mr. Trump so often targets with his words. In addition to the 2015 attack on the homeless man in Boston, there was the terror campaign involving more than a dozen pipe bombs sent to prominent journalists and critics of Mr. Trump by a Trump supporter. There was the massacre in an El Paso Walmart that left 23 dead; minutes before the attack, the 21-year-old suspect said he was doing it as a response to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” And there was the slaughter of 51 people during prayer in two New Zealand mosques by a right-wing zealot who said he saw Mr. Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

In 2017, a federal judge in Kentucky ruled that Mr. Trump could be sued by protesters who had been assaulted at a 2016 rally where he had said, “Get ’em out of here!” That statement was “an order, an instruction, a command,” the judge said, and the protesters’ injuries were “a direct and proximate result” of Mr. Trump’s words. The case was dismissed on appeal, but the judge was right: Mr. Trump’s supporters know that his first response is the truest expression of his beliefs, and Mr. Trump, for all his dissembling, knows exactly what he is saying.

This harm won’t end with Mr. Trump’s presidency. His toxic rhetoric has filtered down to elementary and secondary schools around the country, where children have been repeating the president’s most vile language for the past five years. In hundreds of cases, children have reported being mocked, harassed or attacked for being Hispanic, Black or Muslim, according to a survey by The Washington Post. Many of the incidents have made reference to Mr. Trump’s border wall, including one case last year in which a 13-year-old New Jersey boy told a Mexican-American classmate that “all Mexicans should go back behind the wall.” Soon after, the 13-year-old assaulted the boy and knocked his mother unconscious.

“It’s gotten way worse since Trump got elected,” said Ashanty Bonilla, a Mexican-American high school student who endured so much ridicule from classmates that she changed schools. “They hear it. They think it’s OK. The president says it. … Why can’t they?”

More from the Series: End Our National Crisis

Why They Loved Him !

Farah Stockman      October 16, 2020
This article is part of a special Sunday Review: End Our National Crisis.
Opinion | Why They Loved Him
The president tricked working-class voters. But the problems he railed about are real.         nytimes.com


The Foreign Policy That Wasn’t

This article is part of a special Sunday Review: End Our National Crisis.

Author: John Hanno

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Bogan High School. Worked in Alaska after the earthquake. Joined U.S. Army at 17. Sergeant, B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 84th Artillery, 7th Army. Member of 12 different unions, including 4 different locals of the I.B.E.W. Worked for fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies as an industrial electrician, electrical/electronic technician.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *