A defiant President Donald Trump resumed public events Saturday with a divisive speech at the White House, where he potentially put lives at risk once again, just nine days after he revealed his own Covid-19 diagnosis.
After being sidelined from the campaign trail for more than a week, Trump leaned into his law-and-order message in a speech threaded with falsehoods that was clearly a campaign rally disguised as a White House event, which again featured scant social distancing.
Trump claimed that if the left gains power, they’ll launch a crusade against law enforcement. Echoing his highly inaccurate campaign ads that suggest that Democratic nominee Joe Biden would defund 911 operations and have a “therapist” answer calls about crime, Trump falsely claimed that the left is focused on taking away firearms, funds and authority from police.
Biden has not made any proposals that would affect the ability to answer 911 calls. As CNN’s Facts First has noted many times, Biden has repeatedly and explicitly opposed the idea of “defunding the police,” and he has proposed a $300 million increase in federal funding for community policing.
As at all of his campaign events, Trump’s law-and-order rhetoric applied only to his antipathy toward Democrats and the left. He made no mention of the growing power of right-wing hate and anti-government extremist groups, including those who were charged this week in an alleged plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and instigate a civil war. Attorney General William Barr, for all his focus on left-wing violence, hasn’t commented publicly on the arrests.
Whitmer had argued in a speech that Trump’s refusal to condemn White supremacists and hate groups during the recent presidential debate had only emboldened those groups. After the plot was made public, Trump excoriated Whitmer in a tweet for locking down the state as part of precautionary measures to protect Michiganders from the pandemic.
Saturday’s event was purportedly aimed at Black and Latino Americans, who, Trump argued, are benefiting from his agenda. Attendees included members of a group known as “BLEXIT” that was founded by conservative firebrand Candace Owens to encourage African Americans to leave the Democratic Party. His speech, however, seemed aimed at White suburbanites who are not sympathetic to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I don’t understand why the President would have an event focusing on minority communities, Black and Brown, and not mention what it’s all about,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn said on CNN’s “Newsroom,” noting how coronavirus has exacerbated health inequities. “It would seem to me that the President would be saying to them, ‘This is what my election will mean to the elimination of these disparities.’ He did not do that simply because he does not have the capacity to empathize with what these communities are experiencing in this particular pandemic,” the South Carolina Democrat added.
The ignorance of Trump inviting a group of Black and Latino Americans, who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, to an event at the White House at a time when he might still be contagious, was appalling to Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“The images we are seeing are absolutely extraordinary,” Faust said on CNN’s “Newsroom” as attendees on the South Lawn were closely packed together. “To literally draw (Black and Latino activists) into the White House, to a hot zone, is extraordinarily inept in terms of public policy and public health … If you believe nuclear power is safe, you don’t go and have a picnic at Chernobyl the next day to prove that point.”
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