Analysis: Trump Chooses Distraction Policy Over Leadership

The reason why Trump does not wear a mask 0:37

(CNN) – President Donald Trump addressed the critical zone of Miami-Dade County, Florida on Friday, with the intention of creating an alternate reality as the coronavirus ravages the United States. He wore no mask, showed no remorse at the hasty reopening that has plunged the country’s health system back into chaos, and hardly mentioned the virus.

When he returned to the White House that night, Trump had commuted the sentence of his old friend Roger Stone, who had been asking for relief, arguing that the coronavirus would be a death sentence if he had to appear in prison (as scheduled for next week. ).

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By turning his head to justice, intervening on behalf of a former political adviser who was convicted of crimes that included lying to Congress in part, prosecutors say, to protect the president, Trump continued to turn a blind eye to the Americans for whom the coronavirus has actually been a death sentence.

At a time when his poll numbers are sinking, the president has refused to take a more leadership role in beating the virus. Instead, he appears to be caught in a cycle of anger and self-pity for minor issues that he believes are most important to his political fortune.

The reason why Trump does not wear a mask 0:37

The gulf between reality and the president’s deception was a great relief during his visit to Florida, where cases increased by 1,237% since the state reopened in early May. After landing in a county where the positive case rate reached 28% on Friday, Trump focused on issues that are far from the pressing concerns of most Americans, underscoring once again that he has no strategy to deal with the virus that has infected more than 3 million Americans.

The president visited the Southern Command to discuss drug trafficking prevention efforts and organized a round table with dissidents who denounced the communist and socialist regimes in Latin America, which sometimes sounded like a campaign show meant to praise the president and attack the former vice president Joe Biden and the Democrats.

The political pettiness of the day, which included more false tweets about mailed ballots linked to fraud, culminated in the fact that Stone escaped prison time.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany described Stone’s prosecution, arrest and trial as “unfair” in a statement Friday night, saying Stone was “a victim of Russia’s deception that the left and its media allies perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump presidency. ”

“Roger Stone has already suffered a lot. He was treated very unfairly, like many others in this case, “said McEnany. “Roger Stone is now a free man!”

Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence 2:20

Jeffrey Toobin, a former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst, called the president’s move “the most corrupt and buddy act in all of recent history.”

“Richard Nixon, in the Watergate crisis, never forgave or commuted the sentences of any of the people involved in Watergate. He thought he could never get away with it, “Toobin said Friday night on” Anderson Cooper 360. “

“But our standards have sunk so low that the president was able to rescue someone who was convicted of a crime that everyone who was convicted of that crime goes to prison,” Toobin said, adding that while Stone was sentenced to 40 months, “He will not purge time for the sole reason that he is a friend of the President.”

Biden cited the commutation of Stone’s sentence as evidence that the President has “abused his power,” alleging that Trump made the announcement Friday night “to avoid scrutiny while destroying the norms and values ​​that make our country to be a brilliant beacon for the rest of the world. “

“He will not be ashamed,” Biden said in a statement Friday night. “It will only be stopped when Americans make their voices heard at the polls this fall.”

Trump’s distraction policy

But three years after a presidency in which Trump has used many Friday nights to fire his perceived enemies or make moves he believes will help him politically, the commutation of Stone’s sentence came as a small surprise.

For months, as the pandemic erupted in the United States, Trump has been consumed with complaint politics, using Twitter and the events of his campaign to lash out at his opponents, while complaining to allies and friends about how badly he the press is treating you.

Trump publishes tweet about Goya 4:17

Now, in a critically endangered zone, four months before the election, while following Biden in critical states, the president shows no signs of correcting course but continues to be distracted from the devastating effects of the virus, which has so far killed to more than 133,000 Americans, while distorting the facts about the serious situation facing the country when facing the covid-19.

On Friday, the number of new cases of coronavirus in the US rose to 63,900, a new record for a single day according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

A new ABC News / Ipsos poll released on Friday showed that two-thirds of Americans (67%) now disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus response. That number increased even among Republicans: 78% of Republican voters approved of their coronavirus management compared to 90% in June. And amid a national calculation of race after George Floyd’s death, 67% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of race relations, a finding that held true across racial groups.

While many Americans are fearful of coronavirus cases and worried about the risks of sending their children to school, Trump this week threatened to withhold federal money from schools if officials don’t reopen them in the fall and reiterated his insistence that states need to reopen their economies as quickly as possible.

But a clear majority of Americans do not share that view. In the ABC / Ipsos poll, 59% of Americans said they believe the economy is reopening too quickly.

Trump does not seem to be listening. Instead, while the red states that elected him see an astonishing spike in cases, they are criticizing their known political enemies.

The prime example of that this week was Trump’s angry reaction to Supreme Court decisions about efforts to obtain his financial records, even though the immediate result was essentially a victory for him politically.

The Supreme Court ruled that House Democrats could not access Trump’s financial records, but ruled that the President is not immune from a subpoena for his financial documents from a New York prosecutor. The cases were sent back to the lower courts for further review, giving him a delay by making it unlikely that he would have to turn over those records before the November election.

Still, Trump tweeted: “The Supreme Court returns the case to the Lower Court, arguments to continue. This is all a political prosecution. I won the witch hunt for Mueller and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. It’s not fair to this presidency or administration! ” (His attorney, Jay Sekulow, by contrast, hailed the decisions as a victory.)

Trump will not have a chance to channel those complaints in the face of a multitude of friendly protests this weekend. His campaign postponed an election event on Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, due to the weather.

It would have been the first since Tulsa, Oklahoma, where crowds failed to meet expectations and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared to downplay the crowd’s expectations, suggesting that supporters could stay home during the pandemic because they already support Trump. , an implicit acceptance that even Trump supporters are concerned about his health.

Trump has repeatedly downplayed the danger of the virus, but perhaps no more so than last week when he falsely said that 99% of cases are harmless. Yet this weekend, in a surprising setback, and after weeks of pressure, Trump can do something publicly that his own public health advisers say is essential to reducing the spread: wearing a mask.

Trump has said he will wear one when visiting injured service members at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Saturday. It is a decision that came only after repeated pleas from advisers who urged the president to set an example for his followers, according to aides familiar with the deliberations.

“You’re in a hospital, I think it’s a very appropriate thing,” the president told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Thursday. “I have no problem with the mask.”

“If I’m with soldiers, people who, you know, don’t want to scatter anything,” Trump said.

“I hope he looks good in a mask,” he told Telemundo on Friday.

If he goes ahead, it will be a rare example of the president putting the common good before his own needs and vanity, a simple move that could help him change his current trajectory, which looks set for defeat in November.

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