Pandemic aside, 2020 was the year of Donald Trump’s farewell to the presidency of the United States. A long and painful goodbye, consummated in four days of an agonizing vote count and weeks of judicial threats in which the US saw the defeated president muddy the electoral process with all kinds of unfounded accusations of fraud.
While the results were giving an increasingly wide victory to Democrat Joe Biden – who would end up leading in 25 states and getting 306 electoral votes – Trump was rooting for his particular “alternative” vision of reality, calling into question the entire US electoral process.RELATED
The target was the vote by mail, reviled by the Republican throughout the electoral campaign, in an attempt to discredit him and create the right environment to later contest the results.
The fear of contagion by the coronavirus, which by election day had already left more than 230,000 dead in the US, caused more than 90 million citizens to request to vote by mail, to avoid long lines at the voting centers .
This contributed to the elections with the most participation in US history: 68% of citizens went to the polls, a record number. With more than 70 million votes, Joe Biden was the most voted candidate ever, far surpassing the numbers of Barack Obama in 2008.
The polls, which had been predicting a quiet election day and a comfortable victory for Biden for weeks, were wrong again. With very tight margins, it was soon realized that the election night would be long and that Americans would wake up on November 4 without knowing who the new president would be.
The worst scenario was confirmed that night: while Biden asked for peace and patience until the vote count was finished, Trump proclaimed himself the winner, firing a string of falsehoods and putting the entire electoral system in check.
The outgoing US president in a file image. Reuters
“This is a great fraud and we are going to appeal to the US Supreme Court. We want the vote counting to stop because we don’t want any more ballots to be drawn tonight, a vote to be found at 4:00. We are going to win the elections. Honestly, we’ve already won them, “he said in a baseless indictment.
They were weeks in which Donald Trump showed his worst version: clutching his Twitter account he saw how the social network was marking each of his messages about electoral fraud as “misleading”, while his lawyers deployed the legal artillery.
More than a month after the elections, Trump has lost each of his court battles and has seen the Electoral College ratify Biden’s victory but, to this day, he still does not acknowledge his defeat and without clearing the many doubts that still exist. on the transition of powers.
Fake news and pandemic
This episode is just one more of a mandate in which Trump has normalized insult and fake news. According to the Washington Post, which tracks the daily lies uttered by Trump since he took office, in August 2020, the outgoing president had made more than 22,200 false statements.
And not even the pandemic escaped his fake news strategy. While the United States took the lead in the countries with the most infections and deaths, the president dedicated himself to giving daily press conferences, where he provided false information about the virus and its treatments, supported drugs advised against by doctors (such as hydroxychloroquine) and He even proposed injecting citizens with disinfectant as a way to end the virus.
“The disinfectant kills the virus on surfaces in a minute, could we do something similar with an injection? Because the virus enters the lungs and causes tremendous damage, so I think it would be interesting to try it,” he said to the astonished look of one of his advisers.
Not even the fact that he had suffered from the disease was able to change his speech. After days in hospital, he left the hospital professing the same contempt for the mask, which he never used in his campaign activities, and mocking Joe Biden for using it. “Do not be afraid of the virus, do not let it dominate your life”, was the message he sent to citizens then.
Meanwhile, Covid cases skyrocketed to more than 16 million and deaths to more than 300,000.
Legal proceedings and social protests
Trump’s four years in the White House were fertile in controversy and legal litigation. His close relationship with the Kremlin has been at the base of one of the many legal proceedings he had to face. Prosecutor Robert Mueller investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, in favor of Trump and to the detriment of Hillary Clinton.
The prosecutor detailed numerous contacts between Trump campaign personnel and Russian agents, but did not find sufficient evidence to demonstrate the president’s involvement. Trump called the investigation a “witch hunt.”
What Mueller did not exonerate Trump from was a crime of obstruction of justice, by trying to impede the judicial investigation. However, the attorney general, William Barrat, appointed by the president, ended up acquitting him. Trump would then justify it by saying that a president is not indictable except through impeachment.
Trump, in the White House. Reuters
An impeachment that would eventually come, months later, via Ukraine, when it was revealed that Trump had pressured the Kiev government to carry out an investigation on Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, on allegations of unfounded corruption. For this Trump threatened to freeze the 391 million dollars in military aid already committed.
But once again, Trump would emerge unscathed from the entire process, after being acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate last February.
During his tenure, the US has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris pact on climate change and has frozen the thaw with Cuba. However, he failed to carry out one of his main electoral promises, the repeal of the 2010 health reform, known as Obamacare.
Nor has it been able to fulfill another of its star promises: the wall on the border with Mexico. However, it has managed to undermine the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, also promoting a policy of separating migrant children from their parents when crossing the border illegally. All this while continuing to label immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals.”
Also during his tenure, the US experienced a new social outbreak due to racial tensions that sparked the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. Protests against racism and police brutality took to the streets of the country after the death of George Floyd (who died of suffocation after a policeman knelt on his neck for eight minutes) and the Jakob Blake case, in which seven were shot by a police officer. times at point blank range.
At times the protests led to situations of violence and looting and Trump did not hesitate to have a strong hand with the protesters, whom he called “thugs”, promising to restore “law and order” and sending federal agents to control the protests. Not a word of solidarity with the victims, not a comment on the structural racism of the country.
“Winning is always easy, losing is not. Not for me”
However, urged to condemn with the same forcefulness the acts of violence of white supremacist groups that support him, such as the Proud Boys, his statement was: “Proud Boys, take a step back and remain prepared”, something that seems more a call to be alert than to stop violence.
Transition in the air
On January 20, Trump will officially cease to be the president of the United States. The terms on which the transition will be made are not yet clear and the outgoing president doesn’t seem too keen to make it easy for Joe Biden.
The Republican repeatedly refused to commit to accepting the results and a peaceful transition of power in the event of defeat. “I’m not just going to say yes. I didn’t do it last time either,” he noted. The day before the elections he again sowed doubts: “Winning is always easy, losing, no. Not for me,” he said.
Nor does it seem that Trump is going to move away from the media spotlight and limit himself to being one more citizen as happens with the vast majority of former presidents of the country. For starters, Trump has already dropped that in 2024 he intends to run again. The possibility of announcing it on the 20th, the day of the inauguration of Biden, has even advanced, a ceremony to which he threatens not to attend.
However, your future does not depend only on your will. Now that he loses his immunity as president, he is haunted by the court cases that he has been drawing during his tenure. He faces a series of legal, civil and criminal actions related to his family’s businesses and activities before taking office.
Of all the open court cases, the ones he is most concerned about are those handled by Cyrus Vance Jr. in Manhattan and Letitia Jones, the New York state attorney general. The prosecution suspects that he has committed bank fraud. As The New York Times has published, Trump has used abusive practices to stop paying taxes or pay the least possible. The Trump Corporation is suspected of keeping two parallel accounts. One exaggerates losses to minimize taxes and another exaggerates gains to obtain low-cost credit and insurance.
Cyrus Vance also investigates the payments with funds from his company to women so that they would not disclose their extramarital affairs just before the 2016 election. His lawyer, Michael Cohen, acknowledged having paid $ 130,000 to the former porn actress Stormy Daniels for her silence. Several other women are involved in these financial transactions.
Trump could also face criminal prosecution initiated by the United States Department of Justice on federal charges of income tax evasion. The New York Times recently reported that Trump paid $ 750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017.
On January 20, Trump leaves the White House and will become part of the list of the 10 US presidents who have not been able to renew their mandate. He reluctantly leaves power, protesting an election he lost in a fair and legal way and with his sights set on 2024. As an inheritance, he leaves a polarized and divided society, which will have to deal with the lack of confidence in the democratic system that the Trump himself fostered.