The president’s messages about protesters and vandals have continued apace, often in the early hours of the morning or the late hours of the evening when he is not surrounded by aides, but sometimes in interviews and executive orders.
“We are tracking down the two Anarchists who threw paint on the magnificent George Washington Statue in Manhattan. We have them on tape. They will be prosecuted and face 10 years in Prison based on the Monuments and Statues Act,” Trump wrote Tuesday morning. “Turn yourselves in now!”
As the country convulses from incidents of police killings, mass protests and a rapidly-spreading pandemic that has led to double-digit unemployment, the president seems most intent on inflaming an already burning culture war, using his Twitter feed to focus on vandalism by protesters and the well being of statues that have been targeted.
Trump has rarely posted about coronavirus in recent weeks, skipping task force meetings and briefings. Police reform measures have not been at the top of his mind, with Republican allies saying he missed a chance to highlight Democrats scuttling a bill championed by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the lone black Senate Republican and one of only three in the Chamber. An economic recovery message being pushed by allies often seems to get less attention from the president.
Instead, in dozens of tweets and comments, he has advocated for harsher criminal penalties and long jail sentences for those tearing down statues, suggesting up to 10 years in prison. Some allies note it is hard to square how 10 years in prison for painting a statue squares with the criminal justice law he signed and often promotes. Protesters who burn the flag, he said, should get one year in jail.
Trump has called federal authorities privately to ensure damaged statues are fixed quickly, according to people familiar with his activities, after seeing them on Fox News. He threatened protesters ahead of his recent rally in Oklahoma with a “different scene” than in New York or Seattle.
Trump has repeatedly posted videos that highlight racial conflict, from a supporter on a golf cart shouting “White Power!” at cursing Trump protesters, to a video of two gun-wielding white residents in front of their mansion, pointing guns at a crowd of black demonstrators chanting and marching on the sidewalk. He recently highlighted a video of what appeared to be a white department store employee being assaulted by a black customer.
“Looks what’s going on here,” the president wrote. “Where are the protesters? Was this man arrested?”
The White House has similarly turned its attention to vandalism of statues, blaring in a recent email alert that Trump was “DEFENDING AMERICAN HISTORY FROM THE MOB.” The president has signed an executive order on “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence.”
In several Oval Office meetings, the president has argued that looters and rioters, which have…
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