Three Years of Mayhem
Thinking he would lose and in order to save money, Donald Trump hired a small hotel ballroom for the Republican reception on the night of the 2016 election, so when he and his family emerged at 2.50am even the stage looked crowded. Trump’s entourage seemed genuinely shocked by the result. There were tears backstage. Right to the last moment, no-one had expected him to win.
For the next few weeks there were calls for electoral college officers to change their vote, so dreaded was the prospect of a Trump presidency. There was little real prospect of that happening – on 19th December 2016, Trump was formally declared president.
During Trump’s brief and subdued election night speech, the new president said it was ‘time for us to come together as one united people’, but what we have instead is an unprecedented and unbroken period of abject political mayhem in the United States. We’re three quarters of the way through a presidency like no other in American history, and next year is shaping up to be even more fever pitched.
Just in case you’ve forgotten, here is just a smattering of the insanity to which we have become accustomed…
Trump University paid $25 million to settle a fraud lawsuit after the ‘university’ was found to be no such thing. Trump contested the result of the election he had won, claiming without evidence ‘I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally’. His spokesman Sean Spicer claimed Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest in history, ‘period’. When questioned about this claim, Kellyanne Conway said Spicer had access to ‘alternative facts’.
Trump tried to implement a travel ban stopping all visitors from seven majority-Muslim countries. He suggested shooting immigrants in the legs as they crossed the border. Despite Trump saying the wall is being built, not one new mile has been constructed and Mexico isn’t paying for it. Trump said he wanted a moat along the wall, filled with snakes or alligators.
When a hurricane approached the nation’s south, Trump suggested trying to stop its progress by dropping a nuclear bomb on it. He voiced the idea that America might buy Greenland, then cancelled a visit to Denmark when told it wasn’t for sale.
Trump pushed the Prime Minister of Montenegro out of the way so he could stand at the front for a picture at a NATO summit. He called neo-nazis ‘very fine people’. He caused the longest government shutdown in history. He said certain brown-skinned countries were ‘shitholes’. He adjusted a map showing a hurricane path projection with a sharpie.
Trump tweeted ‘despite the constant negative press covfefe’ and when pressed on the matter Sean Spicer said the president knew ‘exactly what he meant’. Trump said that windmills give you cancer. He brought the Russian ambassador to the Oval Office, shared highly confidential state secrets with him and only allowed a Russian photographer to take a photo. He refused to divest his assets or put them in a blind trust. Suddenly visiting dignitaries all started staying at the Trump Washington hotel.
Trump has worked tirelessly to remove around 21 million Americans health cover and provided no evidence of a plan to provide an alternative.
Trump has disparaged his intelligence agencies and taken the word of Vladimir Putin over his own people. He has recently had his Justice Department commence a criminal investigation of the investigators. When discussing how the probes started, Trump said ‘oranges’ three times instead of ‘origins’.
We found out that Trump had paid off a porn-star and another model to keep them quiet during the election. Trump’s personal lawyer went to prison. Then his campaign manager went to prison. His first national security advisor lasted just 24 days in the job and was found to be secretly lobbying for the Turkish government. Michael Flynn texted an associate about lifting Russian sanctions during Trump’s inauguration speech, while sitting just metres from the president.
Trump was accused of sexual misconduct both before and after the election. Then of rape. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the White House position was that all of the women were liars.
Trump started a policy of separating thousands of migrant children, including infants, from their parents. Record taking was poor and many children were lost in the system as their parents were deported. Thousands of children said they were sexually assaulted while in US custody. At least seven have died. Now these children are being forcibly ‘adopted’ by Americans. Adults held in detention were found to be filthy and kept in such dire conditions that they had to drink from a toilet. Visiting the detained children, Melania Trump wore a jacket that said ‘I really don’t care do u?’ on the back.
When there was a solar eclipse in Washington, Trump looked straight up at the sun. When he needed someone to run federal housing in New York he chose Eric Trump’s wedding planner.
Trump has torn up environmental protections and initiatives, allowing coal companies to dump waste into rivers and medical mercury to be released untreated. Staff at the Department of Agriculture were given a list of terms they could no longer use, including ‘climate change’. Trump’s EPA administrator said that he did not think CO2 is a primary contributor to climate change. For the first time in years, America’s air quality has worsened.
Trump’s family members were given top security clearances. Ivanka, a former shoe retailer, started accompanying her father to international political summits. Son in law Jared Kushner, a 38-year old property developer, was given responsibility for peace in the Middle East, solving the opioid epidemic, reforming veterans affairs and the criminal justice system, as well as liaison with Mexico and China.
Trump disparaged traditional allies and has shown affection for strongmen and dictators. When he met with Vladimir Putin at Helsinki they spoke for two hours alone and Trump confiscated the translator’s notes. Trump has met with Kim Jong Un but failed to achieve any concrete reduction in the threat from North Korea. When Kim sent Trump a letter, Trump said the two of them had fallen in love.
Trump pulled America out of the Paris climate agreement. He tore up the nuclear deal with Iran. He replaced NAFTA with a new trade deal that was very similar to the old one. When a Washington Post columnist was murdered, Trump publicly doubted that the killing was linked to Saudi Arabia and refused to do anything about it.
Trump spent nearly two years disparaging and obstructing the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. His attorney general misrepresented the report’s contents, some of which remain redacted. Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator in the case against Michael Cohen. A memo, untested by law, appears to be the only thing stopping Trump from being criminally indicted. He still refuses to acknowledge that Russia tried to help him in 2016.
The Washington Post started counting Trump’s lies. In three years Trump has made over 13,000 false or misleading statements. Trump has repeatedly called the press the ‘enemy of the people’.
Trump has gone to extraordinary measures to conceal his tax returns, maintaining that they are still under audit. During the one year we have seen figures for, Trump lost more money than any other individual in the United States.
Despite building his election campaign around Hillary Clinton’s emails, Trump continues to use an unsecured phone. His family and cabinet members have been found using Whatsapp to communicate and non-government email addresses for government work.
Trump has overseen an unprecedented turnover of staff at the White House. Many appointees have been wildly under-qualified like Ben Carson, who had no experience running an organisation like HUD and had never worked in any capacity on housing policy or urban development.
Credible and respected public figures have warned that they believe the American president is compromised by Russia.
In the last few weeks, Republicans have stormed a secure facility to try to physically disrupt congressional hearings and Trump’s lawyer has argued in court that the president’s legal immunity is such that he could shoot someone in the street and the police would not be permitted to intervene.
This is just a sample. You could triple the length of this article and there’d be insanity to spare. Instead of ending the ‘American carnage’ he spoke of at his inauguration, Donald Trump has presided over the most inept, corrupt and feckless administration in the history of the United States. We’ve reluctantly grown used to the idea that the leader of the free world is a malignant narcissist, an unstable man-child who literally sits on a golden toilet yet relentlessly attacks anyone in his way and rage-tweets his victimhood every night and day.
As we enter the fourth and final year of Trump’s (first) term in office, the closing net of impeachment seems likely to turn the insanity-ometer up to eleven. Buckle up, this is going to be a wild ride.