Trump’s Presidency: The Infamous Moments We’ll Remember For Years To Come
To say Donald Trump’s time as US President has been controversial is something of an understatement.
But with Joe Biden having won the 2020 presidential election, both he and Vice President Kamala Harris look set to restore order to US democracy.
In just four years, the 74-year old reality TV star-turned-POTUS managed to make more headlines than any other president in history, which makes it particularly tough narrowing down his most outrageous moments, but we gave it our best shot.
The Great Inauguration Lie
From the very beginning, the Trump administration gaslit the world with lies and no one could quite believe what they were hearing; mainly because we could literally see contrasting evidence. Take the inauguration, for example. His then press secretary Sean Spicer claimed it was the biggest inauguration crowd size in history. Trump himself continued to push the falsity, but suffice to say photo evidence disproved his claim.
The Uncouth Victory Speech
Trump’s 2019 speech declaring the death of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was a tad mortifying, and saw him waffle, struggle and slur, call the terrorists ‘losers’ and throw about juvenile insults. When footage was chopped together with Obama’s announcement of the death of Bin Laden, there was a stark contrast in style and tone.
The El Paso Photo Op
One of the most distasteful PR stunts of the Trump era was in the wake of the 2019 El Paso shooting, where a gunman entered a Texas Walmart and killed 23 shoppers, injuring a further 23. Instead of doing normal things like comforting victims or condemning the killer, Trump and First Lady Melania tracked down an orphaned baby from the attack and had a photo holding the unaware child, with Trump grinning and giving a thumbs up.
Hiring ‘Only The Best People’
When it came to forming his governmental administration, it went as well as could be expected; hiring a string of hugely problematic figures who had little or no relevant experience for the job, such as retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, anti-abortionist Teresa Manning being put in charge of Planned Parenthood, while global warming denier Kathleen Hartnet White was eventually dropped as his nominee for Environmental Adviser. In Trump’s one term in office, a record number of staff came and went, many being given their marching orders by the president himself.
If mismatched and laughably unqualified roles were given out like sweets at a party, Trump’s hiring of Steve Bannon was one of the earliest shocks in his administration. Bannon, the former chief executive of far-right online news site Breitbart News, symbolised the very worst in extremist America – and it was now nestled comfortably within the walls of the White House as its Chief Strategist. Bannon lasted eight months in the role, and serves as a chilling reminder of the foundations of the Trump administration.
If the appointment of Bannon and other misfits wasn’t concerning enough, Trump handed out jobs to his family members, inviting his favourite daughter Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner into government with top-end roles. Despite Ivanka having zero relevant experience, she proceeded to float around in the vague role of ‘Adviser to the President’ attending world summit events, while her husband – whose relevant experience also has question marks hanging over – was tasked with side jobs like bringing peace to the Middle East, among other things.
Russia, Russia, Russia!
Soon after taking office, the scandal over Russian interference in the 2016 election emerged. Infamously, during a meeting with Vladimir Putin, Trump was asked by a journalist whether Russia interfered and if so, would he denounce it. Spectacularly, he sided with the Russian leader, claiming, ‘He [Putin] just said it’s not Russia, I don’t see any reason why it would be,’ despite numerous US intelligence agencies stating otherwise. Trump never ended up saying a bad word about Putin, and question marks remain over Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The Presidential Pardon is used in rare circumstances where a miscarriage of justice has occurred, or extenuating circumstances require a person is given a second chance after committing and being convicted of a crime. However, Trump caused plenty of anger after he pardoned a string of guilty pals, as well as war criminals. Notably, he pardoned four members of the infamous Blackwater Security Consulting – a private company that hires ex-military to re-enter warzones for big profit – who found themselves in Iraq, ordered to protect US diplomats under the guise of a $1 billion contract. They indiscriminately shot at and killed 17 Iraqi civilians – including children as young as nine – in an unprovoked attack. And he’s set to hand out another 100 pardons before he leaves office.
Supreme Court Takeover
There were more subtle moves Trump made to strengthen his position, such as the appointment of three new Justices to the Supreme Court. Neil Gorsuch was the first, after President Obama had refrained from nominating a new candidate after Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 because it was during election year. In keeping with decorum, Obama waited for the new administration to appoint his successor. The retiring Anthony Kennedy was replaced by Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and finally the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hurriedly superseded by Amy Coney Barrett, which also happened to be in an election year. Three Republican Justices now swung the Supreme Court in their party’s favour, in theory offering Trump future leverage.
The Quid Pro Quo (AKA The First Impeachment)
A quid pro quo is defined as ‘a favour or advantage granted in return for something’. Not only was Trump caught (as evidenced in a White House released phone transcript), he in fact was found to have committed the act twice. The first time was when the White House offered Ukraine a meeting in exchange for investigations into Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. The second came when it was revealed Trump held back military aid to Ukraine unless it agreed to publicly launch investigations in Hunter Biden and into Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, to which they refused on both accounts.
The Time He Threw Supplies At Hurricane Victims
When Trump finally arrived in Puerto Rico – a whole two weeks after the US territory was hit by a category four hurricane – he decided what traumatised victims who’d lost everything needed was to have paper towels chucked at them, as if they were tombola prizes handed out at a funfair as opposed to vital supplies given to those in dire need. It was an odd and extremely uncomfortable decision.
Child Border Separation
No matter how he or his supporters may deflect, the truth is the Trump administration’s zero tolerance to migrants or anyone seeking asylum was harsh, as countless shocking photos, videos and first-hand accounts relayed the horrors of how kids were quite literally torn from their parents’ arms, locked in appalling detention facilities, then often lost in the system whereby their families were unable to reunite with them. As of the end of October last year, 545 children were still imprisoned, displaced and unable to be returned to their loved ones, after being separated and locked in prison-type camps throughout 2017 and 2018.
Retweeting Britain First, Not Once But Three Times
People in the United Kingdom were shocked when the sitting president shared videos from Jayda Fransen, the then deputy leader of far-right group Britain First; retweeting no less than three tweets in quick succession. The propaganda he shared to tens of millions across Twitter offered up anti-Muslim sentiments designed to stir up hate and also perpetuated falsities. Not only did he refuse to remove the retweets, he didn’t even apologise for sharing content from Britain First, claiming in one of Piers Morgan’s softball interviews, ‘If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible, racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that, I know nothing about them,’ after admitting they were indeed unverified videos he recklessly spread.
The Time He Encouraged Police Brutality
When he was addressing a crowd of police officers in the summer of 2017, he implored them to be rougher with criminals. ‘Please, don’t be too nice,’ Trump requested. ‘When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody. Don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay.’ This resulted in a response from the police force in attendance, as well as people around the US and indeed the world, as some noted that in 2007 Freddie Gray died after receiving horrific injuries while in police custody, after officers weren’t ‘too nice’.
When He Told A Child Santa Wasn’t Real
In 2018, when Trump was taking part in the traditional presidential festive phone calls to kids, he subtly mocked one of them for still believing in old Saint Nick. While on a call to a seven-year-old child, he inexplicably questioned the legitimacy of Father Christmas, asking the no doubt bemused child, ‘Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at seven it’s marginal, right?’
Climate Change Denial
After making plenty of dismissive remarks that questioned the authenticity of climate change (after once blaming China) and failing to understand how solar energy works, he made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which sought to solve global issues such as rising temperatures, the melting of the polar icecaps, and generally to prevent the world from heading to an early grave.
He Stuck Up For Nazis
The events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 will forever haunt the United States. After a White supremacist Unite The Right march, which saw protesters brandishing tiki torches while chanting anti-Semitic hate such as ‘Jews will not replace us’, anti-racism protester Heather Heyer was murdered when a Neo-Nazi drove into a group of counter-protesters. Instead of the POTUS offering condolences or condemning the racist violence, he took the bold move of suggesting there were ‘very fine people, on both sides’.
Gassed Peaceful Protesters
On June 1, 2020, as peaceful protesters gathered in Washington DC’s Lafayette Square after the murder of George Floyd, Trump decided to send in the heavies to forcefully remove them. Officers used tear gas and violence against the public, including media covering the event, in order to clear a path so the president could walk to St John’s Episcopal Church and pose for a photo with a bible.
Mocked A Survivor Of Sexual Assault
Remember when Trump’s top candidate Brett Kavanaugh was accused of attempted rape and assault? During an incredulous hearing, Republican Congressmen tried to discredit the claim, with the icing on the cake being when Donald himself took to the stage to openly mock Christine Blasey Ford at a MAGA event. In front of a mic and gleeful audience, the man who has been accused by no less than two dozen women of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault, proceeded to make fun of a victim’s account of an aggressive sexual attack.
Insurrection (and Impeachment Part II)
His most recent blemish comes in the form of his incitement of insurrection ahead of the Capitol Riots of January 6, 2021. After a blazing rally riling up his supporters, as he continued to push his election fraud narrative, he and his family – not to mention other prominent Republicans – encouraged his base to fight for their rights, leading to a group of violent nationalists storming the Capitol building as the 2020 election result was being formally certified. After Nancy Pelosi and other prominent government members, including VP Mike Pence, were rushed to a secure location, people smashed the place up and looted government property. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer. During the carnage that many labelled domestic terrorism, Trump took to Twitter to offer a message to the mob, reiterating his claim that it was indeed a ‘fraudulent election’, before telling insurrectionists, ‘Go home, we love you, you’re very special… I know how you feel.’ Shortly afterwards, he was impeached for a second time, for inciting violence, after condemnation across both political parties, and was banned from Twitter and various other social media platforms.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Most Read StoriesMost Read