24.11.2020

President tweets photo of himself wearing mask

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As the coronavirus pandemic death toll grew to more than 140,000 people in the US, Donald Trump tweeted out a photo of himself wearing a mask and saying “many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me”.

As violence continued in Portland, meanwhile, Trump confirmed reports that his administration planned on sending “law enforcement” to major cities across the country.

Two world wars, however, were described as “beautiful” during a Fox News interview as the president defended his resistance to renaming US military bases connected to Confederate generals.

Trump’s attacks on Joe Biden mental fitness during the interview didn’t poll well with voters, while many viewers questioned the president’s own performance during the heated sit-down with host Chris Wallace.

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s up-to-the-minute coverage of the Trump administration and US politics, during what is shaping up to be another week of crisis in a country struggling with an escalating coronavirus pandemic.

Trump struggles for answers in heated interview with Fox News

Donald Trump defended his performance in handling the coronavirus pandemic, his 2020 re-election prospects, people who fly Confederate flags and his own mental faculties in a wide-ranging interview with Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace.

Mr Wallace won plaudits from other White House reporters and others for coming into the interview prepared with facts to rebut the president’s claims, which at times stretched the truth at best and defied it wholesale at worst.

In the backdrop of Mr Trump’s interview was polling from several outlets last week that mostly showed the president trailing his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, by anywhere from 8 to 15 percentage points, as the president continues to struggle among voters disaffected by his handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

Among the many shocking moments in Donald Trump’s interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, perhaps the most ominous came when the US president suggested he may not accept November’s election if he loses to Joe Biden.
“I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election,” Mr Trump falsely claimed of the prospect of voters sending in their ballots by mail. There is no evidence of widespread fraud when voting by mail.

Pressed on if that meant he would reject the result if he does not win, Mr Trump repeatedly said: “I have to see.”

Trump attacks on Biden’s mental fitness not landing with voters, poll finds

The Trump campaign’s apparent strategy to paint Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as senile and incompetent does not appear to be catching on with voters, a new Fox News poll has found.

Forty-seven per cent of the 1,104 registered voters surveyed for the poll released on Sunday said they believe Mr Biden has “the mental soundness to serve effectively as president,” while 39 per cent said they believe he does not.

The president, in fact, scored worse. Just 43 per cent of those surveyed said Donald Trump is mentally sound enough to serve effectively, while more than half, 51 per cent, said he is not.

Regarding the post below, Chris Wallace confronted Donald Trump about the fact polling shows the president is considered more mentally unfit for office than Joe Biden.

In perhaps the most bizarre moment of the interview, Mr Trump angrily insists “you couldn’t even answer the last five questions” after Mr Wallace reveals one of the tasks was to identify a picture of an elephant.

Kanye West launches presidential campaign with tearful abortion rant

Rapper Kanye West has held his first presidential rally – an erratic event that saw him disparaging Harriet Tubman, weeping over abortion and apparently making up policy ideas as he spoke.

With “2020” shaved into his hair and wearing a bulletproof vest labelled “security”, West addressed an indoor crowd in North Charleston, South Carolina without a microphone, at times struggling to make himself heard and telling the crowd to stop clapping.

West’s remarks were unscripted and often rambling, veering into topics from education to the history of slavery to a discussion of how inventor Nikola Tesla had described the Earth as a giant generator.

‘They just started whaling on me’: Veteran speaks out after video of federal officers beating him

Christopher David, a 53-year-old disabled Navy veteran, was so angry at the sight of federal officers sweeping up protesters in the last few nights on the streets of Portland, Oregon, that he decided to go and talk to them about it.

The city resident, who served more than eight years with the US Navy, got on a public bus on Saturday and headed to a protest in front of the city courthouse in the hope he could ask them some questions.

“I was enraged simply because I did not think they were taking their oath of office seriously or they were compromising their oath of office,” Mr David told The Independent. “So I actually went down because I wanted to talk to them about it.”

Here’s the video which has been shared widely of “Captain Portland”, a Navy veteran, holding his ground while a federal agent beats him with a baton during protests.

See the blog post below for the story in full.

An anti-Trump political action committee, Meidas Touch, has created an advert made almost exclusively of the president’s defence of a mental acuity test he took earlier this year.

Fox News host Chris Wallace confronted Donald Trump over the test’s apparent simplicity, causing the president to angrily claim Mr Wallace would not be able to answer “the last five questions”.

“I love that our new ad is literally just Trump’s answer to Chris Wallace’s question.” Meidas Touch co-founder Brett Meiselas said of the video.

Republicans to meet with Trump to discuss coronavirus aid package

Top Republicans in Congress are expected to meet Monday with President Donald Trump at the White House on the next Covid-19 aid package as the crisis many hoped would have improved has dramatically worsened, just as emergency relief is expiring.

New divisions between the Senate GOP majority and the White House posed fresh challenges. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell was prepared to roll out the $1 trillion package in a matter of days. But administration panned more virus testing money and interjected other priorities that could complicate quick passage.

Mr Trump insisted again Sunday that the virus would “disappear”, but the president’s view did not at all match projections from the leading health professionals straining to halt the US’s alarming caseloads and death toll.

Lawmakers were returning to a Capitol still off-limits to tourists, another sign of the nation’s difficulty containing the coronavirus. Rather than easing, the pandemic’s devastating cycle was happening all over again, leaving Congress little choice but to engineer another costly rescue. Businesses were shutting down again, schools could not fully reopen and jobs were disappearing, all while federal aid expired.

Without a successful federal strategy, lawmakers are trying to draft one.

As well as his bizarre defence of a mental acuity test he took and his ominous suggestion he may not accept the 2020 election result (detailed in blog posts below), here are some of the other most astonishing moments from Donald Trump’s interview with Chris Wallace on Sunday.

Mr Trump says “I heard we have the best mortality rate” after being confronted over America’s grim coronavirus statistics. The US has a higher official mortality rate than a number of countries.

Mr Trump says he “doesn’t care what the military says” amid military support for the renaming of bases currently named after Confederate generals.

Mr Trump claims he is “not a big fan of Fox” despite tweeting supportively of the broadcaster and its pro-Trump hosts literally hundreds of times since becoming president.

Here is some reaction to Donald Trump’s interview with Fox News on Sunday.

Richard Stengel, a former senior diplomat in the Obama administration, has warned the US citizens “need to be ready” after Mr Trump suggested he could reject the 2020 election result.

Ted Lieu, a Democratic congressman for California, said questions should be asked over the president’s siting for a mental acuity test.

Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman and prominent Trump critic, said the interview showed what “every single world leader knows about Donald Trump”.

Roger Stone uses racist slur in radio interview with black host

Roger Stone, the political operative who was spared a prison sentence this month by his friend Donald Trump, used a racial slur during a live radio show while speaking with the host, who is black.

Mr Stone was speaking on Saturday on The Mo’Kelly Show, a programme based at a Los Angeles radio station and hosted by Morris W O’Kelly, known as Mo’Kelly.

On the show, Mr O’Kelly questioned the role Mr Stone’s relationship and proximity to the US president played in the commutation of his sentence.

The host asked: “There are thousands of people treated unfairly daily, how your number just happened to come up in the lottery, I am guessing it was more than just luck, Roger, right?”

Mr Stone, who was speaking by phone, responded by muttering “…arguing with this Negro”; the beginning of his sentence was hard to hear. It sounded as if Mr Stone was not speaking directly into the phone but rather to himself or someone in the room with him.

Here is the Fox News poll that attracted Donald Trump’s ire during his interview with Chris Wallace on Sunday.

Although the numbers do not reflect particularly well on either candidate, Mr Trump flags significantly behind Joe Biden over their “mental soundness” to serve as president.

Maxine Waters jumps out of her car to intervene as black man stopped by police

California congresswoman Maxine Waters went to assist a black man who was pulled over by police in Los Angeles this weekend.

In a video shared online, Ms Waters parked her SUV and said she intervened to see what Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers were doing when they pulled a black man over.

The Democrat told the person videoing that “they stopped a brother so I stopped to see what they [the LAPD] were doing”.

With Donald Trump struggling across virtually every polling metric in his presidential race against Joe Biden, the Trump campaign appears increasingly desperate to drum up support.

It is sending extraordinary numbers of passive-aggressive emails to its subscribers attempting to squeeze more money out of them. Here is just one of nine emails sent to supporters on Sunday.

Brian Stelter, CNN’s chief media correspondent, has provided a useful overview of Donald Trump’s coronavirus misinformation during that extraordinary interview with Chris Wallace on Sunday.

Trump describes two world wars as ‘beautiful’ and threatens to veto bill renaming military bases

In a wide-ranging interview on Sunday with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, Donald Trump has once again refused to entertain the idea of renaming US military forts that currently bear the names of Confederate generals.

The subject came up as Wallace asked Mr Trump if he would veto the National Defence Authorisation Act, the annual legislation that funds military operations.

This year’s bill includes a provision renaming US military bases that are currently named after generals of the Confederacy – that is, men who fought against the Union to protect the institution of slavery. Those bases include Fort Bragg, the US Army’s largest base.

Donald Trump has nothing on his public schedule today until 5.50pm, when he will depart for a roundtable discussion with supporters.

That lasts for an hour, before he heads back to the White House again.

Trump condemns protests in Portland as administration moves to intervene in anti-racism demonstrations

Donald Trump condemned protests in Portland, Oregon, and violence in “Democrat-run” cities on Sunday as his Republican administration moves to intervene in urban centres he says have lost control of anti-racism demonstrations.

Federal law enforcement officers, armed with a new executive order aimed at protecting US monuments, last week started cracking down on crowds gathering in Portland to protest police brutality and systemic racism.

After a chaotic night in Portland that saw a police association building set on fire and officers shooting tear gas at a group of mothers protesting police brutality, Mr Trump and Portland’s mayor traded barbs over who was to blame for the escalating unrest.

“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE,” Mr Trump wrote in a Twitter post.

Facing declining polling numbers before his 3 November election against Democrat Joe Biden, Mr Trump is making “law and order” a central campaign issue to appeal to critical suburban voters.The president said he would resume the White House’s daily 5 pm EST briefings on coronavirus, which he has now taken to calling the “Invisible China Virus”.

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