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Donald Trump has not backed down from plans to hold events to mark the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C., despite pleas from local lawmakers and elected officials who say going ahead with them is an unnecessary risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic and will cost far too much for a region already struggling with budget shortfalls due to the pandemic.

The White House announced the "Salute to America" event on the White House's south lawn and on the Ellipse in a statement on June 19, weeks after officials had asked Trump not to hold the event this year. "In addition to music, military demonstrations, and flyovers to honor our Nation's service members and veterans, the President will deliver remarks that celebrate our independence and salute our amazing heritage. The evening will culminate with a spectacular fireworks display over the National Mall."

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Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s White House counselor, claimed on Monday that Trump’s impeachment ran counter to the “vision” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

After asserting that Trump “agrees with many of the things that Dr. Martin Luther King stood for” such as “unity and equality,” Conway argued that it was not “within Dr. King’s vision to have Americans dragged through a process where the president is not going to be removed from office, is not being charged with bribery, extortion, high crimes or misdemeanors.”

“And I think that anybody who cares about ‘and justice for all’ on today or any day of the year will appreciate the fact that the president now will have a full throttle defense on the facts,” Conway said.

Trump’s record and rhetoric has been largely the opposite of King’s.

King spoke of the “Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief” that love “is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.” Trump has pushed to ban Muslims from entering the country.

King marched from Selma, Alabama, to the state capitol in Montgomery to push for voting rights. The Trump administration convened a voter suppression commission and is currently fighting a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act.

King protested in Chicago to demand fair housing laws. The Trump administration has fought to roll back fair housing protections.

King’s legendary 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and freedom called for a livable $2 federal minimum wage. Today, that would amount to less that the proposed $15 minimum wage that Trump’s administration says “would reverse this economic progress and hurt workers.”

King fought against the nation’s massive Pentagon budget, saying, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Trump has bragged of bringing the defense budget to record levels, saying he “accomplished the military [sic].”

Even on impeachment, it appears King took a different view from the Trump administration. While King, who was assassinated in 1968, obviously never took a position on Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political opponents, a 1952 essay praising theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and his views on “ethical dualism” sheds some light on King’s views on ethics and democracy.

“Democracy anticipates in its normal operation the right of the individual to criticize the rules. Impeachment is the final expression of this right,” King explained.

King is not the first historical figure the Trump administration has tried to appropriate for his defense team. He has repeatedly argued that the nation’s founders would not have wanted the House of Representatives to impeach him for his alleged abuse of power and obstruction.

After signing a presidential proclamation endorsing King’s concept of a “Beloved Community” of love and brotherhood for all — and also lobbing a series of insults at journalists and Democratic politicians — Trump also attempted to wrap himself in the mantle of MLK on Monday.

“So appropriate that today is also MLK jr DAY. African-American Unemployment is the LOWEST in the history of our Country, by far,” he said. “Also, best Poverty, Youth, and Employment numbers, ever. Great!”

While black unemployment is indeed at a low, fact-checkers have said much of the credit for that goes to the economic growth that started under Barack Obama and have also noted that the racial wealth gap is getting worse under Trump.

recent survey found 83 percent of black Americans believe Trump to be racist and the same percentage believe Trump has made racism worse since taking office.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore