Donald Trump admitted on Wednesday that he intentionally downplayed the threat of the coronavirus despite knowing how deadly and dangerous it was.
He defended his actions to a crowd of reporters by saying, "I love our country and I don't want people to be frightened, I don't want to create panic." However, his attempt to deflect criticism after getting caught lying to the public doesn't match reality.
For years, Trump has attempted to stoke fear in Americans, often lying and creating alternate realities to do so.
"There are a lot of CRIMINALS in the Caravan. We will stop them. Catch and Detain! Judicial Activism, by people who know nothing about security and the safety of our citizens, is putting our country in great danger. Not good!" — Trump tweet on Nov. 21, 2018
"A very big Caravan of over 20,000 people started up through Mexico. It has been reduced in size by Mexico but is still coming. Mexico must apprehend the remainder or we will be forced to close that section of the Border & call up the Military. The Coyotes & Cartels have weapons!" — Trump tweet on Apr. 24, 2019
Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, Trump — with the help of Fox News — tried to instill fear about a caravan of immigrants from South America coming to the United States.
In doing so, he falsely portrayed the immigrants, who were coming to the United States to seek asylum, as "criminals" — even as studies have shown immigrants commit less crime than American citizens.
"Sanctuary Cities released at least 142 Gang Members across the United States, making it easy for them to commit all forms of violent crimes where none would have existed. We are doing a great job of law enforcement, but things such as this make safety in America difficult!" — Trump tweet on April 19, 2018
Another aspect of Trump's 2018 midterm messaging was to tie Democrats to so-called "sanctuary cities," which Trump sought to paint as lawless areas.
The term "sanctuary cities" describes cities that limit with federal immigration enforcement to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.
But again, there is no data showing that undocumented immigrants commit more crime than native-born Americans.
"If Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi gain the majority, they will try to raise your taxes, restore job-killing regulations, shut down your coal mines and timber mills, take away your healthcare, impose socialism, and ERASE your borders. VOTE" — Trump tweet on Nov. 3, 2018
For years, Trump has sought to scare people into believing that Democrats are for "open borders," appealing to racist and xenophobic fears.
Democrats are not for "open borders."
"Radical Islamic Terrorism"
"The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is very real, just look at what is happening in Europe and the Middle-East. Courts must act fast!" — Trump tweet on Feb. 6, 2017
In the wake of terrorist attacks both in the United States and abroad, Trump has fearmongered about "radical Islamic terrorists" in an effort to push his anti-Muslim policies.
Meanwhile, Trump has refused to take the threat of white supremacists committing domestic terrorism seriously — even though the federal government have said that white supremacists are the "most persistent and lethal" terror threat in the country.
"Women are tied up, they're bound, duct tape put around their faces, around their mouths, in many cases they can't even breathe. They're put in the backs of cars or vans or trucks." — Trump in a speech at the White House on Jan. 25, 2019
During the government shutdown in 2019, Trump spoke about the need to fund efforts against human trafficking, using a grizzly anecdote about female victims.
No one knows where Trump's anecdote comes from, but some experts said his claim was "divorced from reality."
"If you want to stop the drug smugglers, human traffickers, and vicious MS-13 gang members from threatening our communities and poisoning our youth, you have only one choice — you must elect more REPUBLICANS!" — Trump tweet on Sept. 16, 2019
Again, in an effort to earn support from the GOP base, Trump has fear-mongered about immigrant gangs.
Green New Deal
"I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called "Carbon Footprint" to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military - even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!" — Trump tweet on Feb. 9, 2019
Trump's fear mongering over a Democratic climate change proposal is false.
"If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer." — Trump at a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee on April 3, 2019
"Democrats are aggressively pushing late-term abortion allowing children to be ripped from their mother's womb, right up until the moment of birth. The baby is born and you wrap the baby beautifully, and you talk to the mother about the possible execution of the baby." — Trump at a campaign rally in Panama City Beach, Florida, on May 13, 2019.
Trump has made the false claim numerous times that doctors execute babies after they are born — a fearmongering claim meant to appeal to his anti-abortion evangelical base. The claim has been disproven by multiple fact-checkers.
"If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal," Trump tweet on Sept. 29, 2019.
Trump once threatened civil war if he was successfully impeached and removed from office.
Suicide from stay-at-home orders
"You're going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression. You're going to lose people. You're going to have suicides by the thousands." — Trump at a Fox News town hall on March 24, 2020.
As Trump pushed for governors to reopen their states amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he falsely claimed that keeping states closed would lead to more suicides than deaths from the virus.
Experts said there is no evidence Trump's warning of mass suicides would occur.
"Domestic Terrorists have taken over Seattle, run by Radical Left Democrats, of course. LAW & ORDER!" — Trump tweet on June 10, 2020
Trump has railed against antifa, the loose group of anti-fascists who Trump claims are behind the violence at some anti-racism protests across the country.
In doing so, he's portrayed an alternate reality about what life is like in American cities like Seattle.
"And then they have cans of soup. And they throw the cans of soup. That's better than a brick because you can't throw a brick. It's too heavy. But a can of soup, you can really put some power into that, right? And then when they get caught, they say, 'No, this is soup for my family.' They're so innocent. This is soup for my family." — Trump in an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham on Aug. 31, 2020.
Trump claimed Antifa members were throwing soup cans at law enforcement at protests. There is no evidence of this.
"We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend, and in the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that." — Trump in an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham on Aug. 31, 2020.
Trump again tried to fear-monger about antifa, this time claiming that antifa "thugs" were spotted on a plane. There is no evidence of this.
"With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" Trump tweet on July 30, 2020
Down in the polls and facing the possibility of defeat in November, Trump has taken to fearmongering about the accuracy of election results — falsely claiming that an increase in voting by mail will lead to fraud.
"The Democrats never even mentioned the words LAW & ORDER at their National Convention. That's where they are coming from. If I don't win, America's Suburbs will be OVERRUN with Low Income Projects, Anarchists, Agitators, Looters and, of course, 'Friendly Protesters.'" — Trump tweet on Sept. 10, 2020
In an effort to win over suburban voters who have abandoned the GOP in droves since Trump's election in 2016, Trump has used racist fearmongering about minorities moving into suburbs.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
"The 'suburban housewife' will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey [sic] Booker in charge." — Trump tweet on Aug. 12, 2020
Trump fearmongered that Booker — a Black Democratic Senator who supports affordable housing — would someday be "in charge" of diversifying the suburbs.
"Joe Biden is just a Trojan horse for socialism," — Trump at a campaign stop in Wisconsin on Aug. 17, 2020.
Trump and the GOP have made their 2020 messaging about how Democrats would bring socialism to the United States and ruin the country.
Of course, many of the policies Trump supports are textbook socialism, including his farmer subsidies.
"If you want your 401k's and Stocks, which are getting close to an all time high (NASDAQ is already there), to disintegrate and disappear, vote for the Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats and Corrupt Joe Biden. Massive Tax Hikes - They will make you very poor, FAST!" — Trump tweet on July 6, 2020.
Trump has falsely said that if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins, the economy will tank.
Of course, the economy is in a deep recession right now — with Trump in charge. And historically, the economy has done better when Democrats are in the White House.
Second Amendment rights
"Just like Radical Left New York is trying to destroy the NRA, if Biden becomes President your GREAT SECOND AMENDMENT doesn't have a chance. Your guns will be taken away, immediately and without notice. No police, no guns!" — Trump tweet on Aug. 6, 2020
Unlike what Trump said, Biden does not support repealing the Second Amendment, nor does he support defunding the police.
Nancy Pelosi could be president
"You know, there's a theory that if you don't have it by the end of the year, Crazy Nancy Pelosi would become President. You know that, right?" — Trump in an Aug. 21, 2020 speech.
In his quest to stop an increase in mail-in ballots, Trump warned that counting absentee could delay election results until after Inauguration Day, which would make Speaker Nancy Pelosi president.
No more windows
"So they want to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, and they want to seek an even higher level of restraint. In other words, make it worse than it was. Mandate net-zero carbon emissions for homes, offices, and all new buildings by 2030. That basically means no windows, no nothing," Trump at a speech at the White House on July 14, 2020.
There is no evidence Biden would do away with windows if he became president.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.