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Monday, December 09, 2019

Trump Complains D.C. Virus Outbreak May Ruin His Election Night Party

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

Donald Trump on Friday said he is mulling moving an election night party planned to be held at his Washington, D.C., hotel to the White House in order to avoid city coronavirus-related restrictions that ban large gatherings.

"So we have a hotel. I don't know if it's shut down, if you're allowed to use it or not," Trump told reporters Friday morning. "But I know the mayor has shut down Washington, D.C. And if that's the case, we'll probably stay here or pick another location. I think it's crazy. Washington, D.C., is shut down. Can you imagine?"

The New York Times reported the same day that Trump would not make an appearance at his campaign's party at the Trump International Hotel. The campaign raised money from donors by promising he would appear at the event.

"November 3rd will go down in history as the night we won FOUR MORE YEARS. It will be absolutely EPIC, and the only thing that could make it better is having YOU there. Join us on election night," read a fundraising letter containing a photo of Trump and his wife Melania and the words "Join us on election night."

If Trump does move the event to the White House, it would be yet another instance of him using government property for partisan political purposes, a violation of ethics laws. As Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, tweeted after Trump accepted the Republican Party nomination for reelection at an event on the White House lawn in August: "This abomination may be the most visible misuse of official position for private gain in America's history. It is an abuse of the power entrusted to this man, the breach of a sacred trust. It is the civic equivalent of a mortal sin—maybe a religious one too. And it is a harbinger."

It would also be yet another event at which Trump ignores public health guidelines aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Cases of the virus are currently skyrocketing across the country, with the number of deaths from the virus also on the rise.

Several events held at the White House in the past few months, including an event to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, were followed by many attendees receiving positive coronavirus tests. The White House refused to follow up the events with contact tracing.

There would be irony in Trump holding an election night party at the White House that runs afoul of safety restrictions, as his failure in responding to the pandemic and his refusal to adhere to public health guidelines are currently imperiling his reelection bid.

Polls show voters disapprove of Trump's virus response, and blame Trump's lax adherence to safety guidelines for his own infection with the virus earlier this month.

Meanwhile, if current polls are right, Trump will not be celebrating a victory on election night.

Polling averages currently show Trump losing to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by 9 points nationally, including in critical swing states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Those states alone voting for Biden would be enough to sink Trump's reelection bid. However, Trump is also behind in Arizona and Florida, and is at risk of losing Georgia and Texas — an outcome that would amount to an Electoral College blowout that hasn't been seen in decades.

If Trump were to keep his election night party at his D.C. hotel but didn't make an appearance, he would still personally profit from it, raking in fees for space rental and catering costs.

Over the course of the last four years, Trump has pocketed a combined total of at least $8.1 million in Republican donor and taxpayer money for events at and visits to his properties, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

For example, when Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in April 2018, Trump billed the federal government "$13,700 for guest rooms, $16,500 for food and wine and $6,000 for the roses and other floral arrangements," the Post said.

Democrats have been able to use ongoing accusations of grift against Trump and his family in campaign messaging, and polling shows voters care about the issue.

A YouGov survey released on Wednesday showing 56 percent of likely voters view Trump and his family as "corrupt."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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