I don’t believe in assigning President Trump silly nicknames. There is no combination of orange, hand, marigold or pumpkin jokes or references that either makes me chuckle or truly demonstrates who or what he is. Why? Primarily because who Donald Trump is, and what he represents, isn’t funny and runs much deeper than a few wacky monikers or memes based on him or his Baghdad Bob-level staff. Everything that is utterly dangerous, terrible and not meme-worthy about Donald Trump was on display tonight in his first major interview as president with David Muir of ABC News.
It’s cute to talk about #AlternativeFacts and #SpicerFacts and even sometimes #FakeNews, but the sinister and terrifying reality of the Trump presidency is his complete disdain for actual facts and information. Early in the interview, Muir asked Trump directly why the president claims that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election without any evidence. Trump then cited a 2008 Pew study—to which Muir quickly and succinctly pointed out not only that the study in question does not show any massive voter fraud but also that the author himself says that his own research did not substantiate any of Trump’s claims.
Which led to the most dangerous quote of the entire interview. After being asked whether or not he’s concerned about making such a dishonest claim, Trump said, “Not at all, because millions of people agree with me.”
There you have it. Trump doesn’t care that he’s lying, so long as enough Americans believe whatever lie he wants to spout. To be clear, his call for an investigation into “voter fraud” is just an excuse to target Democratic states and Democratic voters for voter suppression.
Muir asked Trump what he meant by his threat to send “the feds” into Chicago to stop all the murders. Trump response was, “We have to get tougher and crack down.” He then went on to mention nonspecific ways that he would “step in” to control crime in the city if the state or local government didn’t do enough. To make it clear, Trump is advocating martial law, a “temporary” suspension of rights when the federal government declares an area in crisis. This means curfews, mass arrests of “suspected criminals,” protesters and even press, and vast unchecked powers being given to law enforcement.
Chicago had more homicides in 2016 (762) than New York (334) and Los Angeles (294) combined, but Trump’s focus on Chicago has nothing to do with stopping crime. Chicago has become a dog whistle (more of a megaphone, actually) for white racists in America looking to attack minorities, and former President Barack Obama in particular. Chicago represents rioting and out-of-control blackness, and Obama is the terrifying black power that can come out of such chaos. By attacking Chicago, Trump is telling white America that he will “punish” the city for giving us Obama, a concept that most interviewers miss.
Muir asked the president whether or not “Dreamers”—young people who were brought to America as minors by their parents and who have known only America as their home—will be deported in his administration. Trump said, “I have a big heart.” And then he went on to say that only “bad people” had to worry. In this same series of questions, Trump lied about the wall with Mexico again, claiming that Mexico would pay for it, and that banning visas from several majority-Muslim nations was not his “Muslim” ban.
Donald Trump will deport the Dreamers. Donald Trump will begin to deport Muslims. Donald Trump will begin building a wall with Mexico and will start a trade war to get Mexico to pay for something that it has steadfastly refused to have any part of. Everything that Trump said in this portion of the interview was barely a backpedal or a soft shoe. He simply lied or refused to answer the question, which means that viewers are left to follow whatever he has said in the past—and that means massive deportations of people of color and Muslims.
There is nothing that could be learned from the Muir interview with Trump that wasn’t readily known during the 2016 presidential campaign. He ran a campaign tapping into and fomenting white resentment against people of color, and he will run his presidency that way. He will do whatever he wants regardless of what the evidence or facts may say, even if that includes ignoring the information in the very data he cites to justify his actions. You didn’t need to watch Muir conduct an excellent interview for an hour to realize these things about Trump. But I guess for those few remaining Americans who thought he was kidding for the last 18 months or that he was exaggerating to get votes, now they know the truth. The rest of us have been pretty aware of who he is for the last eight years.