President Trump returned from his Virginia golf course Saturday afternoon and turned his Twitter feed into a crime blotter.
In less than five minutes, the president posted 15 fliers from the United States Park Police to his 82.6 million followers, complete with grainy photos of Americans suspected of vandalism at Lafayette Square. The images hearkened to the kinds of posters one would see on the wall of a local post office.
The president’s messages about protesters and vandals have continued apace, often in the early hours of the morning or the late hours of the evening when he is not surrounded by aides, but sometimes in interviews and executive orders.
“We are tracking down the two Anarchists who threw paint on the magnificent George Washington Statue in Manhattan. We have them on tape. They will be prosecuted and face 10 years in Prison based on the Monuments and Statues Act,” Trump wrote Tuesday morning. “Turn yourselves in now!”
As the country convulses from incidents of police killings, mass protests and a rapidly spreading pandemic that has led to double-digit unemployment, the president seems most intent on inflaming an already burning culture war, using his Twitter feed to focus on vandalism by protesters and the well-being of statues that have been targeted.
Trump has rarely posted about the coronavirus in recent weeks, skipping task force meetings and briefings. Police reform measures have not been at the top of his mind, with Republican allies saying he missed a chance to highlight Democrats scuttling a bill championed by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the lone black Senate Republican and one of only three in the Chamber. An economic recovery message being pushed by allies often seems to get less attention from the president.
Instead, in dozens of tweets and comments, he has advocated for harsher criminal penalties and long jail sentences for those tearing down statues, suggesting up to 10 years in prison. Some allies note it is hard to see how 10 years in prison for painting a statue squares with the criminal justice law he signed and often promotes. Protesters who burn the flag, he said, should get one year in jail. [Continue reading…]