Democracy Prevails Edition
Welcome to the last installment of Trumplandia, a place where, with a bit of wit and snark, we kept the world caught up on all the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you might have heard about but were too busy to care. Because most of this minutia occured just below the massive headlines, it was in a land of its own. Here, an infusion of social media, video clips and print media melded with our political views to make more delicious “Fake News” about our former commander-in-chief.
So just like the ex-president, we start our final review with a little tweet like this:
The week of Jan. 16, 2021: This week, the nation took a collective sigh of relief when twice-impeached President Donald J. Trump officially abandoned his post and flew off into the sunset aboard Marine One, ending four years of American carnage.
Trump, who has not even governed by gesture since he lost the 2020 presidential election to “Sleepy Joe” Biden, was deposed from the historic mansion at Foggy Bottom when Barack Obama’s former vice president took the oath of office as the nation’s 46th president on a brisk, sunny day.
Biden, who won with 320 Electoral College votes and a record popular vote tally of 81 million, was sworn into office in front of a small crowd of supporters who gathered in the area of the Capitol steps that has traditionally been used for inaugurations.
Washington D.C. Police, Capitol Police and the National Guard set a perimeter around the seat of power and areas close to the ceremony as a way to ensure the safety of Biden and Vice President Kamala D. Harris, which was made necessary after a riotous attack on Congress urged by Trump and several members of Congress who refused to accept Biden’s victory as legitimate.
Despite the need for extra security Biden, the second Catholic voted into the White House, appeared on the grandstand along with new First Lady Jill Biden and Harris, the first woman, the first Black person and first person of Asian descent in U.S. history to be elected as second in command.
The event was marked by the attendance of former Presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, with Trump being the first former president to skip the event in more than 150 years. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presided over Biden’s swearing in, while Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor conducted the oath of office for Harris, who accepted along side of her husband, the nation’s first Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.
The event was marked by the words of 22-year-old National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman; the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by pop sensation Lady Gaga; and “America the Beautiful” by singer/actress Jennifer Lopez.
However, it was Biden’s persistent call for unity in a divided nation that defined the day and defied and overwhelmed the pettiness of his predecessor:
“Here we stand across the Potomac from Arlington National Cemetery, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace. And here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, and to drive us from the sacred ground. That did not happen. It will not happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.
“We must end the uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservatives versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility.”
Biden’s soaring words overcame the tiny Trumpian efforts to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power that is the hallmark of our Madisonian democracy.
On the morning of the event, the outgoing First Family reportedly fired Chief White House Usher Timothy Harelth before they left and gave the butler staff the day off so there would be no one to help the incoming First Family when they arrived. Harleth, a former executive of Trump Hotels, was hired by Melania Trump in 2017 and replaced Angelia Reid, who was hired by Obama in 2011 and was the first woman to serve in the position.
The move by the Trumps, which was at first widely reported as Biden’s doing, caused the Bidens to reach the door at the North Portico after the inauguration and not be properly greeted during their first official entrance as president and first lady. Having the president of the United States stand in front of the closed door at the White House was seen as a major violation of protocol.
A Biden official confirmed to CNN that Harleth’s termination was done “before the Bidens arrived.”
Although not physically present, Trump is expected to return to scene of the crime in February for what is to be his second impeachment trial before the U.S. Senate. Trump is the first president to be impeached twice and will be the first to be tried after leaving office.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) will send a single article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate tomorrow. Trump was impeached in the House on Jan. 13 on the charge that he incited a mob to attack Congress just a week before.
The siege on the Capitol left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. If convicted in the Senate, Trump would face being disqualified from holding public office in the future.
Making America Great Again
The normally peaceful, celebratory swearing in of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., became almost audacious in the face of seditious riots from supporters of the last president that sacked the halls of Congress two week prior, but also for its occurrence during one of the biggest surges of novel coronavirus infections in the United States since the contagion first hit our shores in January 2020.
Biden said during his inauguration:
“We will press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility. Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build. And much to gain.”
The new president acknowledged that few periods in our nation’s history have been more challenging than this time period.
As we close the book on our fight against Trumpian tyranny, Biden immediately focused on battling COVID-19 like a wartime adversary. He said coronavirus is a “once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country.”
The disease has taken the lives of more than 425,000 Americans and 2.1 million worldwide. Barely a year old, it has infected 25 million people in the United States and 99 million across the globe. Parts of the United Kingdom are in a lockdown due to the emergence of a new variant of the disease. Despite the development of at least three vaccines, COVID-19 continues to spread to new hosts each day.
Touting facts and science, Biden comes into office following a president who placed himself and the country somewhere between hoping the virus would go away while also hoping enough people contracted the contagion to develop a herd immunity to the pathogen.
The new administration is faced with attempting to reach a goal of 1 million vaccines a day during the first 100 days Biden is in office. Vaccines were produced and approved under the previous administration. The rollout effort began in December 2020 amid Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
However, little consideration had been given by the previous administration to how to get the vaccine to the public. The Trump administration’s stated goal to inoculate 20 million Americans by Dec. 31, 2020 was missed by about 8 million doses.
Biden signed about 30 executive orders during his first week in office, many of which were directly pointed at COVID-19. Included in the gaggle of presidential directives were orders to increase the manufacturing and delivery of personal protective equipment, or PPE, and testing supplies for coronavirus; another that directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expand reimbursement to states for use of the National Guard for emergency supplies and the creation of vaccination centers; another that promotes a 100-day masking challenge; another to increase the development of therapeutics for pandemic threats; an order to increase the collection and ability to share data on the virus; one to define national safety standards as it applies to COVID-19 for work and school; an order to require mask-wearing in airports and on public transportation while requiring international travelers to provide proof of a negative test before entering the country; and an order that ends the United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization.
Biden also overturned several Trump-era actions like emergency funding for the border wall; the travel ban for people from Muslim countries; and the country’s exit from the Paris Climate Agreement.
He also ordered a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, as well as an extension to the suspension of student loan payments. Biden also asked Congress to deliver a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to boost the economy and help states, small businesses and those who have lost jobs and income during last year’s pandemic.
“Yesterday, we learned that 900,000 more Americans filed for unemployment — 900,000. They join millions of Americans who, through no fault of their own, have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck.”
The Long Kiss Goodbye
For someone who attracted 75 million votes and falsely claimed to have had the largest inauguration “in person or anywhere,” Trump’s exit from the White House was relatively quiet, though elaborate.
The first couple dashed from the People’s House via the South Lawn at about 7:15 a.m. EST and boarded Marine One en route to a send-off at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. From their they landed in his new home state of Florida.
During those final moments at the White House, First Lady Melania Trump was seen wearing a black outfit that included a Chanel jacket with large gold buttons, a Dolce and Gabbana dress, Christian Louboutin heels and a Hermes Birkin handbag.
Once in Maryland, the Trumps would board Air Force One for the last time after presiding over a small ceremony that included a red carpet, color guard, a 21-gun salute and weeping Trump children. Noticeably absent was Vice President Mike Pence, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R- Ky.), who all attended the Biden Inauguration.
Internet trolls found joy in the tears of Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump, but delighted in the sadness of daughter/wife Ivanka, who was shown on Twitter and other social media platforms having a moment as her Dad bid adieu to the capital of a nation he commanded his minions to attack just two weeks prior.
In his departure speech, Trump said:
“Goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form.”
Trump kept it classy by having the Village People’s classic “YMCA” blaring for a final time as he said his goodbyes before entering Air Force One. Trump was the first president to boycott his successor’s inauguration since the also impeached Andrew Johnson skipped the swearing in of Ulysses S. Grant in 1869.
The Trumps last formal appearance occurred shortly after their arrival in Florida. Melania had dispatched her black button-down coat while aboard Air Force One and slipped into a colorful dress by Gucci — priced at $3,700 — and her trademark sunglasses for the couple’s return to West Palm Beach.
The former president was said to have been enamored by the crowd that showed up to greet him and gleefully used his time speaking and waiving to his fans. The former FLOTUS seized upon the time to sprint to a waiting limousine and immediately return to private life.
Melania’s jaunt to normalcy was lampooned by internet trolls who categorized the most private First Lady of them all as “totally done.”
Trump earlier in the day brimmed over with lies about how popular his wife had been and invited her to say a few words, which included a gracious thank you to the American people for allowing her to serve as FLOTUS. Despite Mrs. Trump’s warm words and the POTUS’ false description of her popularity, a CNN/SSRS poll found the former lingerie model had the worst popularity rating for a first lady in polling history at 47 percent, nine percentage points below Hillary Clinton in 2000.
After his landing in Florida, Trump announced that he had pardoned Al Pirro, the ex-husband of Fox News Channel host Jeanine Pirro, who was convicted of conspiracy and tax evasion charges and had been sentenced to more than two years in prison 21 years ago.
Pirro was part of a list of 144 people to receive pardons or commutations from Trump before his final days in the White House. Joining Pirro was former Trump aide Steve Bannon, who faced possible prison time for swindling a couple million dollars in donations to a private group helping to fund the border wall with Mexico.
Pardoning appeared to be the only “president-ing” Trump did after siccing a bloodthirsty mob of his followers on Congress and his own vice president during the formal certification of the Electoral College votes by the legislative body.
Included among those pardoned were GOP donor Elliott Broidy, who was awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to violating foreign lobbying laws; former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was jailed for corruption; and rappers Lil Wayne, who was also awaiting sentencing on a gun charge, and Kodak Black, who was serving four-years on weapons charges.
His departure also left a “yuge” hole in the lives of some loyalists, who were not special enough to be granted a commutation or pardon.
Tiger King Joe Exotic said he was passed over by Trump because he was “too gay” for the former commander-in-chief. Exotic, the subject of a a Netflix documentary, is serving a 20 year sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot against his rival in the big-cat business, Carol Baskin.
Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, was so confidant he would be pardoned by Trump that friends had paid for a limousine to pick him up. The former animal trainer had even prerecorded a video thanking Trump.
Joe Exotic wasn’t the only MAGAt expressing disappointment:
Among those disappointed by pardons that never came were several of those arrested for attacking Congress, members of the Proud Boys and QAnon conspiracy theorists who fancied Trump a Jesus-like figure fighting against an imaginary cabal of Democrats and celebrities who are running a Satanic child-sex trafficking ring.
Last week, Jacob Chansley, the horn-wearing rioter who was known as the “QAnon shaman,” directed his attorney to push for a pardon from Trump.
His attorney, Albert Watkins, said his client only broke into the Capitol at the request of Trump and that he felt he was following an order from the president. Watkins told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the former president had “an obligation” to the rioters and his client and should pardon them.
Trump, of course, did not.
The New York Times reported members of the often violent far-right group had urged members to attend the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection and protest against the election they believed to be stolen. With some exalting Trump as their emperor prior to the bloody attack on Congress, support for the former president cooled this week with members of the group referring to the twice-impeached president as “weak,” a “shill” and a “total failure” following the arrest of one of its leaders, Joseph Biggs, in Florida for his alleged role in the Capitol riot.