Edwin Alvarez Toro
Washington, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- As Donald Trump prepares to leave the White House on Wednesday, Efe takes a look back at his four years in power, a turbulent period that has left the United States bitterly divided and which culminated in the violent scenes at the US Capitol on January 6 when a mob of the president’s most loyal supporters attempted to overturn the results of the election.
During the Trump presidency, the “America First” policy slogan came to signify entrenched political division at home and increasing diplomatic isolation abroad. And that was all before the Covid-19 pandemic became arguably the defining factor of the president’s single term in office.
Here are some of the key moments since the divisive real estate magnate and reality TV star with no prior political experience became the 45th president of the United States:
January 20: After storming to victory in November 2016, despite earning nearly 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, Donald J. Trump takes office. In his speech at the inauguration, Trump contentiously promises that, under his watch, policies will be firmly geared towards “America First.” Massive protests are held on or around the days leading up to the inauguration, including the Women’s March on Washington, which left more than 100 people detained.
January 25: Trump launches the project to build a border wall with Mexico, one of his main campaign promises, and a breakthrough in his immigration policy: children caged in detention centers make headlines, while travel bans are issued for a range of mostly poor or Muslim nations.
June 1: An outspoken skeptic of climate change, which he considers a Chinese “hoax” to undermine US manufacturing, Trump announces the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement. His successor, Joe Biden, has made rejoining that deal a priority for his first days in office.
August 12: After an attack on anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a neo-Nazi killed one person and injured another 20 by running over demonstrators with a car, Trump says there were “very fine people” on both sides of the argument.
December 6: Contrary to the global consensus to seek a negotiated solution to the “two-state” solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, part of an aggressive, pro-Israeli policy in the Middle East.
May 8: Trump announces the withdrawal of the US from a multilateral deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities, which had been one of the crowning achievements of his predecessor, Barack Obama. For Trump, the deal, which had been years in the making and was agreed upon with Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, “was defective at its core.” Sanctions on Iran and any businesses dealing with that country were immediately re-imposed.
June 12: Trump holds a historic summit in Singapore with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, after months of escalating tensions over the hermetic nation’s nuclear missile testing program. “We have developed a very special bond,” said Trump of a man he had dismissed as “Rocket Man” only months earlier. Despite the summit and claims of diplomatic success, no tangible progress on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula materialized.
July 6: The president turns his focus to his country’s main rival, China, imposing a $34 billion tariff increase on Chinese products for “unfair trade practices.” Beijing responded in kind, setting off a protracted trade dispute that remains unresolved.
January 25: After a partial government shutdown that lasted 35 days, the longest in US history and which affected 800,000 of the 2.1 million federal workers, Trump agrees to reopen the government with a decree that does not include funds from Congress for the wall with Mexico, a demand that had led to the impasse and shutdown.
April 18: A censored version of the report by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, charged with investigating the “Russian plot” (alleged interference by Moscow in the 2016 US presidential election), is published. The report found no evidence of collusion or of Trump’s ties to the Kremlin and no evidence of obstruction of justice, but neither did it exonerate him. The Justice Department closes the case without charging him.
July 14: In another episode that was welcomed by white supremacists among his base, Trump attacks four Democratic and Latino, Muslim or Black congresswomen, who are critical of the president and have accused him of racism, calling on them to “go back” to the countries they came from. All four are US citizens. In a now familiar cycle, Trump’s remarks are met with a wave of condemnation and accusations of racism, which he either ignores or rebuffs.
February 5: After a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, Trump is acquitted of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden in the first of two impeachment proceedings.