Trump’s tyranny: Four turbulent years of presidency
After four long years the reign of Trump is finally over. Niamh Walsh takes a look at some of the most memorable moments from his time in office.
After shocking the world with a surprise victory over Hilary Clinton in 2016, the world held its breath whilst watching ex-businessman Donald Trump take his place as the 45th president of the United States. No-one knew what would be in store for America, or the globe for that matter. But as predicted, a highly unconventional and eventful presidency began. Let’s take a look back at the most defining, scandalous and sordid moments of Trump’s time in office.
Starting at the beginning, within a week of his inauguration Trump had infamously signed the ‘Muslim ban’: an executive order which banned citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) from entering the United States. This understandably sparked international outrage, with multiple countries such as France and Germany condemning Trump. Jihadist and Islamic terrorist groups recognised the executive order as validating their claim that the US “are at war with Islam”. Within the same week, he signed executive Order 13767, formally giving the U.S. government permission to begin wall construction along the US-Mexico borders.
Later in 2017, following his isolationist policy of putting “America First”, Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, making America one of three countries in the world who were not part of the clause. Again, this generated domestic and international out-cry as political leaders, as well as large businesses, condemned his decision.
To round off a bad year, in July Trump failed to castigate the white supremacists in Charlottesville who organised and marched in the Unite the Right rally. He initially stated that he “condemned hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” and then referred to there being “very fine people on both sides”, suggesting that there was an implied moral equivalence between the marchers and those protesting against them. Again, this garnered a lot of criticism, with many arguing that Trump had been sympathetic to the white supremacists.
Whilst he certainly won’t go down as one of America’s greatest presidents, he definitely made sure that he will never be forgotten
A certainly surprising yet defining moment in Trump’s presidency was the 2018 North Korea-United States Singapore summit between Kim Jong-un and Trump. It was the first-ever meeting between leaders of North Korea and the United States, where they both signed a joint statement, agreeing to security guarantees for North Korea; new peaceful relations; the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; recovery of soldiers’ remains; and follow-up negotiations between high-level officials. This de-escalated tensions between the two countries and suggested hope for achieving a peace deal from the summit.
Back to the bad stuff, Trump has a history of being accused of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment since the 1970s, famously bragging that he “can do anything” to women, and “grab ‘em by the pussy”. In June 2019, as part of the ongoing #MeToo Movement, E. Jean Carroll wrote in the New York magazine that Trump had assaulted her in the changing room of a Bergdorf Goodman store in 1995/1996. Although Trump denied her claim, stating that she wasn’t even “[his] type” anyway, this event further cemented the President’s record of being a sexual assaulter.
In December 2019, Trump also faced his first impeachment by the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The impeachment came after a formal House inquiry claimed that he had solicited foreign interference from Russia in the 2020 U.S. presidential election to help his re-election bid, although he was eventually acquitted by the Senate in February the following year.
Throughout the course of his presidency, Trump was never far from the headlines
Perhaps the most tumultuous year of them all, 2020 began with the world on the brink of a possible nuclear war. On January 3rd, the U.S. sanctioning of an airstrike in Iraq consequently led to the assassination of the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, who was considered the second most powerful person in Iran – abruptly escalating tensions between the two countries. Iran designated the United States Central Command and the US army as terrorist organisations, further deteriorating U.S. foreign relations in Iran.
Another memorable moment of Trump’s presidency was his dealing of the coronavirus pandemic, initially referring to Covid-19 as the ‘Chinese virus’, claiming that injecting people with disinfectant could help cure people, and saying that it had “affect[ed] virtually nobody”, even though at the time 200,000 deaths had been recorded in the United States. In May 2020, after the unlawful killing of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin, nationwide protests began in over 2000 cities, as well as internationally in over 60 countries. Whilst the majority of protests were peaceful, demonstrations in some cities escalated into riots and looting, prompting Trump to call them “thugs”, stating that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.
Finally, an incident that is fresh in everyone’s memories: the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol and subsequent vote of a second impeachment of Trump. After it was announced that he had officially lost the 2020 presidential election, Trump called on his supporters to gather in Washington, D.C. on January 5th and 6th in support of his claim that the 2020 election had been “stolen” from him. The rioters occupied, vandalized and looted areas of the building for several hours, leading to the evacuation and lockdown of the Capitol, and five deaths. A week later, the House of Representatives voted for the impeachment of Trump for the “incitement to insurrection”, becoming the only federal official in United States history to have ever been impeached twice.
It cannot be denied throughout the course of his presidency, Trump was never far from the headlines. He has had significant policy impacts and whilst many of his actions have been condemned, many of his supporters claimed he kept his promises of low unemployment, lower corporate tax rate and bring in huge tax cuts for working Americans and cutting US federal regulations. Whilst he certainly won’t go down as one of America’s greatest presidents, he definitely made sure that he will never be forgotten.