Trump launched his political career in 2011 as a leading proponent of "birther" conspiracy theories alleging that Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, was not born in the United States. In April 2011, Trump claimed credit for pressuring the White House to publish the "long-form" birth certificate, which he considered fraudulent, and later saying this made him "very popular". In September 2016, amid pressure, he acknowledged that Obama was born in the U.S. and falsely claimed the rumors had been started by Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign. In 2017, he reportedly still expressed birther views in private.
The connections between Trump associates and Russia have been widely reported by the press. One of Trump's campaign managers, Paul Manafort, had worked from December 2004 until February 2010 to help pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovych win the Ukrainian presidency. Other Trump associates, including former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and political consultant Roger Stone, have been connected to Russian officials. Russian agents were overheard during the campaign saying they could use Manafort and Flynn to influence Trump.Members of Trump's campaign and later his White House staff, particularly Flynn, were in contact with Russian officials both before and after the November election. On December 29, 2016, Flynn talked with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions that had been imposed the same day; Flynn later resigned in the midst of controversy over whether he misled Pence. The Washington Post reported that Trump had told Kislyak and Sergei Lavrov in May 2017 he was unconcerned about Russian interference in U.S. elections.More Info
For months, Trump refused to wear a face mask at press conferences and most public events, contrary to his own administration's April 2020 guidance that Americans should wear masks in public. By June, Trump had stated that masks were a "double-edged sword", ridiculed Biden for wearing one, continually emphasized that mask-wearing was optional, and suggested that wearing a mask is a political statement against him personally. Trump first wore a face mask in public in July 2020, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. In late spring and early summer, with infections and death counts continuing to rise, he adopted a strategy of shifting the blame for his administration's failure to the states.More Info
In a Rose Garden speech on June 1, 2020, President Trump said he would deploy the U.S. military to stop violence if a city or state refused to do so, and declared himself the ally of peaceful protestors, following the police killing of George Floyd. While he was speaking, federal law enforcement officials used batons, rubber bullets, pepper spray projectiles, stun grenades, and smoke to remove a largely peaceful crowd from Lafayette Square, outside the White House. The removal had been ordered by Attorney General William Barr. Trump then walked to St. John's Episcopal Church where the night before a small fire had been set in the basement nursery of its parish house. He posed for photographs holding a Bible, with Cabinet members and other officials later joining him in photos. Trump, who had attended services at the church three times since taking office, did not enter the church or inspect the damage to the basement.More Info
Some of Trump's falsehoods are inconsequential, such as his claims of a large crowd size during his inauguration. Others have had more far reaching effects, such as Trump's promotion of unproven antimalarial drugs as a treatment for COVID‑19 in a press conference and on Twitter in March 2020. The claims had consequences worldwide, such as a shortage of these drugs in the United States and panic-buying in Africa and South Asia. The state of Florida obtained nearly a million doses for its hospitals, even though most of them did not want the drug. Other misinformation, such as Trump's retweet of unverified videos of a far-right British nationalist group in November 2017, serves a domestic political purpose, promoting policies on immigration and border security. As a matter of principle, Trump does not apologize for his falsehoods.More Info
American Media, Inc. (AMI) paid $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal in August 2016, and Trump's attorney Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in October 2016. Both women were paid for non-disclosure agreements regarding their alleged affairs with Trump between 2006 and 2007. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to breaking campaign finance laws, saying he had arranged both payments at the direction of Trump in order to influence the presidential election. AMI admitted paying McDougal to prevent publication of stories that might damage Trump's electoral chances. Trump denied the affairs, and claimed he was not aware of Cohen's payment to Daniels, but reimbursed him in 2017. Federal prosecutors asserted that Trump had been involved in discussions regarding non-disclosure payments as early as 2014. Court documents showed that the FBI believed Trump was directly involved in the payment to Daniels, based on calls he had with Cohen in October 2016. In July 2019, a federal judge disclosed that prosecutors had stated in a court filing they had closed the investigation, but days later the Manhattan District Attorney subpoenaed the Trump Organization and AMI for records related to the hush payments and in August subpoenaed eight years of tax returns for Trump and the Trump Organization.More Info
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