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.
In May 2017, strained relations between the U.S. and Iran escalated when Trump deployed military bombers and a carrier group to the Persian Gulf. Trump hinted at war on social media, provoking a response from Iran for what Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif called "genocidal taunts". Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman are allies in the conflict with Iran. Trump approved the deployment of additional U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates following the attack on Saudi oil facilities which the United States has blamed on Iran.More Info
On April 22, Trump signed an executive order restricting some forms of immigration to the United States. In April 2020, Republican-connected groups organized anti-lockdown protests against the measures state governments were taking to combat the pandemic; Trump encouraged the protests on Twitter, even though the targeted states did not meet the Trump administration's own guidelines for reopening. He first supported, then later criticized Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's plan to reopen some nonessential businesses, which was a key example of Trump often reversing his stances in his communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the spring he increasingly pushed for ending the restrictions as a way to reverse the damage to the country's economy.More Info
Trump's cabinet nominations included U.S. senator from Alabama Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, financier Steve Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury, retired Marine Corps general James Mattis as Secretary of Defense, and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Trump also brought on board politicians who had opposed him during the presidential campaign, such as neurosurgeon Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations.More Info
Two of Trump's 15 original cabinet members were gone within 15 months: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign in September 2017 due to excessive use of private charter jets and military aircraft, and Trump replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo in March 2018 over disagreements on foreign policy. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July 2018 amidst multiple investigations into his conduct, while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned five months later as he also faced multiple investigations.More Info
Trump has repeatedly praised Russian president Vladimir Putin; criticism of Putin by Trump was uncommon. As a presidential candidate, Trump continually reiterated that Putin is a strong leader. When Putin in August 2017 expelled over half of the staff of the American embassy in Russia in retaliation for Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which imposed new sanctions on Russia, President Trump responded by thanking Putin, saying "We'll save a lot of money," instead of criticizing him. After Trump met Putin at the Helsinki Summit on July 16, 2018, Trump drew bipartisan criticism for siding with Putin's denial of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, rather than accepting the findings of the United States intelligence community.More Info
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