If Maya Angelou's mantra "when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time," were to apply to the sitting U.S. President, the Tuesday night town hall with President Donald Trump was less informative and moreso a reminder of the critical nature of the 2020 election.
The President and The People: A 20/20 Special Event was moderated by host George Stephanopoulos in Philadelphia on Tuesday per ABC News. During the event, the President spent 90 minutes taking questions directly from ordinary Pennsylvanians from a range of political affiliations.
Trump responded to a medley of issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, economy, racial injustice and police reform. As the night wore on, many things became clear about Trump’s views and his approach to running the country.
Here are five key takeaways from the town hall:
His lack of concern for race relations is indisputably palpable.
Bob Woodward's new book Rage, already relayed the president has no interest in understanding the plight of Black Americans. In tandem with this disregard for race relations, Trump spent Tuesday night dodging questions about systemic racism. When pressed on the issue of racial inequality by pastor Carl Dey, Trump eventually settled on "I hope there's not a race problem" in America, before pushing the conversation back to the pre-pandemic economy.
He know he lying.
Everyone lies about something. I'm not really 5'6" unless I'm wearing Timbs. But Trump has literally told thousands of lies and made misleading statements while in office per a stunning Washington Post report.
Lately, Trump has been getting a lot of bad press for another part of Woodward's book, where the president admits that he knew early on that coronavirus was much deadlier and spread much quicker than he led the public to believe. Since Woodward's tapes of his interviews with Trump have been made public, the president has been denying that he lied to the American people, despite the clear evidence that he did.
During the town hall, however, Trump compared his coronavirus statements with an inaccurate anecdote about Winston Churchill. Trump alleged the British military leader said everything would be alright while watching the Nazis drop bombs on London during the “blitzkrieg” of the 1940s. Trump's message was that Churchill was not "being necessarily honest" but "being a great leader." Trump's Churchill story both tried to justify lying and was itself a misrepresentation of what Churchill actually did.
He thinks he deserves an "A" for effort.
Trump repeatedly referenced how great the economy was six months ago, and blamed China for the pandemic and its economic aftermath. The divider-in-chief claimed economic gains made while he was in office had been creating "unity" within the country, implying that racial tensions would have gone down if not for the pandemic and the economic decline that came with it.
Trump responded to criticism of his COVID-19 policies by saying that he shut down travel to the U.S. from China and Europe early on. He thus ignored the exceptions he put in place that likely allowed for COVID 19-positive individuals to enter the country. He also dismissed the reality that the U.S. has the world's highest COVID-19 death toll (almost all of which happened after the travel restrictions were put in place) by speculating that the deaths could have been much higher. He even blamed Joe Biden for not implementing a nationwide mask policy.
He doesn't know how to talk to Black women.
Trump's disrespect for Black women and other women of color is well-documented, ranging from his disrespect toward the Squad to his personal attacks against Senator Kamala Harris. When Pittsburgh resident Ajani Powell called him out for downplaying the severity of the coronavirus on Tuesday night, he responded in a most condescending way by saying he took "action, not with the mouth, but in actual fact."
The 45th president even pointed to his mouth to emphasize the point. Later, he attempted to interrupt professor Ellesia Blaque as she asked a question about health care coverage for her preexisting medical conditions. Blaque quickly checked him for trying to cut her off.
Trump proved he couldn't hold a rapport with Black women when he sparred with journalists April Ryan and Yamiche Alcindor in November of 2018.
His ideas around policing reek of Blue lives matter.
Trump used the word "respect" seven times in relation to the police. He said that there needed to be "retribution" for the recent ambush shooting of two LAPD officers. Then he used that same word – retribution – regarding instances of protestors dousing cops with water earlier this summer, as if embarrassing officers was equivalent to shooting them and equally deserved retaliation.
Many of us have known who Trump was for a long time. His supporters have swallowed up his own dismissals of the criticisms against him as "fake news." But during Tuesday's town hall, the public's gloves were off as the reality of the commander-in-chief's true colors were further cemented.