Donald Trump, a man best known as a “birther” with a reality TV show and a real estate empire, who claimed that Mexico was sending drugs and rapists to the United States, was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2017. What happened next was predictable and we should expect more of the same in 2018.
Here are seven decisions from the past year confirming that Trump has been the worst president for African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities over the past 50 years.
1. Trump picks Jeff Sessions to succeed Loretta Lynch as attorney general of the U.S. Trump went out of his way to make sure that his administration’s justice policy reflected 1940s America, when he selected Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as his attorney general.
According to a Huffington Post article published in January 2017, Sessions not only supported gutting the Voting Rights Act in 2013, he also has “a record of blocking Black judicial nominees.” Sessions “unsuccessfully prosecuted Black civil rights activists for voter fraud in 1985 — including a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr.”
Since, Sessions has taken over at the Justice Department, he has recused himself from an investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and ordered a review of Obama-era police reforms.
This is one time where the selection of Rudy Giuliani for attorney general may have actually looked like a more moderate choice.
2. Trump says “there were very fine people on both sides” at the Charlottesville White nationalists rally, during a Trump Tower press conference. Never mind that one of the largest gatherings of racists in America since the end of the civil rights movement occurred only eight months into Trump’s presidency. Put that aside. Trump’s “both sides” comments on who was to blame for the public street fight in the college town was all anyone needed to understand regarding the thinking of America’s 45th president on the issue of race.
“I am not putting anybody on a moral plane, what I’m saying is this: you had a group on one side and a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side,” said Trump. “But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”
Trump also said, “I’ve condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there, because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.”
3. Trump calls for NFL owners to fire players over silent protests. Trump said NFL owners should respond to the players by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!” Just in case you missed it with his comments on Charlottesville, Trump was back again to spoil the start of the NFL season by commenting on players who dared to silently protest racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. Trump called kneeling during the anthem, “a total disrespect of our heritage,” and a “total disrespect for everything we stand for.” The result was more protests by NFL players who then locked arms on sidelines across the U.S. with many White players and coaches participating.
Even Rush Limbaugh found himself having issues with Trump on this one.
“There’s a part of this story that’s starting to make me nervous, and it’s this: I am very uncomfortable with the president of the United States being able to dictate the behavior and power of anybody,” Limbaugh said. “That’s not where this should be coming from.”
4. Trump uses an executive order to block travel of refugees from majority-Muslim countries to the U.S. When you have former staffers for Jeff Sessions writing executive orders on immigration policy, you can expect what happened at the Trump White House on Jan. 27, 2017. With absolutely no warning, on the seventh day of his presidency, Trump signed an immigration and travel executive order. This order had Steven Miller’s fingerprints all over it, After a few days of chaos and protests at airports across the nation, federal judges to applied an initial smackdown blocking the order. But Trump’s DOJ revised the order to pass some of those legal tests.
5. Trump launches sham voting commission to investigate “voter fraud.” Since many voting rights advocates agree that Republican-controlled state legislatures cook up the most egregious voting laws, it should have been surprising to no one that former Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach would be a fixture of the Trump administration. Kobach is the vice chairman and “driving force” behind Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Since he’s spent so much time rooting out voter fraud that is all but nonexistent, Kobach was perfect for the job.
According to the Brennan Center, Kobach was the “driving force behind a Kansas law that included both a strict photo ID requirement to vote and proof of citizenship to register — which has blocked thousands of eligible citizens from the polls” and “has repeatedly made extravagant claims of in-person voter fraud or noncitizen voting with little or no evidence.”
After Trump kept repeating the falsehood that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in 2016, everyone knew this was coming. Hillary Clinton won 3 million more votes than Trump, so a “voting integrity” commission was a given.
6. Trump pardons former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The Bull Connor of his era, Arpaio was sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., for 24 years. According to one DOJ expert, Arpaio oversaw “the worst pattern of racial profiling by a law enforcement agency in U.S. history.” Trump was perfectly consistent in his anti-immigrant rhetoric of 2016 in pardoning Arpaio on Aug. 25, 2017, from a conviction for criminal contempt of court. Trump just couldn’t resist another opportunity to give a wink of approval to the right wing.
7. Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Instead of nominating a Black woman to replace Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, President Obama picked someone whose nomination no one cared about or would rally around (the instantly unexciting Merrick Garland). With that, the deal was done. The selection of Garland easily allowed the Republican-controlled Senate to ignore Obama’s pick and run out the clock out, opening the door for Trump to select Neil Gorsuch, who has “voted 100 percent of the time with the court’s most conservative member, Clarence Thomas, according to SCOTUSblog,” NPR reported.
Burke can be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter @LVBurke.