Trump presidency in turmoil after bombshell book, Supreme Court vote
U.S. President Donald Trump looks at his phone during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump held a roundtable discussion with Governors and small business owners on the reopening of Americans small business.
AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images
Trump presidency in turmoil after bombshell book, Supreme Court vote
Sebastian Smith (Agence France-Presse) - June 19, 2020 - 7:48am

WASHINGTON, United States — Donald Trump's presidency was in turmoil Thursday after top ex-aide John Bolton declared him unfit for office in a bombshell book and the Supreme Court blocked a key part of his re-election vow to deport undocumented migrants.

The mounting drama around the Republican's already rocky re-election bid raised the stakes for his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday — the first he will have held since the US coronavirus lockdown began, but mired in controversy over whether it is safe.

Trump's once supremely self-confident march toward a second term was already in a hole due to criticism over his responses to the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide anti-racism protests.

A Supreme Court ruling against his administration's bid to remove protections for hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants classified as "Dreamers" struck another body blow.

Trump's platform rests in large part on his promise to crack down on illegal immigration. His push to get the "Dreamers" deported symbolized that hardline position.

The ruling was doubly stinging because Trump has long boasted that his appointing of two justices succeeded in tilting the nation's top court to the right.

In an outburst on Twitter, Trump called this and other recent rulings he didn't like "shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans."

He also faced a blistering insider attack from Bolton, a lifelong Republican who saw Trump from up close as national security advisor.

"I don't think he's fit for office. I don't think he has the competence to carry out the job," Bolton told ABC News to promote his book, "The Room Where it Happened."

The book — which the White House is trying desperately to get blocked by court order — alleges that Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for re-election help, obstructed justice, and was no match for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Putin thinks he can play him like a fiddle," Bolton told ABC.

Trump, who has assiduously built his image as a president who is tough on China, lashed back at Bolton, calling him a "sick puppy" and dismissing the book as "fiction."

In an apparent bid to underline his tough stance, Trump threatened in a tweet that a "complete decoupling" between the deeply entwined US and Chinese economies is an "option." Just the previous day, his hawkish trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer had told Congress this would be unfeasible. 

'Back on the road'?

On Saturday, Trump will fly to Tulsa to hold his first campaign rally since March.

With his TV show background and natural populist flair, Trump is far happier in front of cheering crowds than in the formal settings of the White House.

He is "very excited to get back on the road," his advisor Kellyanne Conway said.

He'll be hoping that the razzmatazz and the energy of the 20,000 strong crowd will jumpstart his re-election, which polls show him currently losing heavily to Democrat Joe Biden. Even as Americans only slowly ease out of lockdown, several other rallies are already being planned.

Trump is also going to have to hope that he doesn't go down in history as the president who put political rallies ahead of people's lives.

Tulsa is seeing a local spike in coronavirus cases and the city's main newspaper, the state health chief and many others have warned that the huge crowd in an enclosed space could become a viral incubator.

A lawsuit filed in a Tulsa court to try to stop the rally called it a virus "superspreader."

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, said Thursday "it's going to be safe and we're really, really excited." And the Trump campaign says it will take temperatures and distribute masks to rally goers.

Tellingly, though, it is also requiring anyone attending to sign a waiver, making them unable to hold the organizers responsible for getting sick.

Trump's Tulsa rally suffered a further setback when it was scheduled originally for this Friday, which is the June 19th or "Juneteenth" anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States.

Amid soaring racial tensions and anger from civil rights groups at his handling of the police violence protests, that struck the wrong tone and Trump was forced to shift to Saturday.

"Nobody had ever heard of it," he claimed in a Wall Street Journal interview published Thursday. "I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous."

In fact, the White House annually puts out a statement commemorating the occasion, which is also marked by nearly all US states.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 28, 2020 - 11:14am

Monitor updates on the 2020 presidential race in the United States.

October 28, 2020 - 11:14am

Virtual fundraisers with Hollywood and Democratic leaders have combined with powerful anti-Donald Trump sentiment to prompt an unprecedented flood of donations in California -- the nation's wealthiest state, long seen as the party's election cash cow.

As the race for the White House reaches its blockbuster finale, both campaigns are mounting breakneck tours of swing states, and are notably absent in the liberal Golden State where Biden leads Trump by over 30 points.

But while Californians can't sway the race by voting, Democratic insiders say they have never witnessed such an extraordinary boom in fundraising and celebrity activism -- even as a deadly pandemic pushes events online. — AFP

October 24, 2020 - 9:20am

Donald Trump launches an intense last-ditch reelection push in Florida, insisting that COVID-19 is disappearing, while frontrunner Joe Biden hammers his message that the president had abdicated responsibility for a pandemic that is actually surging.

With 50 million people having already cast early ballots, Biden has a firm lead in national polls, as well as in most of the battleground states like Florida that typically decide the winner of US presidential elections.

The drama of the final Trump-Biden televised debate on Thursday was thought unlikely to move the needle significantly. — AFP

October 21, 2020 - 3:30pm

Former president Barack Obama holds his first rally Wednesday in support of US election front runner Joe Biden, while Donald Trump campaigned frantically and accused his opponent, who stayed home in Delaware, of going "into hiding."

Two weeks before the polls, the contrast in campaign strategies between Trump, 74, and Biden, 77, has never been more pronounced: the Republican president led another rally in the battleground state of Pennsylvania Tuesday, while Democrat Biden stayed mostly out of sight ahead of a pivotal televised debate later in the week.

Polls show Biden ahead and, with the clock running down, he appears confident. — AFP

October 17, 2020 - 9:11am

President Donald Trump fights to recover from sinking election polls by campaigning in Florida with a hardline pitch to America's right wing, claiming that his Democratic opponent Joe Biden would deliver communism and a "flood" of criminal immigrants.

While Trump put on a brave face, the fact he was fighting at all for Florida and stumping later Friday in Georgia -- two states he won four years ago -- illustrated how much ground he has to make up against Biden in the 18 days left to the election.

With his polls sliding and US COVID-19 infections spiking, Trump is focusing entirely on his core Republican base, in hopes that highly energized supporters will turn out in huge numbers. — AFP

October 10, 2020 - 12:09pm

The Commission on Presidential Debates says it has cancelled next week's showdown between Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden, after the president said he would not participate in a virtual format.

"Each (candidate) now has announced alternate plans for that date," the commission says in a statement, adding "it is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15."

The move leaves just one more debate on the schedule -- October 22 in Nashville, Tennessee -- before the November 3 election. — AFP

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