Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville doubled down Friday on his prediction that President Trump may yet abandon his run for reelection when confronted with poll numbers showing that he is danger of getting swamped in an electoral “tsunami” that might rival Herbert Hoover’s 1932 landslide defeat to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In an interview on the Yahoo News podcast Skullduggery, Carville said Trump’s political standing appears to be in virtual free fall, as Republicans are increasingly panicked that he will cost them control of the Senate.
“This is not a party that is falling apart. This is a party that has already fallen apart,” said Carville about the state of the GOP. “And Trump is going to have to come to grips with [deciding] ‘am I better off saying I’m not running and coming back in 2024 … or getting the living crap beat out of me.’ ”
Carville first started raising the possibility that Trump might leave the 2020 race reelection in commentary and TV appearances earlier this month.
But he expanded on his predicted (and hoped for) scenario in the Skullduggery interview.
“He’s going to conclude with Jared [Kushner] that his brand is worth more resigning than it is getting destroyed — and when I say destroyed I mean 1932 destroyed,” Carville said, referring to the 1932 election during the depths of the Great Depression when Roosevelt crushed President Hoover, capturing 472 electoral votes to Hoover’s 59.
As it now stands, Trump is scheduled to accept the Republican nomination at the (now largely virtual) Republican National Convention, which is one month away.
To be sure, Carville, who was one of the top political strategists for Bill Clinton, is an intensely partisan Democrat who relishes trying to demoralize his adversaries with unabashed political spin. He is also consulting with an independent-expenditure Democratic group, American Bridge, that he says is planning to spend $90 million this fall aimed at cutting Trump’s margin in counties he carried in 2016 in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
His prediction came on a day that new poll numbers showed Trump’s standing in key swing states falling precipitously. A Fox News poll released Friday showed that Trump is behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 11 points in Pennsylvania and nine points in Michigan — both states Trump carried in his narrow victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday had Trump down 13 points in Florida — a state the president cannot afford to lose.
Carville’s comments also came the day after Trump was forced to scrap his plans to hold next month’s Republican convention in Jacksonville, Florida, in light of the soaring rise in the number of coronavirus cases and COVID-19-related deaths in the state. Although Trump said he was forced to make that difficult decision in order to “protect” the American people, Carville noted that Trump’s retreat on the convention will only hurt him with his hard-core base — a group that has tended to dismiss the dangers from the virus and stuck with the president because they view him as defiant and unbowed.
“The number to look for [in the polls] is ‘strong leader,’ ” Carville said. “That’s always been what’s propped him up. A couple of Democratic pollsters are saying, ‘We’re starting to see a decline in the strong leader number.’ ’’
Trump’s decision to back down on holding the Jacksonville convention will only chip away at those numbers even more.
It would be bad enough for the GOP if that had been a temporary setback. But with the prospect of a second straight collapse in the suburbs this year, it is beginning to look like a wholesale retreat.
“We can’t give up more ground in the suburbs nationally without having a real problem for our party,” said Charles Hellwig, a former chair of the Republican Party in Wake County, N.C., describing a landscape in which “every year, every month, every day, we get a little bluer.”
It is the same story in suburbs everywhere. In a Fox News poll last weekend, Trump was trailing Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, by 11 percentage points in the suburbs. An ABC News/Washington Post poll had Trump down 9 percentage points there — larger margins in the suburbs than exit polls have recorded since the 1980s, when Republicans were winning there by double digits.
That polling reflects a dramatic swing from 2016, when Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the suburbs by 4 percentage points. Trump’s erosion in the suburbs is a major reason the electoral map this year has expanded for Democrats in recent weeks — with Trump in danger not only of losing, but of taking the Senate down with him. And demographic shifts are only becoming more favorable to Democrats. The suburbs are rapidly growing, and by 2018, according to Pew, people of color made up nearly a third of suburban population.
“The movement of suburban voters, particularly educated women and millennials being so progressive in their politics, increased voting participating among Latinos, African Americans,” said Bill Carrick, a Democratic strategist who managed Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt’s 1988 presidential campaign. “That all contributes to this geography: Suddenly, we’ve got Georgia and Texas and Florida and Arizona, Iowa. There’s a lot of places in play.”
Trump’s damage in the suburbs has come primarily, as it has elsewhere, from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But Trump’s response to the George Floyd protests also appears to have hurt him in the suburbs — his militant reaction crashing into an electorate that is less white and insular than it was half a century ago, when Richard Nixon made “law and order” rhetoric work.
Trump’s intervention in Portland, Ore., has drawn more people into the streets, not fewer — including clashes between not only the Trump administration and antifa, but a “wall of moms.”
Comparing new voter registration in 17 states from immediately before the Floyd protests began to the week after, the Democratic data firm TargetSmart found that young people and people of color were registering at higher rates than before — with years to cast ballots for Democrats still ahead of them.
In Ohio, voters under 25 accounted for 34 percent of new registrants in the first week of June, up from about 23 percent the previous week, said Tom Bonier, TargetSmart’s CEO. He saw similar trends in North Carolina, and even in heavily Republican states like Missouri and Oklahoma.
“Literally every state you’re seeing these increases, which is not something we saw in 2018,” Bonier said. “It’s interesting to see how the demonstrations in cities around the country are playing. … Suburban voters seem to be more sympathetic to those demonstrations than they ever have been in the past.”
When Americans were asked in the ABC News/Washington Post poll who they trusted more to handle issues surrounding crime and safety, they preferred Biden to Trump 50 percent to 41 percent.
Ed Bruley, chair of the Democratic Party in Michigan’s working-class suburbs of Macomb County, said even compared with four or five years ago, voters in his county have become more sensitive to issues of racial justice, in large part because of the proliferation of video, such as Floyd’s death.
“With the videos nowadays,” he said, “everyone can now have an emotional experience about this. It’s no longer academic.”
Former Republican Rep. Ryan Costello, who represented the Philadelphia suburbs, said in the Floyd protests, “There was an opportunity in the riots and defund police-type stuff.”
However, he said, “I just think these things happen so fast that ultimately Trump becomes the story again.” The president would have fared better, he said, if the focus had remained on “what the left is doing,” not Trump, who he said “has deteriorated in the suburbs.”
Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump’s reelection effort, said polls that show Trump struggling in the suburbs oversample Democrats or undersample Republicans — and that in the campaign’s own polling, Trump “remains strong” in a race in which the Trump campaign is only beginning to define Biden.
Several Republican Party officials said in recent days that they suspect Murtaugh is right. In North Carolina, Hellwig said he expects Trump’s public safety appeals will ultimately resonate with suburban voters, inviting them to associate Democrats with “the worst things that are happening across the country in terms of the violence and the protests becoming riots.”
It’s as though in January 2017, Donald Trump was given a shiny, new car. The best, most beautiful car the world has ever seen. And in July 2020, the president made an important discovery about it.
It has a reverse gear.
It was an extra on the car he never thought he’d need – and certainly never intended to use. But on Monday, he put the car into reverse, and wrestle as he might with the gearstick and clutch, he now can’t stop the blasted thing from going backwards.
Or to change the metaphor – and borrow the language used this week by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to describe his Labour opponent – from the president this week there have been more flip-flops than Bournemouth beach.
Just to recap, masks – which the president used to deride as “politically correct” – are now an act of patriotism, and should always be worn when social distancing is impossible. Coronavirus, which until recently was being described in most instances as a bad case of the sniffles, is now something altogether more serious – and it is going to get worse before it gets better.
Two weeks ago the president was insisting that all schools had to reopen, or he would take away their funding. He’s now saying that, for some of the worst hit cities, that wouldn’t be appropriate – and appears much more empathetic towards parents wrestling with the decision about whether to allow their children resume in school education.
And the really big U-turn came last night on the Republican Convention in Jacksonville, Florida.
The president loves a crowd. A raucous, adoring crowd. The original plan had been to hold the event in Charlotte, North Carolina. But when the governor of that state said there would have to be social distancing, the president went ballistic, went after the governor, and announced huffily that the Republicans would go somewhere else. Jacksonville would be the venue for the tickertape and hoopla, and thousands of cheering and whooping Republicans.
Except it won’t be now.
It was a stunning and painful reverse, and one the president made with the heaviest of hearts.
The announcements have come on three consecutive nights of revitalised White House coronavirus briefings. In this iteration with the president flying solo, and not flanked by his medical advisers. But they have also been much more disciplined than when the president would spend a couple of hours at the lectern, musing on anything and everything – most memorably on whether disinfectant and sunlight should be injected into the body to treat coronavirus.
I was at that memorable briefing with the president, and I was back again for his briefing this Wednesday. This time around he was in and out in less than half an hour, stuck to the messages he wanted to deliver (OK, no-one had anticipated the bizarre foray into the legal difficulties facing Ghislaine Maxwell), and answered a handful of questions. He didn’t get riled. He didn’t get into fights. He did what he came to do. And then off.
All I would say is that Season 2 is nothing like as much fun as Season 1 – though the episodes are much shorter.
I sat discussing this one evening this week in the garden of someone closely involved in the doings of the administration. It was an insufferably humid evening and the thunder rolled around the city. We spent a time discussing the psychology of the president (yes, a common topic). And this person was making the point that he has an old-fashioned macho need never to appear weak. Even though he knows at times it would be smart to give ground and concede, that is unconscionable.
But if we are still playing pop psychology with the president’s brain – whose cognitive strengths we now all know: person, man, woman, camera, TV – there is one thing worse than being weak, and that is being a loser.
And though in public – for fear of looking weak – the president insists his campaign is winning, and the American people love him, and polls that show him sinking underwater are fake news, the reality is altogether more uncomfortable.
Let’s just take Florida, where Trump was to have made his Convention acceptance speech. It is the epicentre at the moment of the appalling surge in coronavirus cases. With its population of 21 million, last week it was diagnosing more new cases per day than the whole of the European Union (population 460 million). But Florida is also ground zero for US presidential elections. Just think Bush versus Gore in 2000.
It was a state Trump won comfortably in 2016. It was a state he thought he would breeze in November. But the latest Quinnipiac University poll has Democratic nominee Joe Biden 13 points ahead. Thirteen. That is massive. And there is a whole pile of other key swing states which show President Trump lagging behind.
What hasn’t changed in the past week is the science. You can be sure that his long-suffering public health advisors have been banging on about the same things like a broken gramophone. Masks, distancing, avoiding crowds. It may be that the president has had a Damascene conversion to listening to his doctors. Possible, but I have to say unlikely.
If we’re looking for a significant “thing” it is this. Last week, Trump fired his 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and installed a new one. And it appears Bill Stepien has sat the president down and given him the ice cold bucket of water. That the polls are awful, and going in the wrong direction; that all is not lost but quickly could spin out of control. That a change of direction and tone is urgently needed. Particularly when it comes to anything and everything to do with Covid-19.
It is worth inserting one proviso here. I don’t know Bill Stepien – although he gets very good reviews. But brilliant though he maybe, there is a bit of a pattern of the president making a new appointment, and then for the next two or three weeks he does what he is told – but then reverts to going with his gut; going with his instinct. The things that he will tell you have served him best throughout his long and colourful career. But we are in new territory.
For three and a half years the president has been able to define his own reality; to bend and fashion facts to suit his own narrative. The coronavirus has been unimpressed by his efforts. This has been a foe like none that Donald Trump has faced. And he has had to bend to its will. Not the other way round.
What has happened this week is that what the polls are showing and what his scientists have been repeatedly calling for are totally aligned. And he really doesn’t want to be a loser in November.
The spectre of these 180s has brought much guffawing from liberal commentators. The man who only knows how to double down, now doubled up in the pain of these very public reverses. Oh happy days.
But they should be more cautious. The conversion may be insincere; may well be borne of polling necessity – but what a lot of Americans will see is their president behaving rationally and normally; making decisions consistent with the scale of the threat the American people are facing – and Americans are fearing. But, I hear you say, surely they won’t forget about all those things the president said in March and April when he played the pandemic down and urged the reopening of the US economy prematurely?
Well, all I would say is that the circus moves on quickly; everyone seems to have incredibly short memories. Who talks any more about Mueller? Or Russia? Or impeachment? The beam of the lighthouse doesn’t stay long in any one place. With our impatience for new developments, for new story lines, for plot twists, we seem to suffer collectively from attention deficit disorder. And this president understands that better than anyone.
Some will no doubt write that this has been the president’s worst week ever. If he wins in November it will come to be seen as his best.
A bill to removestatues of Confederate leaders and figures who advocated for white supremacy from the Capitol passed the House on a bipartisan vote Wednesday, The New York Times reported.
The House voted 305-to-113 to remove the statues as part of a broad effort to take symbols of racism out of public spaces, the Times reported. The legislation was introduced by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.
“These painful symbols of bigotry and racism—they have no place in our society, and certainly should not be enshrined in the United States Capitol,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., co-sponsor of the bill, said, the Times reported.
“It’s past time that we end the glorification of men who committed treason against the United States in a concerted effort to keep African Americans in chains.”
Today I voted to remove confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol. The U.S. Capitol should be reserved for pieces of art that inspire and unite us as a nation.
The legislation explicitly named five statues to be removed from the Capitol, and would require “all statues of individuals who voluntarily served” the Confederacy to be removed, the Times reported.
State leaders are the only leaders authorized by federal law to replace statues in the Capitol, and each state is permitted to have two statues displayed in the National Statuary Hall collection, the Times reported.
Though the legislation is unlikely to be put to a vote in the Senate, 72 House Republicans voted in favor of the bill, the Times reported.
“The history of this nation is so fraught with racial division, with hatred,” Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., said, the Times reported. “The only way to overcome that is to recognize that, acknowledge it for what it is.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the move was “clearly a bridge too far” and an effort to “airbrush the Capitol,” the Times reported. McConnell said the states should decide what statues are displayed in the Capitol, however, he advocated a statue of Jefferson Davis be moved from the Kentucky State Capitol to a museum in 2015, according to the Times.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had four portraits of former speakers removed from outside of the House chamber last month because they represented the Confederacy, the Times reported.
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US President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen has been released from prison after a judge ruled he was sent back to jail in retaliation for writing a tell-all book.
The judge ordering his release said the government was retaliating when it sent Cohen back to prison this month.
He had been released in May over Covid-19 concerns.
Cohen was serving a three-year sentence for charges including Trump campaign finance violations.
Cohen is expected to be fitted with an ankle tag and will serve the rest of the sentence at home in New York City.
“He looked exhausted, as one might think, when you come out of quarantine/solitary confinement,” his attorney, Jeffrey Levine, told the Reuters news agency after speaking to Cohen over FaceTime from the car.
“He hasn’t slept in two weeks.”
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Cohen was convicted last year of crimes including tax evasion, lying to Congress and facilitating illegal payments to silence two women – pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who claimed they had affairs with Mr Trump.
After his May release, authorities this month said Cohen violated the terms of his release.
Cohen argued his re-arrest was retaliation for his plans to publish a critical book about Donald Trump.
He said that probation officers had asked him to sign a release agreement that would prohibit him from speaking to, or through, any media. When he questioned this order, he was taken back into custody.
US Judge Alvin Hellerstein issued the ruling during a tele-hearing on Thursday.
He said that Cohen’s return to jail was “retaliatory because of his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book and to discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media and with others”.
The Manhattan judge added that, in 21 years on the bench, he had never seen such a provision for a prisoner. “How can I take any other inference but that it was retaliatory?”
Cohen was re-arrested on 9 July – days after he tweeted that he was “close to completion” of his tell-all book relating to the president. The book reportedly details alleged racist comments made by Mr Trump.
This week, Cohen had sued US Attorney General William Barr and the prison bureau director over the so-called “gag order”.
The suit, brought by Cohen’s attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), claimed that Cohen’s re-jailing over the order violated his constitutional right to free speech.
According to court filings, Cohen’s book would provide “graphic and unflattering details about the President’s behaviour behind closed doors”, including descriptions of his “pointedly anti-Semitic remarks and virulently racist remarks” against former President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.
The White House has not yet commented on these allegations.
In ten very satisfying minutes yesterday, New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) wiped the House floor clean with Tea Party Republican Ted Yoho. Ocasio-Cortez’s response to the Florida representative’s recent misogynistic comments (and his subsequent non-apology) was much more than a liberal “lesson in decency.” It was a blistering, eloquent indictment of an entire edifice of societal chauvinism and workplace harassment in the United States — and proof, once again, of the benefit of having democratic socialists in office.
Earlier this week, Yoho — who recently voted against making lynching a hate crime — told Ocasio-Cortez she was “disgusting,” “crazy,” and “dangerous” on the steps of the Capitol for her comments linking crime rates to poverty. He then called her a “fucking bitch” in front of the press. On Wednesday morning on the House floor, Yoho recited a non-apology for the “abrupt manner” in which he spoke to Ocasio-Cortez, while explaining that he “cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family, and my country.”
On Thursday morning, AOC tore Yoho to shreds. But more to the point, she went after the societal norms that accept misogyny. “This is not new,” she said, speaking on the House floor. “And that is the problem.” Ocasio-Cortez recounted the harassment that she faced when she waited tables and tended bars. She went on to explain: “This issue is not about one incident. It is cultural. It is a culture of. . . . impunity, of accepting violence and violent language against women and an entire structure of power that supports that.”
AOC decried Yoho’s use of his wife and daughters as shields to deflect criticism from his sexist behavior, pointing out that she, too, is somebody’s daughter. “This harm that Mr Yoho tried to levy at me was not just directed at me. When you do that to any woman, what Mr Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters. . . . I am here to say, that is not acceptable.”
Compare AOC’s response to the years of liberal feminism that pleaded to keep abortion safe, legal, and rare. Or to Biden’s absurd proclamation that Donald Trump is the country’s first racist president. The mainstream Democratic Party approach to right-wing fanaticism is to go on the defensive, or to personalize the issue as though the problems of the world can be chalked up to Trump’s psychosis, Russian interference, or particularly insidious right-wing Republicans.
Democratic socialist politicians like AOC instead focus attention on deeper structures of inequality and oppression, which have given power and platforms to people like Ted Yoho. Ocasio-Cortez noted that she had no personal beef with Yoho — the fact that his outburst is common is the real problem. Rather than simply defending herself from attack, she went on the offensive — amplifying the experience of millions of women, and framing it within an analysis of sexism and misogyny.
Just as Bernie Sanders mainstreamed previously fringe demands like Medicare for All, and Ilhan Omar brought anti-imperialism to the halls of Congress, AOC is helping to popularize a leftist feminism — and perhaps even giving confidence to more and more people to act on it.
Explosive documents were released yesterday detailing a June 2016 defensive briefing given to then-Republican candidate Donald Trump, former national security advisor Michael Flynn and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — Sara Carter appeared on Hannity last night to discuss the news and how it reveals the extent to which the Trump campaign was spied on.
“These documents are explosive,” Carter reported. “It was 2016 and here’s Joe Pientka debriefing basically Trump, Governor Christie, and Michael Flynn. And then in January, he goes back to the White House with Peter Strzok— he’s the one that’s interviewing Michael Flynn.”
Carter explained how higher-ups, including President Obama himself, were giving directives on the spying directed at the Trump campaign.
Carter said Strzok, Pientka, and others were “directed by people above them. That is Andrew McCabe, that’s James Comey, and that’s those folks that were at the White House. Including the President, who knew everything that was going on.”
Hannity noted Obama needs to answer to these questions.
To read Sara’s breaking report on the declassified Trump, Flynn defensive briefing, click here.
President Trump has vehemently opposed mail-in voting for the 2020 election, warning repeatedly of a rigged process.
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“Rigged 2020 election,” he wrote in June. “Millions of mail-in ballots will be printed by foreign countries and others. It will be the scandal of our times!”
Just days ago he tweeted, “Mail-In voting, unless changed by the courts, will lead to the most CORRUPT ELECTION in our Nation’s History!”
He added the hashtag ‘#RIGGEDELECTION.’
Trump told Fox News reporter Chris Wallace that he would “have to see” whether or not he’d be willing to accept the election results, noting Democrats and Hillary Clinton still have yet to accept the results from 2016.
CHRIS WALLACE: “Can you give a direct answer you will accept the election?”
TRUMP: “I have to see. Look, you — I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say ‘yes.’ I’m not going to say ‘no,’ and I didn’t last time either.” pic.twitter.com/7KyUtd0vqj
It isn’t just President Trump who opposes mail-in ballots based on the possibility of introducing fraud to the election.
Attorney General William Barr also suggested to Fox News that mail-in voting “absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud.”
“Right now, a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots, and be very hard for us to detect which was the right and which was the wrong ballot,” Barr explained. “So, I think … it can upset and undercut the confidence in the integrity of our elections.”
AG Barr is right.
Large scale mail-in voting “absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud.”
“Beijing recognizes its efforts might affect the presidential race,” Evanina said, by “expanding its influence efforts to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and counter criticism” of Beijing.
Russia’s “persistent objective is to weaken the United States and diminish our global role,” Evanina stated, through a “range of efforts,” like internet trolls, to spread disinformation that is “designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process and denigrate what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment’ in America.”
Iran, likewise, has centered its efforts around online influence operations, such as spreading disinformation on social media and pushing anti-American content, to “undermine U.S. democratic institutions and divide the country in advance of the elections,” Evanina warned.
The warning comes a week after Joe Biden, citing intelligence briefings that he is now receiving, warned that Russia and China are both actively trying to sow doubt in the country’s electoral system.
“We know from before and I guarantee you I know now because now I get briefings again,” the presumptive Democratic nominee said during a fundraiser. “The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. Fact.”
China and others “are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome,” Biden added.
While it’s unclear exactly what kind of intelligence briefings Biden has received, he may have been referring to sessions on election security threats led by Evanina, whom ODNI earlier this year made the point for such intel-based briefings.
Evanina, and Shelby Pierson, the intelligence community’s election-threats executive, provided a classified briefing to the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday about the latest election threat landscape, two people familiar with the meeting told POLITICO.
Evanina’s warning also arrived the same week Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, the chief of U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA, reiterated that his top priority is defending November’s election from foreign interference.
“Our No. 1 objective at the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command is safe, secure and legitimate 2020 elections,” Nakasone said during a webinar hosted by the Association of the United States Army.
“Much like 2018, we’re going to know our adversaries better than they know themselves,” Nakasone said. “We’re going to act when we see adversaries attempting to interfere in our elections.”
The attack knocked the organization — which has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government— offline on Election Day and for several days afterward to prevent it from spreading disinformation as Americans went to the polls.
Evanina’s statement didn’t address Trump’s spurious claims that mail-in voting is an attempt to rig the election.
Instead, he stressed that the public “has a role to play in securing the election” by being vigilant about influence attempts.
“At the most basic level, we encourage Americans to consume information with a critical eye, check out sources before reposting or spreading messages, practice good cyber hygiene and media literacy, and report suspicious election-related activity to authorities,” Evanina said.
He added: “As Americans, we are all in this together; our elections should be our own. Foreign efforts to influence or interfere with our elections are a direct threat to the fabric of our democracy.”
President Trump is hopeful that players will stand during the national anthem when he takes the pitcher’s mound next month at Yankee Stadium.
The president revealed during a White House coronavirus briefing on Thursday that he spoke to Yankees President Randy Levine about throwing out the first pitch Aug. 15 when the Yankees take on the Red Sox.
“Randy Levine’s a great friend of mine from the Yankees” he said. “He asked me to throw out the first pitch. And I think I’m doing that on August 15 at Yankee Stadium.”
Later Thursday, during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump again said he would be taking part in the longstanding tradition but noted that he hoped that players would stand during the national anthem.
“It’s great that baseball is back, and other sports are back. I hope everyone’s standing; I hope they’re not going to be kneeling when the flag is raised. I don’t like to see that,” he said. “That would hurt a lot of people in our country. They don’t want to see that with the NFL, or baseball, or basketball, or anything else.”
He continued: “There are plenty of places you can protest. You don’t have to protest on the raising of our flag.”
The president’s comments came shortly after every player and coach on the Washington Nationals and Yankees took a knee and held a black ribbon before the national anthem. They stood when the “Star-Spangled Banner” was played.
Trump said earlier in the week after several MLB players knelt during the national anthem before exhibition games that he would not be tuning in to live sports if players protested the flag.
“Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!” he said in a tweet.
The reaction to Trump’s first pitch will be interesting. A former high school baseball player, Trump should have an easier time than Dr. Anthony Fauci, who botched the first pitch ahead of Thursday’s game.
A big Nationals fan, Fauci was asked to take part in the ceremonial pitch, which landed just outside the strike zone.