The episode encapsulated Trump’s approach to the presidency and to this time of national crisis, which has upended nearly every aspect of American life and put his November reelection prospects at risk. He’s latched on to personal grievances and cast himself as a victim, while making only occasional references to the staggering loss of life across the country. He’s willingly stoked partisan divisions over public health, and now racial divisions in the face of a death, rather than seeking opportunities to pull the nation together.
To Trump’s detractors, none of that should come as a surprise at this late stage in his term, which has been defined by such responses at volatile moments.
“I had hoped that at least for this one time, some of the president’s advisers would get to him and try to convince him to be consoler-in-chief,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri. “President Trump was not built for times like this.”
Many Republicans were silent about the president’s remarks.