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On day one, Biden moves to undo Trump’s legacy

WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will launch a full-scale assault on his predecessor’s legacy on Wednesday, acting hours after being sworn in to wipe out President Trump’s pandemic response, reverse his environmental agenda, demolish its anti-immigration policies, reinforce the slow economic recovery and re-establish federal efforts to promote diversity.

Moving with an urgency no other modern president sees, Mr Biden will sign 17 Oval Office decrees, memoranda and proclamations on Wednesday afternoon, according to the president’s senior political advisers.

Individually, the actions target what the new president sees as specific and egregious abuse by Mr. Trump over four tumultuous years. Collectively, his advisers have said that Mr Biden’s assertive use of executive authority was meant to be a significant and visible down payment on one of his main goals as president: for, as they said Tuesday, “reverse the most serious damage” caused to the country by Mr. Trump.

“We don’t have a second to waste in dealing with the crises we face as a nation,” Mr. Biden said Tuesday evening on Twitter after arriving in Washington the day before his inauguration. “That’s why after taking the oath tomorrow, I’m going to get to work.”

Mr. Biden’s actions largely fall into four broad categories that his staff have described as the “converging crises” he will inherit at noon Wednesday: the pandemic, economic struggles, immigration and diversity issues, and the environment and climate change.

In some cases, Mr. Biden plans to unilaterally and immediately rescind the policies and procedures Mr. Trump has put in place. In other cases, the limits of his authority force the new president to lead other members of his administration to take action or even to begin what could be a long process of moving the federal government in a new direction.

“A new day,” Jeff Zients, Mr Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, said Tuesday. “A new and different approach to managing the country’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.”

One of Mr Biden’s first actions on Wednesday will be to sign an executive order making Mr Zients the official coordinator of the government’s Covid-19 response, reporting to the president. The order will also re-establish leadership for global health security and biodefense in the National Security Council, a group that Mr. Trump disbanded.

Mr Biden will also sign an executive order that Mr Trump had steadfastly refused to issue during his tenure – imposing a national mandate requiring masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands, and by all employees federal officials, officials said. And it will end Mr. Trump’s efforts to quit the World Health Organization, sending Dr.Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, to attend the annual board meeting. of the group on Thursday.

Aides said many of Mr. Biden’s actions on Wednesday were aimed at overturning Mr. Trump’s toughest immigration policies.

He will sign an executive order revoking the Trump administration’s plan to exclude non-citizens from the census count and a second order to strengthen the deferred action program for child arrivals that protects “dreamers” from the ‘expulsion. Mr. Trump had sought for years to end the program, known as DACA.

Mr Biden will repeal two Trump-era proclamations that banned travel to the United States from several predominantly Muslim and African countries, ending one of his predecessor’s early actions to limit immigration. The advisers said Mr Biden would ask the State Department to develop ways to address the harm done to those who have been prevented from traveling to the United States because of the ban.

Another executive order will revoke the enhanced enforcement of immigration violations targeting people already inside the United States. Another will block the deportation of Liberians who lived in the United States. And another will halt construction of Mr. Trump’s border wall – which was designed to prevent immigrants from entering the country – while Mr. Biden’s administration examines the legality of the wall’s funding and its contracts to construction.

“We believe we can take action to immediately reverse elements of Trump’s policy that were deeply inhumane and did not reflect our country’s values,” said Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, “While sending a message, a credible and clear signal that now is not the time to arrive at the southwest border because our ability to cross that border is extremely limited. “

Mr Biden, who takes office after a year of racial upheaval in the country, will act quickly on Wednesday to begin unraveling some of Mr Trump’s policies he sees as contributing to polarization and division, according to his senior adviser in domestic politics. .

Susan Rice, who will head the president’s Home Policy Council, said Mr. Biden would sign a general executive order to compel all federal agencies to make fairness a central factor in their work. The order will, among other things, require them to provide a report within 200 days on how to remove barriers to opportunity in policies and programs.

Mr. Biden will call on federal agencies to conduct reviews aimed at eliminating systemic discrimination in their policies and reversing historic discrimination in the safety net and other federal spending, Rice said. And it will start a working group on federal data collection based on diversity.

“The president-elect has promised to eliminate systemic racism from our institutions,” Rice told reporters on Tuesday. “And this initiative is a first step in this historic work. Achieving racial justice will require the administration to take a comprehensive approach to mainstreaming equity into all aspects of policy development and decision-making. “

Another executive order will require the federal government not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, a policy that overrides Mr. Trump administration’s action. Another will overturn a Trump executive order that limited the ability of federal government agencies to use diversity and inclusion training.

And Mr. Biden will overturn Mr. Trump’s 1776 Commission, which on Monday released a report that historians have misrepresented the history of slavery in the United States.

Many of Mr. Trump’s most important actions as president were aimed at limiting environmental regulation and withdrawing from efforts to address climate change. Mr. Biden’s first actions as president will target these policies, officials said.

On Wednesday, he will sign a letter indicating that the United States will join the Paris climate accords, canceling Mr. Trump’s departure from the world organization.

He will then sign an executive order beginning the process of overturning environmental policies under the Trump administration, including rescinding cancellations of vehicle emissions standards; the imposition of a moratorium on oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; the revocation of the license for the Keystone XL pipeline; and the re-establishment of a working group on the social costs of greenhouse gases.

“The Day 1 Climate Executive Orders will begin to put the United States back on the right foot, a base we need to restore American leadership, by helping to position our nation as the world leader in clean energy and jobs, ”said Gina McCarthy, Mr. Biden’s National Climate Advisor.

As he pledged during the campaign, Biden will also take several steps on Wednesday to help Americans grapple with the continued financial hardships brought on by the pandemic, in some cases reversing policies adopted by his predecessor.

It will extend a federal moratorium on evictions and ask agencies, including the departments of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, to extend a moratorium on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages. Extensions would all work until the end of March.

Another order targets Americans with heavy student debt, continuing to pause on federal student loan interest and principal repayments until the end of September.

Progressive groups and some Congressional Democrats, including Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who will become majority leader on Wednesday, had pushed Mr. Biden to act even more aggressively and act on day one to cancel up to $ 50,000 per student debt person. Instead, Biden’s aides renewed his campaign call for Congress to act to write off up to $ 10,000 in individual student debt.

As some of his predecessors have done, Mr Biden will sign an executive order intended to set ethical standards for those who serve in his administration. Aides said he would also order all of his executive appointees to sign an ethical pledge.

Mr Biden will also freeze any new regulations put in place by his predecessor to give his administration time to assess which ones should go ahead – if any.

Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary, said the executive actions Mr Biden took on Wednesday would be followed by a steady stream of others almost daily.

“President-elect Biden will continue to act over the next 10 days – and throughout his term – to address the four crises he has referred to,” Psaki said. “In the days and weeks to come, we will be announcing additional executive actions to address these challenges and deliver on the President-elect’s promises to the American people, including the revocation of the ban on military service by transgender Americans.

Jim tankersley contribution to reports.

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Biden announces broad plan to reverse Trump’s immigration policies

Ms Praeli, a former undocumented immigrant from Peru who became a citizen in 2015, said that “11 million of us live and work every day”.

“We are raising families in communities without any protection against deportation and family separation, vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in the workplace,” she added. “So it’s high time for real change.”

Ms Praeli and other activists have said they will demand Mr Biden reject attempts to water down his immigration proposals as he passes the legislation through Congress.

“We need a clear and unapologetic intervention in the direction the country is heading,” said Greisa Martinez, an undocumented immigrant who is the executive director of United We Dream, a group that has pushed to protect the Dreamers from the deportation. “The time is over for compromises. Now is the time for a bold change. Our movement and our power are undeniable. Our demands are undeniable. We are ready.”

As transitional officials have described, Mr Biden’s legislation would profoundly reshape America’s immigration system, making it more generous to current immigrants and people from other parts of the world while rejecting anti-rhetoric. immigrants that Mr. Trump has spoken out since he became presidential candidate in 2015.

And it will kick off a controversial new debate on how the United States should treat foreigners, an issue that has been at the center of the rift between the two sides for decades. While Democrats tightly control both houses of Congress, Mr. Biden will need bipartisan cooperation, especially in the Senate, where most laws require 60 votes. Because Democrats only hold 50 seats in the chamber, the new president will need 10 Republicans to support his efforts to get him into law.

Mr. Obama was successful in persuading 68 senators, including 14 Republicans, to support a comprehensive immigration bill in 2013, to put an end to the effort in the Republican-controlled House. Now, with the Democrats in charge of the House, the challenge for Mr. Biden will be in the Senate, where nearly all Republicans who have backed Mr. Obama have left.

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Melania Trump’s legacy: faux pas, mystery and, in the end, absence

“I find it shameful that around these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks and deceptive false accusations against me – from people who seek to be relevant and who have an agenda,” he said. Ms. Trump wrote in a statement posted on the White House Official Site.

On Monday, Ms. Trump struck a different tone in what amounted to a farewell video. She promoted her time as first lady and her fledgling platform, Be Best, once again calling on the rest of the country to stand up for ideals her husband spent four years ignoring.

“Take every opportunity to show consideration for another person,” Ms. Trump said. “In all circumstances, I ask every American to be an ambassador for Be Best. Focus on what unites us, rise above what divides us, always choose love over hate, peace over violence and others above yourself.

Friends of Ms Trump say she is a better person than the country has ever seen, who has at times tried unsuccessfully to exert a moderating influence over her husband and has been angered by the way he handled their last months at the White House.

“Melania is and will continue to be the most popular Trump,” Kellyanne Conway, former adviser to the president, said in an interview. “She will use her platform for the good of others. As the first lady, she was fully engaged, but not overexposed. There remains a curiosity and a mystery around her.

But publicly, she showed a side that critics said could be incredibly callous and, like her husband, dramatically feel sorry for herself. In 2018, as she returned from a visit to a Texas border town to meet detained migrant children, Ms. Trump made what turned out to be her most explicit fashion statement, wearing a jacket emblazoned with the phrase: “I don’t care. From where? “

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Trump’s latest wave of pardons includes names pushed by supporters of criminal justice reform.

President Trump, during his one tenure alone, used the power of mercy on behalf of convicted liars and crooked politicians, some of whom were his friends. But the long list of pardons his team has put together for him to sign his last full day in office includes the names of people serving life sentences on drug or fraud charges and who for years have sought clemency.

In the past, the administration has emphasized leniency towards low-level offenders to blunt criticism that Mr. Trump inappropriately offered pardons to people with whom he had personal connections. . Tuesday’s group includes non-violent offenders whose names have been spreading for years among lawyers who believe their punishments never match their crimes and whose cases underscore the broken nature of the country’s criminal justice system.

The names were recommended by a group that included Alice Johnson, who worked with # Cut50, a prisoner advocacy group, and Mark Holden, a former Koch Industries executive. Ms Johnson herself was granted full pardon after speaking on Mr Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention and continued to personally lobby Mr Trump and his family members over their cases. The Department of Justice’s pardoning attorney’s office was left out of the process, as was typical in Trump’s White House.

Among those pardoned on Tuesday, according to those directly involved in the process, is Darrell Frazier, who has served more than 30 years of a life sentence for drug conspiracy. During his incarceration, Darrell founded the Joe Johnson Tennis Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports children in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Craig Cesal is serving a life sentence without parole on a marijuana charge. “My crime was that my truck repair business in Chicago repaired trucks operated by a Florida long-haul trucking company whose drivers smuggled marijuana down south,” he told the Washington Post in 2016.

Lavonne Roach, a non-violent offender, is serving a 30-year sentence after being charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Ms. Roach, a Lakota Sioux, has been in prison since 1994.

Chalana McFarland was sentenced in 2005 to 30 years on several counts of mortgage fraud. She was sent to prison when her daughter was 4 years old. Since July, she has been serving her sentence at home over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in Florida prisons.

Michael Pelletier, a paraplegic who has used a wheelchair since the age of 11, was serving a life sentence in federal prison for a non-violent marijuana conspiracy.

Most clemency applications are filed with the pardon attorney’s office for years, while some people serving time for drug or fraud charges have been put on the president’s radar thanks to direct calls from lawyers on which the administration relied.

The final list, which is expected to be part of a larger package announced by the president on Tuesday, was sent to the White House board office by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, for verification, according to one. people directly involved. .

Lawyers have said they hope the Biden administration will be able to revamp the leniency process and that the pardons approved by Mr. Trump will give the next administration cover with the Tories in the future.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said the administration would not comment on the pardons.

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Video: Look back at Trump’s presidency in 6 minutes

Chaotic Presidency Comes To A End Today is the last full day of President Trump’s tenure. We revisit memorable moments from the past four years by Sarah Kerr, Natalie Reneau and Aaron Byrd.

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Trump’s 1776 commission criticizes liberalism in report ridiculed by historians

WASHINGTON – The White House on Monday released the Presidential Commission report of 1776, a sweeping attack on liberal thought and activism that calls for “patriotic education,” defends America’s foundation against accusations it was tainted with slavery and equates progressivism with fascism.

President Trump formed the 18-member commission – which does not include professional historians but a number of conservative activists, politicians and intellectuals – in the heat of his re-election campaign in September, as he portrayed himself as a defender of traditional American heritage against radical “liberals.” Not previously known for his interest in American history or education, Mr. Trump insisted that schools across the country had been infiltrated by thought anti-American and needed a new “pro-American” agenda.

The commission was part of Mr. Trump’s broader response to the anti-racist protests, some violent, that followed the June murder of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

In his remarks to the National Archives announcing the formation of the commission, Mr. Trump said that “the riots and left-wing chaos are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.”

The commission report accuses, in terms quickly ridiculed by many mainstream historians, that Americans are brainwashed by a false critique of the nation’s founding and identity, including the role of slavery in its history. .

“Historical revisionism which tramples on honest knowledge and historical truth, shames Americans by highlighting only the sins of their ancestors, and teaches claims of systemic racism that can only be eliminated through more discrimination, is a ideology intended to manipulate opinions rather than educate minds, ”says the report.

The report drew intense criticism from historians, some of whom noted that the commission, while filled with conservative educators, did not include a single professional historian from the United States.

James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, said the report was not a piece of history, but a “cynical policy.”

“This report skillfully weaves myths, distortions, deliberate silences, and a blatant yet subtle misreading of the evidence to create a narrative and argument that few respectable professional historians, even across a broad spectrum of interpretation. , would consider plausible, even less convincing ”. he said.

“They use what they call history to stir up cultural wars,” he said.

The commission’s report portrays a nation where liberals boil with hatred for their own country, and whose divisions over its history and meaning are reminiscent of those that led to the American Revolution and Civil War.

It portrays an America whose institutions have been infiltrated by leftist radicals whose views echo those of recent totalitarian movements and argues that progressives have created, in the so-called administrative state, a “fourth branch” or “government”. ghost ”uncontrolled.

And American universities, says the report, “are often hotbeds of anti-Americanism, defamation and censorship today that combine to generate in students and in the culture at large at least disdain and at worst. outright hatred for this country.

The report compares the early 20th-century American progressive movement to the fascism of leaders like Benito Mussolini, who it said “sought to centralize power under the leadership of so-called experts.”

“The greatest revealing of the 1776 report is that it lists ‘progressivism’ with ‘slavery’ and ‘fascism’ in its list of ‘challenges to American principles'”, Thomas Sugrue, historian at the University of New York written on twitter. “It’s time to rewrite my lectures to say that ending child labor and regulating the packaging of meat = Hitlerism.”

Released on Martin Luther King’s birthday, the report even attacks the legacy of the civil rights movement, saying it “almost immediately turned to programs that ran counter to lofty ideals.” of the founders ”.

Some of the strongest criticisms concerned the treatment of slavery in the report, which the report said was a grim reality across the world that was swept into America by the forces unleashed by the American Revolution, which is described as marking “a radical change in moral sensibilities.” “

The authors of the report denounce the accusation that the American founders were hypocrites who preached equality even though they codified it in the Constitution and held slaves themselves.

“This accusation is false and has done enormous damage, especially in recent years, with a devastating effect on our civic unity and our social fabric,” they write. Men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, when they owned hundreds of slaves, abhorred slavery, the report claims.

“The 1776 White House report appears to consider the founders to be hypocritical about slavery as worse for the country than actual slavery,” Seth Masket, professor of political science at the University of Denver, written on twitter.

And in a line that has particularly attracted fire from historians, the report qualifies John C. Calhoun as “perhaps the main precursor” of identity politics.

“Like modern proponents of identity politics,” he asserts, “Calhoun believed that it was impossible to achieve unity through rational deliberation and political compromise; majority groups would only use the political process to oppress minority groups. “

The commission is headed by Larry Arnn, a Trump ally and president of conservative Hillsdale College. Its co-chair is Carol Swain, a distinguished black curator and former professor of law at Vanderbilt University. Other members include former Republican governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant; conservative activist Ned Ryan; Brooke Rollins, former domestic policy adviser to Mr. Trump; and Charles Kesler, the editor of influential curatorial publication The Claremont Review of Books.

The commission and its report are in part a rebuke of The New York Times Magazine’s Project 1619, which reframe American history around the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans. The report denounces the project, as does Mr. Trump in his September speech announcing the commission.

“This project is rewriting American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principle of oppression and not on freedom,” Mr. Trump said at the time.

Mr. Trump’s commission produced its report just four months after its inception and less than a month after Mr. Trump publicly announced its members. In contrast, a race commission created by President Bill Clinton in June 1997 released its first report 15 months later.

Although presented by the White House as “definitive”, the report did not contain any footnotes or scholarly quotes, it was not clear who the main authors were.

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Trump’s “1776 Report” defends the founding of America on the basis of slavery and denounces progressivism.

Trump’s White House on Monday released the Presidential “Commission 1776” report, a sweeping attack on liberal thought and activism that calls for “patriotic education,” defends America’s foundation on the basis of the slavery and equates progressivism with fascism.

President Trump formed the commission in September, saying America’s heritage was under attack by revolutionary fanatics and schools across the country needed a new “pro-America” ​​curriculum.

Its report, released on Martin Luther King’s birthday, denounces the accusation that America’s founders were hypocrites who preached equality even though they codified it in the Constitution and held slaves themselves. “This accusation is false and has done enormous damage, especially in recent years, with a devastating effect on our civic unity and our social fabric,” he says.

The report argues that the “distorted histories” of the United States “operate under the illusion that slavery was somehow an uniquely American evil” and that the institution must “be seen in a much broader perspective,” including understood “the unfortunate fact” that slavery “has been more the rule than the exception throughout human history.”

“Historical revisionism which tramples on honest knowledge and historical truth, shames Americans by highlighting only the sins of their ancestors, and teaches claims of systemic racism that can only be eliminated through more discrimination, is a ideology intended to manipulate opinions rather than educate minds, ”says the report.

The report is the product of the 18-member commission, which is chaired by Larry Arnn, a Trump ally and president of conservative Hillsdale College. Other members include Charlie Kirk, a Conservative activist, and Mr. Trump’s former domestic policy adviser Brooke Rollins.

The document asserts that the civil rights movement has evolved into “identity politics” which it says “teaches that America itself is responsible for oppression.”

He also said progressives had created a “fourth branch of government” or “shadow government” that operated without checks or balances, and compared the American liberals to Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini, who he said “sought to centralize power under leadership. so-called experts.

The commission and its report are in part a rebuke of The New York Times Magazine’s Project 1619, which reframe American history around the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans. The report denounces the project, as does Mr. Trump in his September speech announcing the commission.

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Giuliani will not be part of Trump’s defense in the Senate impeachment trial.

President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani will not participate in the president’s defense during the Senate trial for his second indictment, a person close to Mr. Trump said on Monday.

Mr. Trump met Mr. Giuliani on Saturday night at the White House, and the next day the president started telling people that Mr. Giuliani was not going to be on the team. It is unclear who will be Mr Trump’s defense attorney, given that many lawyers have said privately that they will not represent him.

Mr. Giuliani himself first said he was participating in the trial, and then a day later was not involved.

He told ABC News on Sunday that he would not be part of the defense, noting that he has been a potential witness since he gave a speech at the Jan.6 rally of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol complex, overtaking it for hours.

Yet a day earlier, Mr. Giuliani told ABC News that he would in fact be involved in the impeachment defense and left open the possibility of Mr. Trump showing up for trial. This interview infuriated Trump’s advisers and was a bridge too far for the president himself, according to the person close to the president, who described personal conversations on condition of anonymity.

While the president has a decades-long relationship with Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s advisers blame him for the events surrounding the two indictments the president has faced.

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Pompeo, who led Trump’s State Department mission, leaves with questionable legacy

In Europe, Mr. Pompeo is credited with helping to strengthen NATO as a bulwark against Russia, including through increased military spending. Alexander R. Vershbow, a former NATO Assistant Secretary General who was also a former US Ambassador to Russia and South Korea and Assistant Secretary of Defense, said Pompeo helped protect NATO from “Mr. Trump’s contempt for allies and intimidation. tactical.”

Mr Pompeo also deployed shuttle diplomacy to warm relations between Israel and states in the Middle East and North Africa under the Abraham Accords, the administration’s signing of foreign policy. But these peace pacts were largely negotiated by Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law of the president.

Mr. Pompeo has firmly supported Israel by defying internationally recognized standards, such as moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and declaring Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and the legitimacy of the West Bank settlements. As an evangelical Christian – a group that constitutes a key conservative political constituency – Mr Pompeo has at times formulated actions against Iran in religious terms related to Israel and Bible prophecy.

The Abraham Accords were part of a push to isolate Iran with sanctions and military threats that began after Mr. Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran in May 2018, just weeks after Mr. Pompeo joined the State Department after serving as the Director of the CIA.

Over the next two years, he repeatedly criticized the efforts of other world powers to keep the 2015 nuclear deal intact. Mr Pompeo was visibly boosted by jousting with Iranian officials on Twitter: “You know you are on the side of the angels when this happens ” tweeted Tuesday, months after Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, called him the “Hate Secretary. “

Mr. Pompeo was among Mr. Trump’s advisers who pushed for military strikes against Iran, which the president resisted in June 2019 but allowed in January 2020 to kill a senior Iranian general who was in Iraq. Yet Mr Pompeo toppled in November, among a group of senior officials – including Vice President Mike Pence; Christopher C. Miller, Acting Secretary of Defense; and General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – who responded to the president’s request for strike options against Iran by warning that it could easily escalate into a larger conflict over the course of of the final weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Mr. Pompeo described himself as a follower of “realism, restraint and respect” – an approach advocated by his longtime funder Charles G. Koch, a billionaire conservative whose donor network has given more. campaign contributions to Mr. Pompeo than to any other candidate for Congress in the country in four legislative elections from 2010 to 2016.

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For one of the first times in his life, Trump’s words have consequences for him.

The relationship between President Trump’s words and their consequences has always been fairly straightforward: he says what he wants, and nothing particularly lasting happens to him.

But in the final stages of his presidency and in the aftermath of his second arraignment, Mr. Trump faces an unknown fate. He’s held to account like never before for the things he said, finding his typical defenses – denial, obfuscation, powerful friends, claiming it was all a big joke – insufficient to explain a violent mob acting on his behalf.

In almost certainly the most expansive round of sanctions he has incurred in his life, Mr. Trump’s Twitter account has been banned, his trademark badly damaged, his presidency doomed to historic infamy a second launch. charge. His biggest lender, Deutsche Bank, is looking to create a distance with him. His New Jersey golf club was deprived of a major tournament. Some once-reliable Republican loyalists in Congress are backing down, threatening his grip on the party, even as the president’s popularity with much of his support base remains intact.

Those who have known and watched Mr. Trump over the years cannot shake the irony of a downcast president by the very formula that fueled his rise: inflammatory rhetoric and a self-esteem that sometimes froze in functional self-delusion.

He never considered words to be as important as actions, or even in the same category of potential offense. These are the words that got him through the next interaction, say people who have worked with him. The words were not considered important enough to cause serious problems.

Mr. Trump’s survival instincts were so well developed, in theory, that he had practically perfected the art of semi-plausible denial – a benefit of apparently being on all sides of every major political issue at various points in time. his adult life.

Hadn’t he said the right thing once? That was what he meant.

Hadn’t he winked at the crowd a bit? Everyone takes it too seriously.

Hadn’t he used the word “peacefully” once in that address before the Capitol riot, caught between the more dominant instructions to “fight” and “use force” and “follow rules? very different ”as he aroused anger against elected officials, including his own vice president, who was reluctant to subvert the will of the electorate?

“He used to say outrageous things and then say he was sarcastic, he joked, that people shouldn’t take him at face value – and in fact, if you do, what an idiot you are. are, “said Gwenda Blair, a Trump family biographer. “It’s both a denial for himself, but it is also a denial for his supporters. He gives their something to hold onto so they can continue to believe in him.

But Mr. Trump, and much of the political class who were shocked and bewildered by his victory in 2016, has at times confused his resilience to reputation with the notion that nothing he says can hurt him, even if this is ostensibly damaging.