Stumbling Toward Heaven

How Trump Killed Tens of Thousands of Americans

Here’s just the last part of William Saletan’s thoroughly researched timeline counting down the torrent of lies, stupidity, and criminal negligence that should, in a just universe, lead to the trial and life sentence for Donald Trump and all his accomplices for the negligent homicide of every COVID victim in the US the instant he is dragged from office as the traitor he is:

On June 10, Trump announced that he would resume holding political rallies. He targeted four states: Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Oklahoma. The point of the rallies, he explained, wasn’t just to boost his campaign but to signal that it was time to “open up our country” and “get back to business.” When reporters raised the possibility that he might spread the virus by drawing crowds indoors, he accused them of “trying to Covid Shame us on our big Rallies.”

Despite being warned that infections in Oklahoma were surging, Trump proceeded with a rally at a Tulsa arena on June 20. To encourage social distance, the arena’s managers put “Do Not Sit Here” stickers on alternate seats. The Trump campaign removed the stickers. Trump also refused to wear a mask at the rally—few people in the crowd did, either—and in his speech, he bragged about continuing to shake children’s hands. Two weeks later, Tulsa broke its record for daily infections, and the city’s health director said the rally was partly to blame. Former presidential candidate Herman Cain attended the rally, tested positive for the virus days afterward, and died at the end of July.

At the rally, Trump complained that health care workers were finding too many infections by testing people for the virus. He said he had told “my people” to “slow the testing down, please.” Aides insisted that the president was joking. But on June 22, in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, he said he was only half-joking. He affirmed, this time seriously, that he had told “my people” that testing was largely frivolous and bad for America’s image. Weeks later, officials involved in negotiations on Capitol Hill disclosed that the administration, against the wishes of Senate Republicans, was trying to block funding for virus tests.

Two days after the Tulsa rally, an interviewer asked Trump whether he was putting lives at risk “by continuing to hold these indoor events.” Trump brushed off the question: “I’m not worried about it. No, not at all.” The next day, June 23, the president staged another largely mask-free rally, this time in a church in Arizona, where a statewide outbreak was underway. Days later, Secret Service agents and a speaker at the Arizona rally tested positive for the virus. On June 28, Trump urged people to attend another rally, this time featuring Pence, at a Dallas church where five choir and orchestra members had tested positive.

In his interview with Wallace, which aired July 19, Trump conceded nothing. He called Fauci an alarmist and repeated that the virus would “disappear.” He excoriated governors for “not allowing me to have rallies” and accused them of keeping businesses closed to hurt him in the election. He claimed that “masks cause problems” and said people should feel free not to wear them. He threatened to defund schools unless they resumed in-class instruction. As to the rising number of infections, Trump scoffed that “many of those cases shouldn’t even be cases,” since they would “heal automatically.” By testing so many people, he groused, health care workers were “creating trouble for the fake news to come along and say, ‘Oh, we have more cases.’ ”“Many of those cases heal automatically. … We’re creating trouble for the fake news to come along and say, ‘Oh, we have more cases.’ ”— Trump, July 17

Since that interview, Trump has attacked and belittled his medical advisers. He lashed out at Birx for acknowledging the ongoing spread of the virus. He retweeted a false claim that Fauci was suppressing hydroxychloroquine “to perpetuate Covid deaths to hurt Trump.” When Fauci told Congress that infections had increased due to insufficient mitigation, Trump rebuked him and blamed the surge on increased testing. And when Dave Portnoy, a wealthy Trump supporter, complained that his stocks tanked every time Fauci called for mitigation, Trump assured Portnoy that the doctor’s pleas would go nowhere. “He’d like to see [the economy] closed up for a couple of years,” Trump said of Fauci. “But that’s OK, because I’m president. So I say, ‘I appreciate your opinion. Now somebody give me another opinion.’ ”

It’s hard to believe a president could be this callous and corrupt. It’s hard to believe one person could get so many things wrong or do so much damage. But that’s what happened. Trump knew we weren’t ready for a pandemic, but he didn’t prepare. He knew China was hiding the extent of the crisis, but he joined in the cover-up. He knew the virus was spreading in the United States, but he said it was vanishing. He knew we wouldn’t find it without more tests, but he said we didn’t need them. He delayed mitigation. He derided masks. He tried to silence anyone who told the truth. And in the face of multiple warnings, he pushed the country back open, reigniting the spread of the disease.

Now Trump asks us to reelect him. “We had the greatest economy in the history of the world,” he told Fox News on Wednesday. “Then we got hit with the plague from China.” But now, he promised, “We’re building it again.” In Trump’s story, the virus is a foreign intrusion, an unpleasant interlude, a stroke of bad luck. But when you stand back and look at the full extent of his role in the catastrophe, it’s amazing how lucky we were. For three years, we survived the most ruthless, reckless, dishonest president in American history. Then our luck ran out.

Read the whole damn thing. Vote this evil man out and then jail him for life. Then start jailing the GOP crime syndicate that aided and abetted him so that future generations will not be utterly ashamed of our accursed generation for what we did in electing these monsters.