For someone who claims to want to avoid panic, President Donald Trump sure has a deep record of drumming up fear to try to get his way.
Trump continues to defend comments he made to journalist Bob Woodward in March when he admitted to publicly downplaying the threat of the coronavirus because he didn’t “want to create a panic.”
“We had to show calm. The last thing we can show is panic or excitement or fear or anything else,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “I’m the leader of the country, I can’t be jumping up and down and scaring people,” he later said to Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
“Calm, no panic!” he tweeted on Thursday after being hit with a barrage of criticism over his admitted refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of the virus, which has killed more than 191,000 people in the U.S.
Though Trump claims as president he “can’t be jumping up and down and scaring people,” here’s a look back at his use of just such emotional tactics over the last several years.
“Very bad people” are threatening our borders.
Trump has a history of publicly villainizing immigrants, particularly those crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
One of his perhaps most infamous quotes came in 2015 when he generally described Mexican immigrants as criminals, rapists and drug pushers as a warning against letting them enter the U.S.
“They’re sending people that have a lot of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” said the then-presidential candidate.
In April 2018, he doubled down on his rape comments, claiming that women traveling to the U.S. in a migrant caravan were being “raped at levels nobody has ever seen before.”
Six months later, he again warned on Twitter that “some very bad people” were heading to the U.S.-Mexico border, declaring “this is an invasion of our Country.”
Vote red or be “overwhelmed with violence and crime.”
Trump has repeatedly said that if Americans don’t vote for him or his supporters, things could get violent.
“If I don’t win, America’s Suburbs will be OVERRUN with Low Income Projects, Anarchists, Agitators, Looters and, of course, ‘Friendly Protesters,’” Trump ― who has called anti-racism and civil rights protesters “thugs” and “domestic terrorists” ― tweeted on Thursday.
That comment came just two days after he said this about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to reporters: “If you elected this guy, the suburbs would be overwhelmed with violence and crime.” Trump has taken issue with Biden’s plan to expand a housing rental assistance program for low-income people, which the president said would destroy “the American dream.”
Trump made similar ominous claims in 2018 when he warned of “violence” if Republicans lost in the midterm elections. If Democrats win, they “will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently,” he told supporters at a White House dinner.
“I just hope there won’t be violence,” he told reporters when later asked to clarify his comments.
In an interview with Breitbart News back in March, Trump said that his supporters, “the tough people,” could make things “very bad” for his political opponents.
“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump ― I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad,” he said.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump even seemed to suggest that some of his supporters might target one opponent in particular ― Hillary Clinton.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” he said at a rally before adding: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Though he didn’t specify exactly what enthusiasts of the Second Amendment ― which protects the right to bear arms ― could do, his comment was seen as a veiled assassination threat against Clinton.
Mail-in voting is “a very dangerous thing.”
Trump has continually tried to foment public distrust in the nation’s electoral system, particularly turning his attack on mail-in voting, which he has claimed ― without any supporting evidence ― will lead to mass voter fraud and the destruction of American democracy.
“The only way they can take this election away from us ― if it is a rigged election,” he said last month.
Speaking with reporters in May, Trump called mail-in voting “a very dangerous thing.” In June, he tweeted that it would lead to “the Election disaster of our time,” “the scandal of our times” and “the most RIGGED Election in our nation’s history.”
In addition to sowing doubts about election integrity, Trump threatened to punish states that expand mail-in voting by withholding federal funding. He has suggested delaying the November election (something that is constitutionally not possible without congressional authorization) and said he may not accept the election’s results, telling reporters “I have to see.”
Last month, he also baselessly suggested that ballot boxes are a COVID-19 risk.
The economy will crash “like you’ve never seen.”
Trump’s message when it comes to the stock market and the economy has been clear: Vote for me or suffer another Great Depression.
“You put the wrong person in office, you’ll see things that you would not have believed were possible,” Trump told voters during a White House event in July. “You’ll have a crash like you’ve never seen before.”
He warned on Twitter that 401(k) accounts and stock holdings could “disintegrate and disappear” if he is not reelected in November.
Trump made similar fearmongering comments in August of last year.
“You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k), everything is going to be down the tubes. So whether you love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” he said at a rally in New Hampshire.