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[00:00:02]

This is Mike Baker, a correspondent for The New York Times based in the Northwest. It's it's 2:00 a.m. right now in downtown Portland, watching through some clouds of tear gas as a group of protesters right now could feel the teargassed. I am watching here through clouds of tear gas. A group of protesters moving down Main Street. They've got they've got their umbrellas out to protect themselves. And just down the street. It's a line of federal officers there. They're firing.

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Firing tear gas down at the crowd. The officers are standing in a long line down the city block. Protecting the federal courthouse. From The New York Times, I'm Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily. Today, inside the volatile situation in Portland, Oregon, and why federal forces are being deployed to American cities. It's Thursday, July 20, 30. Zoglin, Keano Young's, you covered the Department of Homeland Security four times the entire universe of federal law enforcement.

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So we're just the story of what's happening right now in Portland. Where does it start?

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So I think we have to go back to late May, in late May. As we know, there were protests sweeping throughout the country. Mass demonstrations. A majority of those protests involved people who were demonstrating peacefully.

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But you did also have instances of people damaging property, looting, as well as acts of violence. And in Oakland, you had a situation where an officer with the Federal Protective Service, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security who was guarding a federal courthouse, was actually shot and killed. I should say that the person who shot and killed him was actually affiliated with a fringe anti-government movement and wasn't affiliated with the protests. But that killing did prompt. Good afternoon.

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A rare press conference.

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Department of Homeland Security's highest priority is to ensure the safety and security of the American people and the department's workforce from the top senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security.

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Any loss in the DHS family impacts all of us. And I want the loved ones of these brave officers to know that you have the support of the department behind you.

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They go out there and of course, they honor the memory of this officer, but they also have a message.

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There are currently threats by some to attack police stations and federal buildings that violence not only won't be tolerated. We are also committed to ensuring that it won't succeed anywhere, anywhere.

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And let me be clear, vai make it clear that they are going to take action against anybody that makes a threat or has any sort of action against federal property. The acting deputy secretary kind of Cuccinelli even says that is an act of domestic terrorism.

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That would be an act of domestic terrorism. Thank you very much.

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And so why is that phrase significant domestic terrorism? The reason why this is significant is you have to remember how this department was created in the wake of the September 11th attacks. This department was formed in the Bush administration to have a coordinated effort in the federal government to defend the United States against national security threats directly at that time, foreign terrorism threat. This was a department that was going to protect the borders of the United States. And this signaled that the top officials in that department were turning their attention inward, domestically to these protests that are sweeping major cities.

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So what happens after this news conference, which, from what you're describing, feels like more of a statement than a set of actions? Right. I think at that point it's a message. The message is we're not going to tolerate this. Right. And it's clear.

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But then things start to move pretty fast within two days.

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On June 1st, we start to see that the department is going to back up this rhetoric with the concrete action of federal resources. I remember early in the day, you know, I got a message from a source who sent me an alert that all Homeland Security investigation special agents around the Washington, D.C. area got.

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And it said you have to be on standby for any potential unrest later today around the area of Lafayette Park.

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So that day, you know, later on, that's where you saw the images of Secret Service, DEA, National Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well.

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And of course, it was many of those same federal officials and agents who were stationed outside of Lafayette Park and would clear out protesters to make room for the president's photo op.

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So we're now seeing the message delivered at that news conference put into action on the streets of Washington. That's right.

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And I mean, if you listen to the senior officials with the Department of Homeland Security, as well as other officials in the Trump administration, they would say, look, this federal presence was needed in Washington. Our agents in front of the White House were being threatened. And they would also say, well, look, after about a week, the unrest calmed down.

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So from their perspective, as controversial as some of these actions were, as intimidating and unusual as it felt on the ground, this was working. That's right.

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That's right. It worked. Their deployment worked. If you were to ask them. So what happens next? OK. So over the next few weeks, what really happened is we saw a shift, a tense standoff with police as protesters tried to tear down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson.

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Now we're starting to see protesters and demonstrators honing in and focusing on statues and memorials.

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We're addressing white supremacy finally. And it's just something that we grew up with.

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And it's just been so normalized that the people on our money would have owned me targeting those statues and memorials, sometimes pulling them down, sometimes defacing them. And you also saw a pretty prompt reaction by the federal government.

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They're bad people. They don't love our country and they're not taking down our body. So in late June, I will have an executive order very shortly.

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The president then signs an executive order. The gist of it pretty much says that the attorney general, as well as the acting secretary of homeland security, should direct their resources to defend statues and monuments and federal property.

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Just a couple days later, the Department of Homeland Security then formed a task force, what's known as these rapid deployment teams. Those teams involve two thousand officers and agents that are on standby from air marshals with the TSA to tactical agents with Customs and Border Protection, to special agents with ICE ready on standby to be deployed throughout the U.S..

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And how unusual is this kind of rapid deployment that you're describing? Well, I mean, actually the department when it was formed and many former officials with the department would say this as well, that flexibility to be able to move different officials around is an advantage. Right? It was actually an intention as well to be able to have these different agencies support one another.

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But it's the mission here, deploying them for monuments and statues. You know, the appearance of these teams in front of the National Mall and Gettysburg. That's where many observers, as well as some of the architects of the department raised an eyebrow at this. Why this country is grappling with a couple different national emergencies right now. The Department of Homeland Security also has a huge stake in the response to the pandemic. We have an election coming up as well.

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The department is the agency tasked with cyber security.

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So it was a question over priorities. But for the department, it really comes down to this or any of these people in these crowds committing the federal crime of defacing federal property. The acting secretary has said that he sees it as his job to deploy if there is any mere violation of that federal law, whether it be graffiti on a property or some of the more violent acts that we've seen in these demonstrations. And it's that rationale that the department used that weekend, the weekend of July 4th, to start deploying these teams to different cities, but primarily to Portland.

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We'll be right back. This podcast is supported by E-Trade. Trading isn't for everyone, but E-Trade is whether it's saving for a rainy day or your retirement, E-Trade has you covered. They can help you check financial goals off your list. And with a team of professionals giving you support when you need it, you can be confident that your money is working hard for you. Get more than just trading with E-Trade to get started. Visit E-Trade dot com slash podcast for more information.

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E-Trade Securities LLC member FINRA, SIPC. My finger I just put in there calling someone who explained how this has all unfolded in Washington over the past few weeks. But you are actually on the ground in Portland. So help us understand what it is look like there during that same period.

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You know, it began with with a similar sort of scene that we saw around the country. Mass peaceful demonstrations. Thousands of people on the streets there.

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Really powerful images here in Portland of crowds covering the entire Burnside Bridge over the Willamette River. You know, in honor of George Floyd and at the same time, you got what we saw in a lot of cities. The windows shattered, graffiti everywhere, smashing windows businesses. Now there's a variety for the Nike community store. Starbucks got here. You're looking at some pictures that show the fires that were set the first night of protests.

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They broke into the justice center and lit fires. But what's really been different here is the persistence of it. We're now more than 50 consecutive days into the protests happening every night. Wow. 50 days, non-stop, nonstop every night.

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And what have these nightly confrontations in Portland look like?

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You know, it's it's all over the place, you know, in some of these confrontations, many of which you can see in videos online. You can see these standoffs between. Protesters and police where some protesters throw water bottles or fireworks. Videos of them breaking windows at buildings downtown or setting up barricades in the streets.

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Police claim they've had bricks thrown at them, rocks thrown at them. There've been videos surfacing online of people shooting guns in the air. One group set a fire in the headquarters of the police union, the local police union. And throughout much of this time, they made it really their nightly routine to gather downtown right next to the federal courthouse police bureau.

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This is a civil disturbance and we have declared an unlawful assembly. Leave the area now or you'll be subject to use of force to crowd control should leave.

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If your police kept coming out arresting a number of people. And responding with so much tear gas that some of these protesters went to court. Sued and won a judge's order limiting how much this gas could get used.

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Never seen or covered anything like this. The damage and the impact and the statement being made is unprecedented.

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It's crazy to see just been a persistent issue that they haven't really been able to resolve. And who are the people who were involved in these nightly encounters? As best you can tell.

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It's a group with a, you know, a wide range of backgrounds, ideologies, strategies, tactics that they've brought. You know, Portland has a history of anarchist groups and you can see some of the anarchist symbols on the streets. You know, you see a lot of people wearing all black clothing, which is pretty common for those who are part of the anti fur group. And then you have people who are part of the Black Lives Matter movement chanting the name of George Floyd and just just and so you really have this huge mix in your time in Portland.

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I imagine you're talking to people in the city about this ongoing problem. What are people you've talked to in Portland saying about the situation you've got?

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I mean, it seems like a pretty broad consensus of people who sympathize with the overall message of the protesters, the need for police reform and the need for resolving racial injustices. At the same time, those same people are, you know, frustrated by what seems like a line of protests that won't seem to end. Business people I talked to who, you know, have had their windows boarded up and then shortened their hours for safety reasons. And.

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And one of them I talked to is considering like maybe it's time to just get out of here because there doesn't seem to be a resolution ahead.

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We are physically and emotionally in pain. I have officers that are injured from police.

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You hear them saying essentially that they're out of ideas.

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We love our community.

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We want to serve our community and facilitate free speech, saying that they're exhausted and in pain and they're trying to show that they're part of the community, too, that they aren't some sort of outside force that's here.

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We're at a loss for other solutions right now. And I'm I'm open to any community member who's got ideas, rather solutions. We all are.

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So I have a sense at this point, correct me if I'm wrong, that the police don't quite know how to resolve these nightly encounters and. These nightly encounters are still happening, and so is there some sense of resignation that this is just kind of how it is going to be for a while? Yeah, I mean, there was there's certainly no no, no deadline that was going to be coming up. There's a hope that that things were on a better track, that the numbers that were coming out each night were starting to to shrink a little bit and that they they you know, they might be on on a pathway to to finishing this.

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And that's when deployment of federal officers arrived in town. So what happens when those federal officials start showing up and at the direction of the Department of Homeland Security?

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Well, I mean, right away you can see that they're standing out. I mean, they've shown up here in camouflage fatigues and tactical gear. So just just visually, it's pretty clear that there's no outside force that has now arrived and they've come with a pretty aggressive posture.

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And what are these aggressive tactics from the federal forces there? Look like? Well, some of it just to you know, in the streets, you can see that a return to a large amount of tear gas because, you know, these federal officers were not under the same mandates as local police.

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But then there were also tactics that you could see coming out in different videos in the first one.

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You have this protester standing across the street from the federal courthouse. He's you know, he's he's got a boombox over his head and he's just cursing at the officers across the street.

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Oh, then you see him drop to the ground.

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He's apparently been shot with some sort of less lethal munition and really just created a bloody scene right there on the street.

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Blood all over the sidewalk.

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And his family says he's had to go to the hospital for more than a week. In these other videos, you have these protesters.

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What are you doing? What is going on?

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Who are you on the streets of Portland?

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And federal officers, again, in camouflage and tactical gear, approaching them, grabbing them and then pulling them back to unmarked vans filled with officers in tactical gear.

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And what is the response to these videos? I mean, you've got to outrage from not just the protesters, but from the same city officials that have been the target of the protesters all along.

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The tactics that the Trump administration are using on the streets of Portland are abhorrent. People are being literally scooped off the street into unmarked vans, rental cars.

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Apparently, the mayor has been villain number one for a lot of these protesters as someone who has failed to reform the police department in the ways they want. And yet here you have him.

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It's not helping the situation at all. They're not wanted here. We haven't asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.

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Ask the federal officers to leave his city. He doesn't want them here. He doesn't want them on the streets.

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And what they're doing is they are sharply escalating the situation. Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism.

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And you have the cycle here of tear gas and things being thrown back and forth. Standoffs where protesters are holding umbrellas and shields made out of pool noodles and plywood. And the officers standing on the other side and in their full tactical gear and helmets and gas masks and a scene of two sides and not much a pathway to a resolution in the space between.

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So as of now, because the very thing the federal government is in Portland to try to tamp down on. Is actually escalating in response. I mean, it's been a significant escalation. I mean, now we're seeing thousands of people out there, yet people out there coming out for the first time.

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So what was the what was your motivation for coming out?

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And so I caught up with this grandmother from Eugene, Oregon, who is who is there and had come up to Portland for the first time and told her family that she planned to stay on the outskirts to be safe. And then while she was there, I mean, she was motivated to to keep moving up. And I caught up with her again, and she was right at the front of the federal federal courthouse.

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She's a little uneasy watching this unfold.

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Doesn't necessarily agree with the tactics she's watching. But she's she's staying there. She feels the need. This is a moment to stand up to do something, and she needs to be there. Zone Mike Baker said that the federal presence in Portland has basically made things worse, not better. And it has really created a kind of violent feedback loop between the protesters and these federal officers. And I wonder what you think about that.

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Well, I mean, whether you listen to the demonstrators, the local officials there or the senior officials with the Department of Homeland Security, it clear everyone agrees that the federal presence voiced far has not succeeded in terms of bringing an end to the violence that we're seeing, the unrest that we're seeing at this time. So by that measure, the goal has not been accomplished. But there is also a question here, you know, for the Trump administration. Is that solely their measure of success?

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Is this solely about bringing an end to this unrest? You know, optics do matter and the optics of having agents in camouflage gear and tactical teams in a city led by Democrats, that does send a message. The radical left wing mob's agenda take over our cities. And just a couple days ago, the president's re-election campaign actually issued a campaign ad.

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And Joe Biden stands with them with images that look a lot like that area around the federal courthouse in Portland, displaying images of unrest and individual acts of violence.

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Violent crime exploding. Innocent children fatally shot. Who will be there to answer the call when your children aren't safe?

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And at the very end of that ad, they actually lay it out in pretty direct terms. Text that read you won't be safe.

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And Joe Biden's America and Donald J. Trump and I approve this message. You're actually seeing the White House kind of double down. And I can tell you in water, they've done a fantastic job. They've been there and say, well, look, they're doing a great job in Portland.

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In fact, we're not going to New York and Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore and all of these. Oakland is a mess. We're not going to let this happen in our country, a run by liberal Democrats.

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Some of these other cities led by Democrats could use the same kind of deployment.

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This is worse than Afghanistan by far. This is worse than anything anyone's ever seen.

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All grown by the same liberal Democrats. And you know what?

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If Biden got in. That would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell and.

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Suzlon, where does this leave us at this point? So it leaves us in this precarious position. We know that on the ground in Portland, the presence of federal agents and those officers has increased tension. But to the president, he'd like to see a similar presence in other cities.

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Zoe, thank you very much. Thanks for having me here.

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On Wednesday, President Trump announced that he would immediately dispatch federal law enforcement officers to Chicago, the FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshal Service and Homeland Security will together be sending hundreds of skilled law enforcement officers to Chicago to help drive down violent crime in Chicago.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she would not tolerate the kind of federal deployment that has played out in Portland.

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What we saw the president, any attorney general do in Portland is a travesty and we are not having it in Chicago.

[00:27:01]

We'll be very back. The New York Times wants to invite you to join our panel by joining our panel. You'll provide regular feedback about the show and your general experiences with advertising and products from the Times while connecting with fellow listeners and readers. Join it. NY Times dot com slash daily listener.

[00:27:26]

Here's what else you need. Ten, thirty. It's essential that we wear masks statewide in Ohio to contain the spread of this virus. So therefore, tomorrow at six o'clock tomorrow night, our mask or for people who are out in public will be extended throughout their state of Ohio as the daily death toll from the Corona virus again surpasses 1000 Americans a day. Governors in three more states issued orders requiring masks. Ohio, Indiana and Minnesota, the wearing of the mask, plus the social distancing makes a huge, huge difference.

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The orders came a day after President Trump, who has long resisted wearing masks and at times even disparaged him, made his most forceful call yet for wearing them.

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And no sitting president has ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican presidents or Democratic presidents. We've had racists and they've existed and they've tried to get elected.

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President is the first one that had during a campaign event. On Wednesday, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, called President Trump the first racist to be elected president. The way he deals with with people based on the color of their skin or national origin, where they're from is absolutely sickening. In response, historians noted that previous presidents owned enslaved people and were openly racist. And during a news conference, Trump rejected Biden's characterization.

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Do you want to respond to Joe Biden, who today described to you by the as the first racist to be elected president? Those are his those his words. I've done things that nobody else. And I've said this and I say it openly and not a lot of people dispute it. I've done more for black Americans than anybody with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln. Nobody has even been close.

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