Relying on falsehoods, Trump turns Kenosha into a campaign prop

Instead of taking steps to ease tensions in Kenosha, Trump seemed eager to instead play make-believe.
Image: President Donald Trump tours an area on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, damaged during demonstrations after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
President Donald Trump tours an area on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, damaged during demonstrations after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.Evan Vucci / AP
Get the Msnbc newsletter.
SUBSCRIBE
By Steve Benen

Nine days after a Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back, Donald Trump visited the community, ignoring the wishes of state officials.

In theory, one can imagine a president wanting to go to the area to meet with Blake and his family, or perhaps taking steps to ease tensions, but Trump seemed eager to instead play make-believe.

The Republican pretended not to notice, for example, that one of his supporters stands accused of murder after his actions in Kenosha last week. Trump pretended police abuses aren't a national problem. He pretended questions about systemic racism aren't important. He pretended he was responsible for Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) activating the state’s National Guard. The president pretended social unrest is a purely partisan matter that has nothing to do with his failed leadership, at one point insisting yesterday, "It’s all Democrat. Everything is Democrat."

And perhaps most strikingly, Trump pretended to stand alongside a local camera-shop owner. The NBC affiliate in Milwaukee reported overnight:

A Kenosha business owner is accusing President Donald Trump of using his destroyed store for political gain. Tom Gram’s century-old camera shop burned to the ground a week ago during the unrest in Uptown Kenosha. Gram said he declined President Trump’s request to be a part of his tour of damage Tuesday in Kenosha. Instead, a former owner of the shop was invited and he praised the president’s efforts.

So, let me see if I have this straight. Trump held a pseudo campaign event in front of the remains of Rode’s Camera Shop in Kenosha, which was destroyed during local unrest last week. The owner and longtime employee of the shop didn't want to get caught up in the president's political circus, so he rebuffed a White House invitation to participate.

Trump instead stood alongside someone who sold the business eight years ago -- and simply pretended he was the current owner, who, naturally, sang the president's praises during yesterday's photo-op.

During the photo-op, Trump seemed eager to celebrate himself, while criticizing state officials. "Unfortunately, they had a few days when people wouldn’t call us," the president said. "They didn’t want to have us come in. They just don’t want us to come in, and then destruction is done. A day earlier, we would’ve saved your store."

Except, it wasn't the other guy's store. The actual owner was at home watching this play out on television.

Alas, it wasn't the only thing Trump got wrong yesterday. The New York Times published a lengthy fact-check piece on the president's lies yesterday, and the Associated Press ran a related report, highlighting Trump's many "misstatements."