Trump, Who Has Celebrated Violent Protests, Cheers Campus Crackdowns

Let’s start today’s newsletter with a brief news quiz.

Who said this, in reference to the clearing of protests on Columbia University’s campus last week?

“The police came in. In exactly two hours, everything was over. It was a beautiful thing to watch.”

And who said this, in reference to the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021?

“It was a beautiful day.”

The answer in both cases, of course, is former President Donald Trump, who is wielding self-serving and frequently inaccurate stories about both events as tools in his presidential campaign. He has denounced the campus protests as lawless chaos even as he depicts the Jan. 6 rioters as heroes — and appears to be trying to play one episode off the other as he seeks to sanitize his own record as president.

As he has moved in and out of his New York criminal trial and hit the campaign trail in recent weeks, Trump has tried to turn the college protests of the war in Gaza to his political benefit. He has praised the arrests of protesters, and suggested in an interview with Time magazine that he would call in the National Guard to quell protests if they were happening on his watch.

“Columbia just canceled their commencement,” Trump said Monday at the courthouse in Manhattan where he is on trial. “That shouldn’t happen.”

Trump, who frequently uses violent rhetoric — including suggesting there would be “bedlam” and “potential death and destruction” if various criminal proceedings against him moved forward — is seeking to depict President Biden as a hapless leader who cannot get the protests under control.

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