Donald Trump has made some extraordinary claims in a series of tweets, attesting he has done more for black Americans than any other US President in history.
Protests over the killing of George Floyd and America’s racial crisis continued overnight but were largely peaceful, with the nation’s streets calmer than they have been in days.
It was a stark contrast after more than a week of violent demonstrations over police brutality which caused shockwaves and further protests across the world.
Yet overnight the President claimed he had done “much more” for African-American communities in his three-and-a-half years as President than his likely Democratic political opponent, Joe Biden, had done in 43 years.
“I’ve done more for Black Americans, in fact, than any President in U.S. history, with the possible exception of another Republican President, the late, great, Abraham Lincoln … and it’s not even close.”
President Trump noted a tweet he posted on Tuesday, in which he pointed to a number of his administration’s policies, including “guaranteed funding” for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), passing criminal justice reform and noting America’s lowest “black unemployment, poverty, and crime rates in history”.
A fact check last year by AP though said Trump was “exaggerating his role in bringing economic gains to black Americans”.
Former special assistant to president George W. Bush, Ron Christie, told the BBC overnight he was stunned by what he read.
“I think its a remarkable statement,” that he has singlehandledly done more is a shocking statement, to put it politely, and a rather irritating statement to be more specific,” he said.
“Americans we have always had struggles with racial equality in our country. For one man in one sweeping tweet to say that…I find quite shocking. As a Republican, I find that to be revolting.”
Mr Christie is an African American who wrote the book, Black in the White House, detailing his life in the West Wing as a black conservative.
Trump has been slammed for his handling of both the coronavirus crisis and the protests against police brutality, with the President threatening to deploy active-duty US military if US states failed to control the demonstrations.
He has pushed the nation’s governors to take a hard line against the violence, tweeting on Tuesday that “lowlifes and losers” were taking over New York’s streets
Pope Francis has even called for national reconciliation and peace, saying he has “witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest” in the U.S.
Opponent Joe Biden, who was vice president under Barack Obama, said in his first speech since March this week: “Look, the presidency is a big job. Nobody will get everything right. And I won’t either. But I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division.”
Earlier curfews and efforts by protesters to contain the lawlessness prevented more widespread damage to businesses in New York and other cities overnight.
Arrests have grown to more than 9,000 nationwide since the vandalism, arson and shootings erupted around the U.S. in reaction to Floyd’s death May 25 in Minneapolis.
At least 12 deaths have been reported, though the circumstances in many cases are still being sorted out.
In Washington, where authorities ordered people off streets before sundown, thousands of demonstrators massed a block from the White House, following a crackdown a day earlier when officers drove peaceful protesters away to clear the way for President Trump to do a photo op with a Bible at a church.
A black chain-link fence was put up to block access to the park.
Thousands of people remained out in New York City, undeterred by an 8pm curfew, though most streets were clear by early Wednesday. Battered storefronts from the earlier rounds of violence could be seen in mid-town Manhattan.
Protesters also marched in Los Angeles; Miami; St. Paul, Minnesota; Columbia, South Carolina; and Houston, where the police chief talked to peaceful demonstrators, vowing reforms.