The absolutely bonkers threat Donald Trump made this week

With just days to go until the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump is an underdog to win a second term. This raises an interesting question: What will Trump do next? In his latest video, CNN's Chris Cillizza explains how Trump will likely embrace television even more and create a right-wing media empire.

Posted: Oct 28, 2020 10:11 AM
Updated: Oct 28, 2020 10:11 AM

At a rally in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said something incredible -- even by his standards.

Recounting how his campaign had to move the site of the rally to comply with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's Covid-19 protocols, Trump said this:

"I'll remember it, Tom. I'm gonna remember it, Tom. 'Hello, Mr. President, this is Governor Wolf, I need help, I need help.' You know what? These people are bad."

Let's be very clear what Trump is doing here: He is threatening to withhold federal aid -- or some sort of other assistance -- the next time Pennsylvania needs it because the state's governor, according to the President, made it difficult to find a site to hold a campaign rally. Yes, really.

Oh, and by the way, a spokeswoman for Wolf's office insisted to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Trump's version of this story is simply wrong -- that the governor's office sent a letter to Trump's campaign earlier in the year requesting that they adhere to social distancing and masks guidelines, but that's it.

"Outside of that, the administration has had no contact with the Trump campaign about its events," wrote Wolf spokeswoman Sarah Goulet in an email to the Tribune-Review. "The Trump campaign is under no obligation to reach out to the administration when it is planning visits. We believe the campaign works directly with the owners of property or local officials when planning. Again, what the president said is inaccurate."

It's easy to lose sight of the abnormality of something like this because so much of what Trump says and does is deeply abnormal compared to the ways in which we have always seen our presidents act.

But we shouldn't just gloss over comments like this. For a few reasons:

1) It shows, again, that Trump believes that the federal government is essentially a tool that he can use to reward friends and punish political enemies. We've seen this time after time during Trump's first term -- most notably at the Department of Justice, where the President has wondered aloud why the FBI and the CIA aren't doing more to investigate, charge or put people he doesn't like in jail. (Trump is never clear on the exact crimes for which his opponents should be incarcerated.)

Asked over the weekend about the plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and whether he bears any sort of responsibility because of his rhetoric focused on her, Trump responded: "It was our Justice Department that is the one that's helping her. My Justice Department, if you call it that." My Justice Department. (Trump's used that construction before. Who could forget his reference to "my generals" in reference to the US military commanders.)

For Trump, the power of the federal government isn't really about doing the most good for the most people. It's about him. It's his government -- to do with as he pleases.

2) There's a chilling effect here. If you think other governors didn't pay attention to Trump's threat to Wolf, then you don't know how aware state-level officials are of the power (and the purse) of the federal government. Trump's willingness to make clear that he plans to exact revenge on a governor because of some alleged disagreement over where an event can be held suggests that he is would do the same to other governors who also slight him or make his life harder. That's not the sort of thing that a governor wants to have to factor into their calculations about what's best for their state.

Now, it's possible that Trump loses his bid for a second term next Tuesday and never has a chance to make good on that threat to Wolf.

But that's not really the point. Because what if, say, Pennsylvania is hit with some sort of natural disaster between now and January 20, 2021? Does Wolf really need to worry that because Trump thinks he got screwed on a venue to hold a rally that the state might not get the money it needs to effectively deal with its challenges? Of course not.

That's the predicament Wolf finds himself in, however. Because he is dealing with the most radical -- and norm-breaking -- President ever to hold the job.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 540277

Reported Deaths: 7022
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1125861667
Ramsey46611846
Dakota41151414
Anoka37226413
Washington24233273
Stearns20532215
St. Louis16380295
Scott15455116
Wright14317124
Olmsted1256996
Sherburne1020879
Carver946043
Clay765189
Rice7408100
Blue Earth676840
Kandiyohi618879
Crow Wing591786
Chisago535648
Otter Tail531673
Benton518396
Mower446032
Winona434549
Douglas432170
Goodhue429871
Nobles396147
Morrison382859
McLeod381154
Beltrami365057
Isanti360159
Polk358966
Itasca356851
Steele346614
Becker344848
Lyon341848
Carlton322152
Freeborn319429
Pine305321
Nicollet298542
Brown289139
Mille Lacs269547
Le Sueur265022
Todd264830
Cass241426
Meeker227037
Waseca225820
Martin209029
Wabasha19793
Roseau194018
Dodge16794
Hubbard167641
Renville167443
Redwood163335
Houston161814
Cottonwood151420
Fillmore15039
Pennington148419
Chippewa143636
Faribault141619
Wadena139820
Sibley132110
Aitkin126736
Kanabec124921
Watonwan12429
Rock120918
Jackson113010
Yellow Medicine108218
Pipestone107225
Murray10149
Pope9906
Swift97118
Marshall83717
Stevens79010
Lake77819
Wilkin75412
Clearwater75314
Koochiching74312
Lac qui Parle73022
Big Stone5544
Lincoln5532
Grant5388
Norman5119
Mahnomen4898
Unassigned48578
Kittson44322
Red Lake3796
Traverse3585
Lake of the Woods2932
Cook1440

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 354875

Reported Deaths: 5797
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55489598
Linn20153329
Scott18692234
Black Hawk15460306
Woodbury14773219
Johnson1384380
Dubuque13023202
Dallas1082196
Pottawattamie10612160
Story1024447
Warren548286
Clinton530789
Cerro Gordo518586
Webster506091
Sioux502673
Marshall476274
Muscatine454796
Des Moines439065
Wapello4245120
Buena Vista420940
Jasper406270
Plymouth393779
Lee366655
Marion353975
Jones292055
Henry285337
Bremer278260
Carroll277650
Crawford261539
Boone256131
Benton248955
Washington247849
Dickinson238643
Mahaska223049
Jackson216842
Kossuth211461
Clay208325
Tama206371
Delaware200939
Winneshiek192533
Page189020
Buchanan187331
Cedar182623
Fayette182641
Wright178635
Hardin178542
Hamilton176949
Harrison174673
Clayton165355
Butler161834
Mills157420
Cherokee156438
Floyd154342
Lyon153541
Poweshiek152133
Madison151919
Allamakee149051
Iowa144624
Hancock142634
Winnebago135331
Grundy134832
Cass133954
Calhoun133011
Jefferson130535
Emmet127140
Shelby126537
Louisa126049
Appanoose125847
Sac125819
Mitchell125241
Union123732
Chickasaw122015
Humboldt117926
Guthrie116728
Franklin112321
Palo Alto109622
Howard102622
Unassigned10030
Montgomery99737
Clarke98023
Keokuk94330
Monroe93128
Ida88533
Adair84032
Pocahontas83021
Monona80430
Davis79824
Greene76310
Lucas74822
Osceola73716
Worth6978
Taylor64812
Fremont60410
Decatur5889
Van Buren55318
Ringgold53322
Wayne51823
Audubon4939
Adams3264
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