President Donald Trump has had a tumultuous final year of his term, finding some of the greatest achievements and most devastating losses of his presidency. Here’s a look back on the biggest Trump moments of 2020.
The Democratic Party’s dogged attempt to impeach and remove Trump from office set the tone for 2020. Just as Trump had shed accusations of Russia collusion, new allegations regarding his relations with Ukraine reared their head.
While Democrats successfully impeaching Trump in the House may appear to be a loss, his acquittal in the Republican-held Senate was a foregone conclusion. Polling at the time also showed that Trump saw the highest approval rating of his presidency — 49 percent — in the midst of the impeachment trial in the Senate.
Television ratings from the impeachment trial also indicate that Americans simply didn’t care enough about the event to watch it. While major networks typically get 11 millions sets of eyeballs in a given day, they saw just 4 million for the Democrats’ opening arguments in the Senate, according to NBC News.
Loss: The Coronavirus Pandemic
While the worthiness of Trump’s response to COVID-19 is up for debate, it is undeniable that the pandemic has been a devastating loss for his presidency.
Heading into 2020, Trump was riding a roaring economy, the end of the Trump-Russia allegations and an unpopular impeachment attempt. Then the pandemic came and killed more than 300,000 Americans.
Polls from October showed that nearly 60 percent of Americans disapproved of trump’s handling of COVID-19 and just 37 percent approved.
The negative sentiment came partly thanks to Trump’s own flip-flops on the pandemic, arguing in the earliest days that the disease would just “disappear.”
Win: Operation Warp Speed
Trump’s public comments and tweets about the coronavirus pandemic may be unpopular, but his administration’s push for a vaccine has been undeniably successful.
Operation Warp Speed (OWS) is the program Trump and his coronavirus task force used to partner the public and private sectors to boost the development and distribution of a vaccine. Vaccines typically take years or even decades to develop, but Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines were developed in less than 11 months.
That speed beats even Dr. Anthony Fauci’s prediction of 18 months, and the vaccine has forced even Trump’s greatest critics to admit the success. President-Elect Joe Biden begrudgingly said Trump deserves “some credit” for OWS on December 21.
Loss: George Floyd Riots
While Trump sought to capitalize on widespread unrest by planting his campaign on a law-and-order message, polling shows it didn’t move the needle much.
While support for Black Lives Matter first surged and then plummeted as the violence went on, Americans generally did not support Trump’s push to deploy federal troops to hot spots of unrest. The move was unpopular even among members of his administration, with then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly breaking with the president.
“The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,” Esper said in June.
Trump’s feud with Esper is believed to have played a large roll in Trump’s ultimate decision to fire him in November.
Win: Abraham Accords
Even as the pandemic and widespread social unrest absorbed the attention of most Americans, the Trump administration was quietly achieving something every president in decades has dreamed of: true progress toward peace in the Middle East.
The Abraham Accords that Trump and his administration brokered saw Arab Islamic states like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain open diplomatic relations with the Jewish state of Israel. The administration says it expects several other Arab states to join the accords, including the regional giant Saudi Arabia. (RELATED First Commercial Flight Between Israel And UAE To Take Off Monday)
The Trump administration also brokered a peace agreement with the Taliban in February to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan, something Americans have overwhelmingly supported for years.
While the withdrawal got off to a slow start, the U.S. military is set to reduce total troop presence in the two countries to 2,500 by mid-January.