On Twitter, the US president wrote: “It was exactly three years ago today, January 20, 2017, that I was sworn into office. So appropriate that today is also MLK jr DAY. African-American Unemployment is the LOWEST in the history of our Country, by far. Also, best Poverty, Youth, and Employment numbers, ever. Great!”
Asked how Mr Trump is celebrating this year’s nationwide memorial recognising the murdered civil rights leader, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said the president “agrees with many of the things” Dr King stood for, including “unity and equality”.
Then she pivoted to the president’s upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate, saying: ”He’s not the one trying to tear the country apart.”
Ms Conway said Dr King’s “vision” did not include “Americans dragged through the process where the president is not going to be removed from office”.
The administration listed no public events celebrating Dr King on Monday. The president issued a proclamation on 17 January in advance of the federal holiday, writing that the administration “works each day to ensure that all Americans have every opportunity to realise a better life for themselves and their families regardless of race, class, gender, or any other barriers that have arbitrarily stood in their way”.
Mr Trump and Mike Pence, the vice president, did visit Dr King’s memorial marker in Washington DC. This year, his campaign’s Twitter account posted a photograph showing Mr Trump walking through the memorial – a photo taken at last year’s wreath-laying ceremony – to “honour the life” of Dr King, but it did not disclose that the image was from last year.
His campaign account also juxtaposed images of Dr King with footage of the president appearing with black Americans as part of a fundraising video.
Mr Trump largely spent the day in Washington in 2019 because of a government shutdown that effectively grounded the first family. In 2018, he was in Palm Beach, Florida. He spent this weekend in Florida and Texas, where he addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Ms Conway said she spent the morning “reading some of the lesser-known passages by Dr King” and said that she appreciates that “we as a nation respect him by giving him his own day”.
This morning, the White House issued a message on Twitter, saying the president will “pause to honour the incredible life and accomplishments” of Dr King, who was assassinated on 4 April 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where he was addressing striking sanitation workers amid preparations for a Poor People’s Campaign.
Minutes later, the president wrote his support for a “Lobby Day” rally in which thousands of gun rights activists – including far-right militia members – gathered in Virginia to protest gun control legislation in the state.
The president accused Democrats of “working hard to take away” Second Amendment rights. “This is just the beginning. Don’t let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!”
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