When Donald J. Trump descended on the capital Friday, he was expected to finally concede that the racially tinged falsehood he had gleefully propagated, that President Obama was born outside of the United States, had in fact been a lie.
But before Mr. Trump got around to what was a grudging and terse admission, which itself included a falsehood about the provenance of so-called birtherism, he had some business to tend to.
“Nice hotel,” said Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, delighting in his newest property and the opportunity to plug it free on live television. He was holding his news conference at his new hotel in the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, which, he promised, is “going to be something very special.”
He seemed untroubled in using an ostensible campaign event just a few blocks from the White House to openly promote his personal commercial interests 52 days before the election.
In fact, this past week offered a vivid illustration of how little regard Mr. Trump has for the long-held expectations of America’s leaders. He is not only breaking the country’s political norms, he and his campaign aides are now all but mocking them.
Besides using his campaign as a platform to make money on a new hotel, Mr. Trump leveled an untrue assertion that Hillary Clinton had been the first to claim Mr. Obama was born abroad. He also boasted about his health on the show of a daytime television celebrity while releasing just his testosterone levels and a few other details about his well-being.
Mr. Trump also continued to flout 40 years of tradition by refusing to release his tax returns, a decision that his eldest son admitted this week was not based on an audit, as Mr. Trump has repeatedly claimed, but on a desire not to “distract” from the campaign’s “main message.” Continue reading the main story Presidential Election 2016 The latest news and analysis of the candidates and issues shaping the presidential race.
Beyond his handling of personal information, he also casually accused the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve of corruption, claimed that the bipartisan national debate commission was rigged against him, and stated that Mrs. Clinton had not proposed a child care plan. (She has, and did so a year before he did.)
He also mocked an African-American pastor who had just welcomed him to her church, and again referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who once said she had Native American roots, as “Pocahontas.”
And that was all before Friday night, when Mr. Trump hinted at violence against Mrs. Clinton by inviting her Secret Service detail to disarm “and see what happens to her.”
Routine falsehoods, unfounded claims and inflammatory language have long been staples of Mr. Trump’s anything-goes campaign. But as the polls tighten and November nears, his behavior, and the implications for the country should he become president, are alarming veteran political observers — and leaving them deeply worried about the precedent being set, regardless of who wins the White House.
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