This Wednesday, President Donald Trump abruptly announced in a televised address from the Oval Office that travel connecting a full 26 countries in Europe with the United States would be blocked in what, on paper at least, has been billed as a response to the Coronavirus. In reality, no travel ban will stop the spread of the virus within the United States, where more than 1,323 cases have already been documented and 38 people have died. POLITICO points out that there’s another grimly questionable aspect of the travel ban — it exempts countries where three “financially struggling,” Trump-branded golf resorts are located, even though one of those countries — the United Kingdom — has hundreds upon hundreds of confirmed cases of the virus.
The European travel ban targets countries who participate in the so-called Schengen Area, within which residents can travel without a visa. Neither the U.K. nor Ireland, which together house three Trump resorts, are members of this “area,” although this situation is not the first time when Trump-branded resorts including those in Europe have become a suspiciously Trump-serving fixture in a policy decision. For example, in late 2019, Vice President Mike Pence himself opted to stay at the Trump resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, which is across the country from the venues for the meetings that he was actually there to participate in. Ground transportation fees alone totaled some $600,000 for the trip — which, of course, consisted of taxpayer money.
In this case, European leaders are speaking out. Figures including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel have condemned Trump’s travel ban, which they revealed was enacted without consulting their side, no matter the potential huge economic consequences — in response to a shock drop, the U.S. stock market temporarily paused trading yet again this Thursday morning, the day after Trump’s travel ban announcement.
The European leaders commented:
‘The Coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action. The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.’
Will Trump take their words to heart? Probably not. Has he ever done something similar while in office before?
On Twitter this week, shortly before his travel ban announcement, he proclaimed:
‘The Media should view this as a time of unity and strength. We have a common enemy, actually, an enemy of the World, the CoronaVirus. We must beat it as quickly and safely as possible. There is nothing more important to me than the life & safety of the United States!’
The Media should view this as a time of unity and strength. We have a common enemy, actually, an enemy of the World, the CoronaVirus. We must beat it as quickly and safely as possible. There is nothing more important to me than the life & safety of the United States!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 11, 2020
Yet — he is the one who, as cases in the U.S. have increased, has alternated between insisting that it would all blow over without a hitch and claiming that coverage of the negative aspects of the situation is a “hoax” to make him look bad. He’s the one sending the situation into a tailspin, and he’s blaming others for it.
His crisis communication’s failure was even more glaringly displayed when he bungled his initial travel ban announcement, forcing later clarification that Americans could still get home from Europe and cargo would not be affected.