IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Four years later, Trump's complaints and rhetoric haven't changed

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters during an event on protecting seniors with diabetes in the Rose Garden White House, on May 26, 2020.Evan Vucci / AP

WASHINGTON — Alleging voter fraud. Accusing opponents of committing crimes. Discrediting the media. Portraying the opposition as weak, old and unstable.

Sounds like President Trump over the past week, right?

But it’s also exactly how Trump campaigned in the final month of the 2016 presidential contest, especially right before the Comey letter turned the race upside down.

“Voter fraud”

“They even want to try and rig the election at the polling booths, where so many cities are corrupt and you see that,” Trump said while campaigning in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Oct. 18, 2016. “Voter fraud is all too common.”

“It’s a rigged election”

“Folks, it's a rigged system, and it's a rigged election, believe me,” he said in Cleveland on Oct. 22, 2016.

Hillary Clinton “should be locked up”

“She should be locked up, I'll tell you right now. What she's done, what she's done, she ought to be ashamed of herself. And you know what? Our government ought to be ashamed of itself for allowing it to happen,” Trump said in Tallahassee, Fla., on Oct. 25.

The media are “crooks” and “disgraceful”

“These thieves and crooks, the media, not all of it, not all of it, but much of it (boos). They're the most crooked. They're almost as crooked as Hillary, they may even be more crooked than Hillary, because without the media, she would be nothing. Without the media, Hillary Clinton would be nothing. They're disgraceful,” he said in St. Augustine, Fla., on Oct. 24.

Hillary’s “weak” and “exhausted”

“And you know, she's trigger happy. She looks weak, and she looks ineffective, and you watch her, and you watch her at the end of the debate where she's like, exhausted, she could hardly make it to her car,” Trump said in Naples, Fla., on Oct. 23, 2016.

It’s all a reminder that much of what we’ve seen from the president recently is a rehash from his rhetoric on the campaign trail four years ago. And it’s likely what we’ll see in October and November.

When you’re a hammer, everything you see out there — your Democratic opponent, Joe Scarborough, Twitter, voting by mail — starts looking like a nail.

Trump goes to war with Twitter

Of course, one big difference from four years ago is that Trump is now president.

And he has powers at his disposal to hammer certain nails that he didn’t have back in 2016.

“President Trump is preparing to sign an executive order Thursday that could roll back the immunity that tech giants have for the content on their sites, according to two people familiar with the matter,” the Washington Post writes.

More: “The wide-ranging order comes two days after Twitter took the rare step of labeling one of the president’s tweets and linking viewers to news articles that fact-checked his claims.”

And: “The order will mark the White House’s most significant salvo against Silicon Valley after years of verbal broadsides and regulatory threats from Trump and his top deputies. It also may raise fresh, thorny questions about the First Amendment, the future of expression online and the extent to which the White House can properly — and legally — influence the decisions that private companies make about their apps, sites and services.”

By the way, it sure looks like Trump’s hammer here has influenced Facebook, with Mark Zuckerberg going on Fox News to knock Twitter’s fact-check of the president.

"I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online," Zuckerberg said in an interview that’s set to air today. "Private companies probably shouldn't be, especially these platform companies, shouldn't be in the position of doing that."

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

1,709,539: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 16,013 more than yesterday morning.)

100,916: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,210 more than yesterday morning).

15.19 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

10 times higher: The current number of workers seeking unemployment compared with pre-lockdown levels, even as applications decrease from their peak.

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Biden speaks about the 100,000 dead

Joe Biden released a video on Wednesday to mark – and grieve – the 100,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus, per NBC’s Marianna Sotomayor.

“Beginning his two minute address with ‘My fellow Americans,’ Biden sympathize[d] with those grieving telling them that he knows the feeling of heartbreak so intense if feels as if they are ‘being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest,’” Sotomayor reports.

“‘With the pain the anger and the frustration, you will wonder whether or not you'll ever be able to get anywhere from here. It’s made all the worse by knowing that this is a fateful milestone we should have never reached, that could have been avoided,’ Biden said before citing the Columbia University study projecting that 36,000 lives could have been saved if stay-at-home orders were placed one week earlier in March.”

Ad Watch from Ben Kamisar

There’s already been more than $133 million spent on TV and radio advertising on Senate races so far, according to Advertising Analytics.

The Senate contest in Maine leads the pack, with $25.6 million in spending ahead of Republican Sen. Susan Collins’ re-election fight. North Carolina and its $20.9 million is close behind — that stage is set, with Republican Sen. Thom Tillis squaring off against Democrat Cal Cunningham.

Then there are a handful of races — Iowa, Michigan, Kentucky, Georgia’s special election and Arizona — all clustered within a few million dollars of each other, but well behind the two leaders.

Catch the full top 10 list on the MTP Blog.

Steve King says he has receipts

Iowa Rep. Steve King is still arguing that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told King he’d advocate for King’s committee assignments to be restored. King’s new remarks happened during a debate between the Republican candidates for King’s seat — and King said he brought receipts to back up his claims, per NBC’s Maura Barrett.

King said he brought a transcript of the April 19 phone call he had with McCarthy and read: “Here’s the operative part, I said to him, and I quote, ‘This is my understanding, and so that we understand each other I’ll ask you this way,’ quote: ‘Will you go to the steering committee and advocate on my behalf to restore me to all my committees?’ Close quote. McCarthy’s answer directly was ‘yes.’ One word, real clear. Not only that, my wife was listening in on that conversation as well.”

King added: “And so if this doesn’t happen, it’s not on me. Just like not being on committees, it’s not on me. This is on the people that made those decisions.”

King’s lack of committee assignments (which were stripped last year) have become an issue on the campaign trail for King — without committee assignments, there’s little power he can wield in the halls of Congress. McCarthy hasn’t said one way or another if he’d advocate for King to have his committees back, but on May 15 McCarthy said, “Congressman King's comments cannot be exonerated and I never said that. Committee assignments are decided by the Steering Committee. He will have the opportunity to make his case. Talking to members on the Steering Committee, I think he would get the same response that he got before.”

The Lid: Roll Tide

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we delved into the messy Sessions v. Tuberville runoff in Alabama.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s what’s in Trump’s expected executive order on social media companies.

Despite his warnings against voting-by-mail, Trump’s own campaign is working to make it easier for his supporters in Pennsylvania.

The president is finding himself playing defense to keep a firm hold on his own base.

After the president threatened a veto, House leaders pulled a bill on FISA overhaul off the floor last night.

Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney are taking on Trump directly for his baseless claims about Joe Scarborough.

Pollster Stan Greenberg says Elizabeth Warren is Biden’s best bet for VP.