On Wednesday, then-President-elect Donald Trump posted a photo he claimed captured him in the act of writing his inaugural address. But the Wall Street Journal reports his contributions were minimal at best.
“Much of the speech was written by Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, two of Mr. Trump’s top advisers,” the Journal reports, citing a White House official.
Politico reports that Miller, senior White House adviser for policy, wrote most of the prepared speeches Trump delivered last year, including his keynote address at the Republican National Convention. That speech, like the inaugural address, painted a dire picture of an America besieged by threats within and without, with Trump presenting himself as the only hope for salvation.
“I alone can fix it,” Trump said at the RNC.
Before he started working for Trump, Bannon, who now serves as Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor, was the executive chairman of Breitbart, which he proudly described as “the platform for the alt-right” — a euphemism popularized by Richard Spencer, head of the white supremacist National Policy Institute (NPI), one of the country’s leading contemporary advocates of ideological racism. Under Bannon’s watch, Breitbart featured a “black crime” vertical.
During his inaugural address, Trump said “America First” is the “new vision [that] will govern the land.” The phrase “America First” was popularized by a 1940s isolationist, anti-Semitic group that opposed America’s entry into World War II. Bannon’s ex-wife accused him of anti-Semitism.
The closing ad of Trump’s campaign — presumably edited under the aegis of Bannon, who was Trump’s campaign CEO — included dog-whistles about “blood suckers” who back international trade, a scheming “global power structure,” and warnings about how Hillary Clinton allegedly “meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty.” These comments drew a rebuke from the the Anti-Defamation League for featuring “tropes that historically have been used against Jews.”
Trump’s “America First” comments also served as a warning to foreign governments that U.S. policy is moving in an isolationist direction.
“We assembled here today our issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power, from this day forward, a new vision will govern our land, from this day forward, it’s going to be only America first,” Trump said during his inaugural address. “America first.”
“We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny,” Trump added. He went on to demand “a total allegiance to the United States of America.”
Bannon praised the speech while speaking to the Wall Street Journal.
“I don’t think we’ve had a speech like that since Andrew Jackson came to the White House,” he said. “It’s got a deep, deep root of patriotism.”
Bannon added that the speech was “an unvarnished declaration of the basic principles of [Trump’s] populist and nationalist movement.”
Trump’s fib about writing the speech is nothing new for him. Trump has lied about major things — he once said an “extremely credible source” told him President Obama’s birth certificate was fraudulent — to small things, like taking credit for the 2016 RNC taking place in Ohio when in fact the choice was made back in 2014, without any input from Trump.
But Trump’s lie may have served its purpose. As of Saturday afternoon, CNN’s website still featured a story headlined, “Trump wrote inauguration speech himself.”