The Atlantic Daily: Trump’s Photo Op

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a staged photo op outside the White House succinctly tells the story of the Trump presidency.


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The sea of protests in front of the White House was parted not by miracle, but by force. Last night, federal police used tear gas to clear a walking route to a nearby church so that the president could stage a photo op.

It was there that Donald Trump held the Bible—“it’s a Bible,” he told a reporter who asked if it was his—aloft.

The striking scene captured so much about this presidency, and how Trump employs his pulpit. Four of our writers explain:

The president was trying to rehabilitate his image.

Trump wanted to be seen as “strong, ruthless, and pious,” so “he commandeered the nation’s attention with the choreographed precision of a onetime TV showman,” our White House correspondent Peter Nicholas reports.

But his messaging belies the truth on the ground.

Trump positions himself as the champion law-and-order president, David A. Graham writes, but delivers only chaos.

He used the Bible as a weapon of culture war …

“Sacredness has never been a concern of Trump’s,” McKay Coppins points out. And many Christians reject his message, Emma Green reports.

… and risked politicizing the armed forces.

Mike Mullen, a retired admiral and the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, breaks his silence: “I am deeply worried that as they execute their orders, the members of our military will be co-opted for political purposes.”

Borja Alegre

History will judge the complicit.

We’ve posted our new cover story early. Read Anne Applebaum on why some political leaders abandon their principles in support of an immoral regime.


One question, answered: Can you be fired for getting sick with COVID-19?

Olga Khazan, who wrote about how America’s flawed approach to sick leave is making the pandemic worse, explains:

Technically, yes. Workers say this has happened to them in a few isolated cases around the country. Although a new law is in place to protect workers who take sick or family leave, it doesn’t cover all employers. It’s yet another example of America’s loophole-ridden sick-leave system.

View all of our stories related to the coronavirus outbreak here. We’re looking to talk with individuals who got sick with COVID-19 and didn’t tell their family about it. To share your experience, please write to us here.

What to read if … you just want practical advice:

What to read if … you want to better understand the work of the late conceptional artist Christo:

My colleague Sophie Gilbert offers this reflection on Christo’s whimsical, ephemeral works. He died at 84 this week.