In a new ad, The Lincoln Project, a political action committee of Republicans who oppose President Donald Trump, states that the president’s “wall” actually consists of the over 330,000 Americans who have died during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The silent ad begins by displaying the numerical date for December 28, 2020 over a black background. The date then fades and a ticker begins quickly counting from zero to 330,901 over what seems to be a bird’s eye view of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico; there are sounds of wind and insects chirping.
The following words fade into view: “More than 330,901 Americans are dead.”
In the ad’s closing shot, the “wall” turns out to be a row of tombstones in a desert prairie, each headstone numbered to represent a different person killed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “THIS IS TRUMP’S WALL” appears on the screen, followed by the message, “Paid for with 330,901 American lives.” An eagle screeches in the distance.
As of December 29, more than 336,000 Americans have died from over 19.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. The U.S. ranks among the top 10 world countries with the highest COVID-19 case fatality rates per capita.
The Lincoln Project has repeatedly attacked Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Their previous ads marked the grim milestone of 200,000 dead Americans in October, accused Trump of downplaying the lethality of the virus while gasping for air after being hospitalized with it, turned his praise of the medication Regeneron into a cheesy ’80s-style infomercial, and edited his town hall comment that “everybody’s going to die” from COVID-19 into a dance re-mix.
Only two percent of Trump’s 729 tweets published between Election Day and December 19 were about COVID-19, according to the Trump Twitter Archive. None of the tweets mentioned the COVID-19 death toll or advised Americans on how to avoid the virus. Approximately 69 percent of his tweets during that time were about the election results.
Trump repeatedly said he would erect a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico during his 2016 and 2020 election campaigns. He also claimed that Mexico would pay for the entirety of the wall’s construction, but never clarified how.
During his 2016 election campaign, Trump called for 1,000 miles of new wall to be built. In 2018, he dropped that number to 600 to 500, according to Bloomberg News. By August 2020, Trump had built only 30 miles of barriers on the border where none had existed before, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He has also repaired 245 miles of pre-existing primary and secondary barriers along the border.
Roughly $5 billion in wall funding came through the Customs and Border Protection budget and Trump re-directed an additional $10 billion from the Defense Department for it, but Mexico hasn’t yet paid for any of the construction.
Both former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrado have said repeatedly that their country won’t be paying for any of the wall.
A study published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, co-authored by former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Harvard University economist David Cutler, concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic has cost Americans over $16 trillion.
The study’s authors called the pandemic “the greatest threat to prosperity and well-being the U.S. has encountered since the Great Depression.”
Newsweek contacted the White House for comment.
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