America was in need of a rallying cry. Then Trump stepped up to the mic

Trump delivers a press conference on July 14, 2020.

This was excerpted from the July 15 edition of CNN's Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

(CNN)America was in need of a rallying cry. And on Tuesday, President Donald Trump stepped up to the mic in the Rose Garden of the White House.

It had been perhaps America's grimmest day so far in the pandemic. Florida had just recorded its highest daily death toll, and Texas hit a new peak in case diagnoses. More than 136,000 Americans had now died of Covid-19, and officials were warning that the coming autumn and winter could be the "most difficult time" yet.
To say Trump failed to deliver the needed solace would be kind. His appearance, ostensibly planned to unveil new punishments for China over its expansion of powers in Hong Kong, went quickly off the rails -- and turned to a rambling rant mostly focused on his rival, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. On America's tragic day, here's a sample of what was on the President's mind.
    On Biden's record
      "So Biden was here for 47 years ... the last eight years, not long ago, as vice president. ... Well, we're doing a good job on highways, but why didn't he fix them three years ago? Why didn't he fix them? We have bridges that should have been fixed. Why didn't he fix them?"
        "If we had listened to Joe Biden, hundreds of thousands of additional lives would have been lost, and if you look at the job he did on swine flu -- I looked at a poll .. .and they got very bad marks on the job they did on the swine flu. H1N1, he calls it N1H1. H1N1". (Actually, the Obama administration got better polling on H1N1 than Trump is getting for the coronavirus).
        On climate change and eyesight
          "So (Democrats) want to rejoin the Paris climate accord and they want to seek an even higher level of restraint. In other words, make it worse than it was. That basically means no windows, no nothing. It's very hard to do. I tell people when they want to go into some of these buildings, how are your eyes, because they won't be good in five years."
          On his own popularity, the 2016 election and crustaceans
          "You look at the lakes you see thousands of boats with Trump signs, American signs. You've got the Trump-Pence sign all over. You look at what's going on, you look at bikers, for miles and miles riding up highways proudly with their signs."
          "We got in and we had 306 to I guess 223 (electoral votes), which was a tremendous margin of difference. You remember? They all said he cannot get to 270. I went to Maine a number of times, where we just freed up lobster fishing and fishing because they took away 5,000 square miles from Maine. I just opened it up."
          And a familiar, false explanation of why some US states are being swamped by a new wave of coronavirus cases.
          "Think of this, if we didn't do testing -- instead of testing over 40 million people, if we did half the testing we'd have half the cases. If we did another -- you cut that in half, we'd have yet again half of that."

          A century-old crime scene

          Workers and researchers dig at Oaklawn Cemetery in Tulsa, Okla., during a test excavation in the search for possible mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. (Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP)
          In Tulsa, Oklahoma, forensic archaeologists are digging in search of possible mass graves. A recent survey found unmarked burials and large man-made pits in the city's Oaklawn cemetery, which may hide the remains of Black Tulsans killed during a bloody race riot in 1921. The site is being treated as a crime scene.
          Part of Greenwood District burned in Race Riots, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, June 1921. (Photo by: Universal HIstory Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

          'The world does need a WHO'

          The US is withdrawing from the World Health Organization, but Trump's increasingly estranged top infectious disease expert says the world and America need it. "(WHO) are an imperfect organization. They have made mistakes, but I would like to see the mistakes corrected, and for them to be much more in line with the kinds of things that we need," Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday during a Georgetown Global Health Initiative webinar. "I hope this kind of tension between the United States and the WHO somehow or other ultimately gets settled in a favorable way, because the world does need a WHO for outbreaks like this, and even for the general health of the globe to coordinate it."

          More than a travel ban

          The Trump administration has backtracked on a plan to deport foreign students who are taking classes online due to campus closures. But most of its immigration policy changes pushed through during the pandemic remain on the books, as CNN's Catherine Shoichet and Priscilla Alvarez show below. Their list suggests that while Trump has long targeted undocumented migrants, his administration is now taking aim at the very foundation of the American idea -- legal migration.
          • Banned travel from China (January 31), Iran (February 29), some European countries (March 12) and Brazil (May 24)
          • Suspended routine visa services at US consulates (March 13)
          • Closed many immigration courts and postponed hearings (March 17)
          • Closed US Citizenship and Immigration Services offices and canceled citizenship ceremonies (March 17)
          • Paused all refugee resettlement in the US (March 18)
          • Used a public health law to turn back thousands of migrants seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border, including families and children (March 20)
          • Closed the borders to nonessential travel (March 21)
          • Postponed hearings for thousands of migrants waiting in Mexico to seek asylum (March 23)
          • Threatened to impose visa sanctions on countries that don't accept US deportations (April 10)
          • Suspended new green card applications from abroad (April 22)
          • Blocked thousands of guest worker visas until at least the end of the year (June 22)
          • Warned that due to budget shortfalls the US will have to furlough thousands of employees at the agency tasked with handling most legal immigration to the US (June 25)
          • Told foreign students they could face deportation if they're attending universities offering only online courses due to Covid (July 6 -- rescinded July 14)
            • Proposed a sweeping new regulation that would block asylum seekers on public health grounds (July 8)