Donald Trump drew on his dark, campaign-style vision of a divided America at his Fourth of July fireworks show at Mount Rushmore, held in front of hundreds of people packed together and not wearing masks as the nation's coronavirus crisis reaches nearly 3 million cases and more than 128,00 deaths.
The US reported more than 50,000 cases on Friday for a third straight-day, with spikes in nearly every state as the US entered the three-day holiday weekend.
In his remarks, he promised to defend monuments and condemned what he called "far-left fascism" among protesters calling for the removal of statues honouring slaveholders and Confederates.
Roughly 100 protesters were met by National Guard troops who fired pepper spray at several people and arrested a handful of others.
The president promised to build a National Garden of American Heroes – "a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans who ever lived" – including a complicated and likely controversial selection of American figures, from Amelia Earhart and Harriet Tubman to Antonin Scalia and Billy Graham.
The president also argued that Black Lives Matter protesters angered by the police killings of George Floyd and other black Americans would have wiped out the city of Minneapolis had he not sent in the National Guard to stop the demonstrations, while he picked fights with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and Dr Anthony Fauci as he seeks to distract from the resurgent coronavirus.
Dr Fauci warned on Thursday that the US is “not going in the right direction” after the country reported 55,000 new cases of Covid-19 in a day, beating the world record for a daily rise set by Brazil on 19 June. Arizona, California, Florida and Texas alone accounted for 25,000 of that total as assistant health secretary Brett Giroir cautioned: “We are not flattening the curve right now. The curve is still going up.”
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