}

The Fix

Notetaker in chief: Trump’s presidency as told through a black marker

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

In the unorthodox presidency of Donald Trump, one of the mainstays has been his reliance upon notes he has apparently jotted down for himself with a black marker. The boldface writings have regularly been captured by photographers and have come to define several key moments in his tenure.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

The most recent example came Thursday. In his typed script at his daily coronavirus briefing, “corona” in “coronavirus” was crossed out and replaced with “Chinese.” Trump has been referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” as he increasingly seeks to blame China for its worldwide spread. Critics have alleged the phrase shifts blame and is xenophobic or racist, but Trump disagrees, and his allies have argued that it holds China accountable for an alleged coverup of the situation in Wuhan.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Salwan Georges/The Washington Post

In November, with Trump facing increasingly serious questions about his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate politically expedient things, he also appeared before reporters with some handwritten notes. In them, he quoted then-European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland saying in congressional testimony that Trump had told him, “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.” Sondland later testified that there was, in fact, a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine.

Salwan Georges/The Washington Post

Salwan Georges/The Washington Post

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

After Trump incorrectly stated that Alabama was at risk from Hurricane Dorian last summer, government officials scrambled to try to substantiate the claim. At the time that Trump tweeted that Alabama would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” the state was no longer anywhere in the hurricane’s forecasted path. The situation culminated in Trump holding up a map of Dorian’s potential path that was apparently altered with a black marker to expand the affected areas into the southern part of Alabama.

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Back in May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Trump of a “coverup” when it came to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation. After Trump blew up at Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) at a White House meeting that was ostensibly about infrastructure, he took to the Rose Garden to deliver a screed against the investigations into him. “They want to impeach me over acts that they did,” his notes said. “Dems have no achomlishments.”

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

In a particularly sensitive moment of his presidency, Trump also relied upon handwritten notes. While meeting with the families of victims of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in 2018, his notes included two things he was apparently supposed to say to the families, among others. One of them was, “What would you most want me to know about your experience?” while another was, “I hear you.”

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

It’s rare that reporters get such a window into a politician’s — or even a president’s — talking points, but Trump has repeatedly provided one, thanks to his choice of writing tools and his habit of leaving them visible to photographers.

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post