How is Trump's personal hygiene

Summary of the US correspondent"A president lies there, it was a completely new experience"

For five years, Thilo Kößler reported for Deutschlandradio from the USA on crises, the presidency of Donald Trump, the growing tensions in American society. Kößler traveled a lot in the country that is now deeply divided. Now he is returning to Germany.

Thilo Kößler - Dlf correspondent in Washington, USA (Marion Meakam) Thilo KößlerAfter studying history, he began his radio career in 1978 as a reporter in the Bavarian Radio's studio in Nuremberg. In 1987 he switched to the SDR in Stuttgart as a time radio editor and was ARD radio correspondent for the Middle East in Cairo from 1990 to 1996. Since 1998 he has worked as an editor for Deutschlandfunk, first in Zeitfunk, then as head of the European editorial office. From 2007 he was head of the "Background" department. Since June 2016 he has been the USA correspondent for Deutschlandradio, based in Washington.

How has the US changed in five years of reporting?

The phenomenon of political division was not new: the country had known it before, it was not a Trump phenomenon. But Donald Trump has driven the wedge even deeper into society - through his political style, but also through his agenda of marginalization of entire population groups, through his racist agenda. He marginalized immigrants, marginalized African Americans. They understood his motto "Make America great again" as "Make America White Again".

(picture alliance / dpa / Rod Lamkey) Racism in the USA - "Trump is unable to see reality"
Trump did not take note of the fact that the division of society in the USA came about during his tenure, criticized the political scientist Joyce Mushaben in the Dlf.

Trump has curtailed civil rights, interpreted the right to vote restrictively and he has stoked the hatred of the parties for one another. Democrats and Republicans can almost no longer talk to each other. The two impeachments contributed to this. Never in American history has a US president been subjected to two impeachment proceedings. Joe Biden will make every effort to fill in the trenches that have arisen.

(AP Photo / John Minchillo) What the second impeachment trial was about
After the storm on the Capitol, the US House of Representatives initiated impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump - without success. An overview.

(picture alliance / dpa / Horst Galuschka) Political scientist Hacke: Failure of impeachment has strengthened the Trump myth (08:41)
The second impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump were important for the political hygiene of democratic America, said the political scientist Christian Hacke. However, this also strengthened the myth about Trump. At the moment, the prospects are not for pacification, but rather for confrontation. US President Joe Biden and the Democrats should now turn away from the arrogant liberalism of the nouveau riche and become a party of the common people.

How did correspondents deal with Trump's Twitter behavior?

It was a learning curve. First of all, the correspondents pounced on the tweets of US President Trump. We kept spreading it until we realized that was his intention. He instrumentalizes us with it, bypasses the classic media and creates his own public.

Finally, it became increasingly clear that Donald Trump was spreading lies on Twitter. He denounces people, he discredits them. It took us to deal with it offensively and to label the lies as such. There was initially a lot of criticism for this. But of course we had to classify, evaluate and weight his statements. It's part of our professional ethos and our journalistic duty of care. But that was shocking. First of all for myself. A president lies there, it is a completely new experience to draw the appropriate conclusion from this horror of knowledge. That was also uncomfortable and completely unfamiliar for many listeners.

(imago / Allison Dinner) New dialogue between government and media
With the change in the White House, a lot is likely to change for the US media as well. There will probably be no public attacks by Joe Biden. Nevertheless, the journalist Christoph von Marschall expects continuity on some issues.

How did you experience the corona pandemic?

Corona attacked this country like a wild animal and it immediately became a political issue. Donald Trump played down the pandemic. He kept it a secret, covered it up. He did nothing to stop the spread. He didn't make any rules. He quickly lifted the first half-hearted lockdown.

Trump hasn't even recommended wearing masks. Worse still: the mask actually became a political statement. Anyone wearing a mask was a democrat. Many Republicans didn't wear masks because Trump didn't wear masks.

The realization quickly emerged: if the state does not protect you, if there are no precautionary measures, if there are no rules or regulations that are bindingly adhered to by everyone, then you have to protect yourself.

Many colleagues still went to the election events and quite a few became infected. Every time after a Trump show you could trace the infection. I drew conclusions from this: Interviews are only available via Skype or with a long microphone, I avoided crowds of people. It's just still right, really dangerous in this country.

(imago images / Levine-Roberts) Trump and the corona crisis
Many attest US President Donald Trump a devastating record, which is particularly evident in the corona crisis. The pandemic hits an ailing health system that is overwhelmed under normal circumstances.

How much leeway does the new President Joe Biden have for change?

He has just as much leeway as the majority dictates. In the Senate, that's 50 to 50 votes plus one - the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. There is not much room for maneuver, Joe Biden depends on the cooperation with the Republicans.

Still, this is a very big opportunity for Joe Biden. Because it is absolutely rare that a party succeeds in conquering the White House, the majority in the House of Representatives and the majority in the Senate. This means that Joe Biden must now try to tackle the reform backlog by the mid-term elections in November 2022. He must now initiate the reform of the immigration law, the health reform, the reform of the judiciary.

This is the only way to take the wind out of the sails for populists and Trumpists. He must now make concrete policies that help people, relieve them, and benefit them. This is the only way he can try to really build bridges.

(dpa / CNP / Rod Lamkey) A president in front of a divided country
With his Corona crisis management, the new US President Joe Biden wants to unite a politically deeply divided country. He could succeed - there are signs of it.

Do you predominate in concern or confidence in American democracy?

I still remember that day when the two administrations finally started work after the election and the inauguration. It was like a sigh of relief going through Washington. Suddenly there was a president who no longer spoke about his own successes, but rather about content, about program, about priorities. Suddenly there was a foreign minister with a clear bearing and a promise to return to the multilateral worldview. Suddenly there was a new press secretary who believes the work of the media is important, who is committed to the truth, who honestly answers questions.

After the storming of the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 there is a feeling that democracy was darned in jeopardy, but in the end it triumphed. In this respect, I am actually going back to Germany with an optimistic mood - after the four years of Donald Trump, which were really depressing in many ways.

(dpa / Britta Pedersen) Ex-Foreign Minister Gabriel (SPD) sees "a huge risk to the institutions"
After the storm on the Capitol, the threat to constitutional organs is politically possible in the USA, warned ex-Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) in the Dlf.

What can the Germans learn from the Americans?

I have always admired this tremendous flexibility: Americans adapt incredibly quickly to new situations, to a change of location, to a change of job. I will miss this incredible friendliness and courtesy very much. Many Americans are communication artists. They can make you feel like they have always been waiting for you. This culture of respect, appreciation, and openness, that is what I would very much like us Germans to do in large parts.