In a weird stroke of irony, the U.S. government’s credit rating was downgraded the same day that Donald Trump was indicted for a historic third time. A top official confirmed Wednesday that part of the reason for the downgrade was increased political divisions, as evidenced by the January 6 insurrection.
Credit ratings agency Fitch downgraded the United States to AA+ from AAA on Tuesday, a move that surprised investors but was nearly lost in the flurry of Trump getting indicted for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. Fitch predicted the U.S. would see fiscal deterioration over the next three years and cited “the erosion of governance … over the last two decades that has manifested in repeated debt limit standoffs and last-minute resolutions.”
But another major reason for the downgrade was the dramatic increase in political polarization, seen in the January 6 attack, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing Fitch senior director Richard Francis. The ratings agency met with Treasury officials ahead of the downgrade and highlighted the implications of the riot for America’s credit rating.
“It was something that we highlighted because it just is a reflection of the deterioration in governance, it’s one of many,” Francis told Reuters. “You have the debt ceiling, you have Jan. 6. Clearly, if you look at the polarization with both parties … the Democrats have gone further left and Republicans further right, so the middle is kind of falling apart.”
The fact that the downgrade was announced the same day Trump was indicted is likely a coincidence, but the connection between the two events is still significant. Trump faces four counts that include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.
Hundreds of people who descended on Washington to try to stop the certification of votes have said they were responding to a call from Trump. Nearly 200 people who were charged in the January 6 insurrection said they were answering a Trump tweet urging people to attend a “big protest” in the nation’s capital. Almost 100 more specifically said Trump’s speech to the crowd that day prompted them to storm the Capitol.
So it turns out that Trump, who promised a strong economy, has actually cost the U.S. standing in the global market.