One of the most profoundly disquieting aspects of Donald Trump’s brief but historically horrifying occupancy of the white House is the abundance of scathing tell-all books published by his former staffers and associates. There has never been a former president who was more reviled by the people who worked most closely to him.
The latest example is a book by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, The Divider: Trump in the White House. These seasoned journalists are likely to share numerous disturbing revelations about Trump when the book is released. But in the meantime, they have published an excerpt in the New Yorker that is a pretty chilling teaser for what’s to come.
The article features some of Trump’s exchanges with his defense and national security advisors that illustrate just how dangerous his arrogance and ignorance was. Such as what the authors say was “Trump’s love affair with ‘my generals'” that “soured on them over time.” “These were very untalented people,” Trump bleated, “and once I realized it, I did not rely on them.”
That’s because Trump only relied on those he had certified were unflinching sycophants and, more often than not, himself. He was once asked who he talks to for advice and responded saying that “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”
The book also presented an exchange that Trump had with his then-Chief of Staff, Gen. John Kelly. It reveals both Trump’s disrespect for America’s most experienced military leaders, as well as his grotesque aspirations for authoritarian dictatorship…
Trump: You f*cking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?
Kelly: Which generals?
Trump: The German generals in World War II.
Kelly: You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?
Trump: No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him.
Somehow it seems like a more accurate transcription would have read “Nein, nein, nein, they were totally loyal to him.” This exchange shouldn’t surprise anyone. It isn’t the first time that Trump has expressed his admiration for – and jealously of – foreign tyrants. He once lamented that the American people didn’t idolize him like the brutally oppressed North Koreans idolize Kim Jung Un. “He speaks and his people sit up in attention” Trump dreamed. “I want my people to do the same.”
The article also featured a reference to Trump’s craving for obedient generals who would assist his overturning the 2020 presidential election and the overthrowing of the U.S. government.
“On December 18th, Trump hosted [disgraced former general Michael] Flynn [who was pardoned by Trump after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia] and a group of other election deniers in the Oval Office, where, for the first time in American history, a President would seriously entertain using the military to overturn an election. They brought with them a draft of a proposed Presidential order requiring the acting Defense Secretary — Christopher Miller — to ‘seize, collect, retain and analyze” voting machines.'”
The more we learn about Trump, the more we realize how close we came to the end of American democracy. And it needs to be noted that in most cases it isn’t some adversarial Democratic politician or pundit sounding the alarm. It is the people Trump hired to staff his administration, and who were first hand witnesses to his treachery.
The nation must remember this and hold Trump to account. Because if we don’t, he is surely going to try it again. He’s already laying the groundwork for it.
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