“I warned Mark Meadows at my hearing. I warned the Jim Jordans, “he said, referring to his Congressional testimony from less than two years ago, as well as Trump’s current Chief of Staff and other members of the GOP House who are particularly responsible for Trump. His message: “I know what you’re doing. I know the Trump game plan because I wrote it and it didn’t work for me. And it won’t work for you.”
“Donald Trump,” he said, “is going to marginalize people, and if they don’t want to be excluded and locked up and financially ruined, as Trump did to me, they better open their eyes.”
The idiosyncrasies of this particular moment are undoubtedly re-alarming – it never quite openly sought to undermine American democracy, of course – but this is just the final twist on a worn page of the old Trump game book.
He measures the strength of devotion to himself by requiring that others engage in ethically suspicious, legally murky activities that are of immediate benefit and often cause permanent problems for everyone else. What Trump does in the end is get people to make a choice. For him or against him? In or out? Yes or no? Choose.
“He does everything that he has been doing since he was 20” biographer Tim O’Brien told me. “He tries to bend people over to serve his short-term interests. And he doesn’t care about other outcomes as long as it comes to self-enlargement and self-preservation. “
“This is about democracy and we know it he doesn’t care – we know The for a long time, “former Trump Casino Executive Jack O’Donnell told me. “But he pulls people with him.”
“I am amazed how easily he can corrupt people around him“Said O’Brien.” Continues to surprise me. “
After all, it’s been going on for half a century. In New York, New Jersey and beyond, in business, political and media circles, in the nexus of the three that served as a petri dish for the person he stirred up, people have made versions of this decision for decades: with Trump or not?
O’Brien ticked off a few quick examples: Abe Beame, the mid-1970s New York City Mayor, played along and enabled an unprecedented tax break to lubricate Trump’s career motel renovation in Midtown Manhattan – but Ed Koch, Beame’s successor not, thwarted similar tactics in Trump’s efforts to develop valuable property on the Upper West Side and engage in an ongoing public spit. Page six of the New York Post and other gossip columnists and tabloid reporters played along – but other journalists like Wayne Barrett, who were less interested in the glitz than in the grip, didn’t. Same goes for banks: after Trump’s self-inflicted implosion in the early 90s, most of them stopped lending him –but not Deutsche Bank.
It has happened so much and for so long and with such persistence that anyone who understood Trump’s past better than a beginner saw all of this – saw it before his election – and could see the dangerous moment on the shattering horizon.
“He’s a predatory personality,” O’Brien said to me and Susan Glasser in October from 2016and said he “polluted almost everything he touched” in his first campaign.
The leaders of the Anti-Trump Lincoln Project predicted this week’s binary dynamics in a comment last October: “… your time for selection will come,” Stuart Stevens, Rick Wilson, Steve Schmidt and Reed Galen wrote. “Every elected Republican official, associate, adviser, associate, and sympathizer will face a choice: my party or my country?”
And this weekend this election was audible and explicit with Trump Call with Brad Raffensperger, Georgian Foreign Minister, and Ryan Germany, General Counsel of his office. “Fellas, I need 11,000 votes,” said Trump, his comments interspersed with thinly veiled insults and threats. “I only want to find 11,780 votes,” he said elsewhere. Raffensperger and Germany let him talk – and held on. “Mr. President,” said Raffensperger, “the challenge you have is the data you have is wrong.” The messed up voting machines? The ballot papers torn or burned? All these unsubstantiated claims of “false” election fraud? “That is not right, Mr. President,” said Germany. “No,” he said. out.
And there was the election again last night rally in North Georgia –yes in, by Senator Kelly Loeffler, yes in, by QAnon conspiracy theorist and newly sworn congressman Marjorie Taylor Greene – and Trump’s utterly unsubtle pressure on Utah Senator Mike Lee (“I’m a little mad at him …” for not supporting the plan to challenge certification ) and Mike Pence keeping his eye on his role on Wednesday (“I hope our great Vice President, our great Vice President, comes through for us. He’s a great guy. If he doesn’t get through, I won’t like him that much …”) . Come through for us – me or them more than 81 million People who voted for Joe Biden.
Such outrageous demands have been made throughout Trump’s tenure, and the results have been clear: he relied on James Comey, who said no and was fired; He relied on Jeff Sessions, who didn’t say yes emphatically enough and was forced to resign. But at this symbolic moment of the 11th hour, when Trump is on his way to the exits, he makes his most outrageous demand of all – and there is, as always, a list of those who are ready to submit.
“We knew that would happen, ”Galen, one of the authors of the October article, told me the other day. “We said a lot of these people would cross the Rubicon.”
“When he dialed this number, he never expected that he would spend an hour on the phone with Raffensperger. He thought he would call him, Raffensperger would surrender, he would go upstairs, have some ice cream and turn on the news, ”Cohen told me when we discussed Trump’s call. “In his mind he sees himself as Kim Jong Un of the United States, and if Kim Jong Un in North Korea said to a Raffensperger-type person,” Find me the 11,700 votes, what do you think would happen? “
The process on Wednesday ends with Biden being certified as the 46th President. It can take a lot longer than usual, but in the end it ends as it always does. Trump will lose. However, if the story lasts, the people who joined it will lose more.
“Any of the Republicans who have joined Trump’s Chaos are not doing so out of loyalty to Trump,” Cohen said. “They don’t do it because they even believe in what Trump is doing. They do it because they fear his Twitter anger and believe that the supporters, the base of Trump supporters, will vote against them in every upcoming election because they are not on Trump’s side. This is more about their survival than anything else. And that is sad and pathetic. “