Tuesday, January 18

‘A madman with millions of followers’: what Trump’s new books tell us | Books


TThis week, The Guardian reported that Kremlin documents believed to be leaked describe Donald Trump as an “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual.” Vladimir Putin, the documents say, therefore decided to aid Trump’s rise to power in 2016 as a way to weaken the United States.

Five years later, as the United States digests a series of explosive revelations about the final days of Trump’s presidency drawn from a series of new books, Russia’s trial appears to be in its infancy.

Taken together, these Trump books show how close the United States came to disaster amid stern warnings from military leaders and almost unprecedented fears of a coup attempt. They also revealed shocking new claims about Trump and his inner circle, including praise for Hitler and an apparent desire to have protesters shot.

In Nightmare Scenario, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta of the Washington Post show how Trump failed to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Trump, they report, wanted to send infected Americans to Guantanamo Bay and appeared to be hoping Covid would remove his national security adviser.

Trump reportedly told his top general to `` shoot '' those demonstrating in Lafayette Square last summer.
Trump reportedly told his top general to “ shoot ” those demonstrating in Lafayette Square last summer. Photograph: White House / ZUMA Wire / REX / Shutterstock

In Landslide, Michael Wolff’s second sequel to Fire and Fury, the book that spawned the genre, Trump is shown isolated and unhinged in the White House, driven to extremes by Rudy Giuliani before, during and after the deadly attack on his supporters to the Capitol. It also reports – and Fox News denies it – that Rupert Murdoch personally approved of the early call from Arizona that signaled Trump’s defeat with a terse “Fuck it.”

In Frankly We Won This Election, Michael Bender reports on the 2020 campaign in great detail. It also tells us that Trump believed that Adolf Hitler “did a lot of good things,” he wanted to “runWhichever aide leaked the news of his withdrawal to a White House bunker as anti-racism protests erupted last summer, telling his top general to “shoot” those demonstrating in Lafayette Square outside.

In I Can Only Fix It, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker show that general, Mark Milley, resisting Trump but fearing a “Reichstag moment,” a coup by supporters of a president who preaches “the gospel of the Führer.” Four days later, on January 6 of this year, Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol, seeking to reverse the elections, seeking lawmakers to capture and kill.

The two Pulitzer-winning Washington Post reporters also report that Vice President Mike Pence defied his own Secret Service agents and refused to leave the Capitol because he was under attack. They even show Milley reassuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Trump will not be allowed to use nuclear weapons. So on Friday Susan Glasser of the New Yorker, whose Trump book will come out Next year. Glasser also reported on Milley’s efforts to prevent Trump from attacking Iran.

For the reader, America really was on the brink of disaster.

When asked about Trump’s thoughts, a spokesperson directed The Guardian to a statement released on July 9, before some of the more alarming revelations were made public. The interviews he sat for were “a total waste of time,” Trump said, as the authors were “bad people” who “write what they want to write.”

But Trump responded to Leonnig and Rucker, also authors of a bestseller at the beginning of his presidency, A Very Stable Genius. Denying his reports, he said General Milley should be “indicted or court-martialed and tried” and called Pelosi “a known wacko.”

Tara Setmayer, former Republican strategist now a senior advisor with the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, he told The Guardian that such statements were “the ravings of a delusional madman.”

“But he is a madman with millions of followers, including powerful elected members of the United States government.”

Donald Trump and General Mark Milley, who allegedly feared a coup by the president's supporters.
Donald Trump and General Mark Milley, who allegedly feared a coup by the president’s supporters. Photograph: Jim Young / Reuters

Therein lies the problem. Many Trump books report big news. Many deal in lewd gossip. But they all, in some way, document a moment in American history that is unprecedented and that is not over.

Trump retains control of a party committed to promoting his lie that his defeat was the result of electoral fraud and attacking the voting rights of opponents. So it’s important, Setmayer said, that the media continue to cover both Trump and the flood of books about him.

“It is inconceivable given his behavior that the Republicans give him the time of day,” he said. “He should be a political outcast. But it’s important to put everything in the right context, to point out when you’re not telling the truth. And as long as that is done, I think you have to keep showing what he’s doing. “

The chasing

Trump is not a reader but he knows what is being written about him. According to Politico, earlier this month he awoke to the news, released by The Guardian, of the passage from Bender’s book in which he is said to have praised Hitler.

Trump again denied the comment, Politician said, but he also told an advisor: “That does not mean [former chief of staff] John Kelly didn’t say that to Mike Bender. That doesn’t mean that other people didn’t say it. “

Former jockey helpers to tell their sides of the story. Pence and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, have signed memoir agreements. Trump has even claimed that he is writing his own book, a story that prompted top agents and publishers to search for his longest barges, with which not to touch them publicly.

Trump’s most influential global figures have spoken on or off the record. As a former aide to Politico said: “Right now it is difficult to know who is telling the truth. Everyone tries to go back in time and select their own images. “Everyone has reason to be cautious. Trump remains powerful and angry.

“No one had ever heard of some of these people who worked for me in DC,” he said in another statement this week, adding: “For the first time in their lives they feel like ‘something special’, not the losers that they are -! and they talk, they talk, they talk! “

Reenactments of meetings and key moments feed into Trump’s new books, all written in a style made famous by Bob Woodward, the Post veteran whose third Trump book will be released in September. Extracted from anonymous sources, the scenes are reproduced as if the reporter were in the room, the quotes are reported verbatim. It all adds up to a tantalizing prize for other journalists, vying for the hot new reading.

Keith Urbahn is a former speechwriter and Pentagon chief of staff who co-founder of Javelin, a leading literary agency in Washington. He told The Guardian: “Over the last year, various editors have told us that they are skeptical, that the demand we saw in the final years of Trump’s presidency for political books was necessarily going to decline as soon as he came out. office.

“And our thesis was that it wouldn’t. Maybe it would decrease a bit. But that the desire to understand this critical period in history was to continue. And I think that has been proven. “

Supporters cheer as Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, on July 11.
Supporters cheer as Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, on July 11. Photograph: Andy Jacobsohn / AFP / Getty Images

A look at Amazon’s bestseller list he suggested that Urbahn was right. Leonnig and Rucker led the way, days before publication, with Wolff third and Bender fourth after a few days on sale. Pro-Trump books by Mark Levin and Jesse Waters filled the top five.

The presence of the two Fox News anchors echoed a cautionary note from Setmayer. The in-depth reporting of Trump’s excesses, he said, “further confirms to the more than 80 million who voted for Joe Biden that they made the right decision. Clearly.”

But there were more than 74 million people who still voted for Donald Trump. Does it make a difference to them? I am afraid that for the vast majority of those people, it is not. If anything, it further anchors them in this idea that Donald Trump was somehow the victim, that the ‘deep state’ was certainly after him. And I’m not really sure how to reach those people. “

Most likely, the publishing world never will. But as Urbahn put it, many other readers “look back on the Trump era with a mixture of anger, surprise and shock. I think books are a great way to make sense of that story in a way that the daily drum of news and tweets doesn’t. It’s not possible. Only books are really a way to do that. “

The record

Journalism, the cliché goes, is the first draft of history. Books based on journalism are therefore considered the second.

Setmayer said: “I think the books of the most credible journalists are doing that, versus the most lewd. We can let history be the judge. “

When asked to judge, historian Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton aide turned Lincoln biographer, cautioned that the story the books are trying to write is not over yet.

“I would be pleased to regard this as something comfortably in the past,” he said. “The insurrection that Trump organized and coordinated and paid for revealed weaknesses in the system that the entire Republican party is now dedicated to filling, not only through suppressing voters but also suppressing future elections.

“All of this shows how dangerous Trump remains.”

And why are the books about him sold.


www.theguardian.com

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