Start with the supposed moderator, Chris Wallace. It became obvious five minutes in that Donald Trump’s strategy was to interrupt, yell, insult, and disrupt as often as he could. This is a strategy that can work only if no one gets in the way of it, and Chris Wallace just let it go on. Maybe Wallace was caught by surprise by Trump’s bellicosity and primate-dominance. (But—c’mon.) Even so, two or three minutes of this should have been enough to adjust. He didn’t adjust. And he let Trump roll over him.
Maybe—I don’t know—the negotiated debate rules prevented Wallace from selectively cutting off the speakers’ mics. Even so, there are ways for the people supposedly in charge of an event to demonstrate that in fact they are in charge. Wallace made clear early on that he was not.
Trump’s instincts are taken from pro wrestling, as with his famous stunt of shaving Vince McMahon’s head. Thus Trump was unconstrained by norms or unenforced rules; Wallace did not enforce the rules, and the result, as it would be in a brawl or an unrefereed sporting match, was one person unconstrained by any of the norms of “allotted time” or “take your turn” or “respectful disagreement,” and another who was half the time constrained by those expectations, and the other half taking the bait in some way.
Will either side’s strategy pay off ? I can’t say. And—just for this second—I don’t care. I’ll think about that tomorrow.
But for tonight I’ll say this was a disgusting moment for democracy. Donald Trump made it so, and Chris Wallace let him. I hope there are no more debates before this election. If they happen, I won’t waste another minute of my life watching them.
The modern presidential debate was invented in 1960. We may have seen the end of its useful life this evening.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.
As last week came to a close, six members of George W. Bush’s White House cabinet had thrown their support behind Joe Biden’s 2020 candidacy: former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman, former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, former Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, former Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, and former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta.
Over the weekend, a seventh emerged. Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor and former Homeland Security secretary in the Bush/Cheney administration, wrote this op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer, announcing his support for Biden.
So much is at stake. For me, voting is not just a privilege, but a responsibility. And this year, I believe the responsible vote is for Joe Biden. It’s a vote for decency. A vote for the rule of law. And a vote for honest and earnest leadership. It’s time to put country over party. It’s time to dismiss Donald Trump.
Ridge, a lifelong Republican, added that the current GOP president “lacks the empathy, integrity, intellect, and maturity to lead. He sows division along political, racial, and religious lines. And he routinely dismisses the opinions of experts who know far more about the subject at hand than he does — intelligence, military, and public health.” Biden, meanwhile, “has the experience and empathy necessary to help us navigate not only the pandemic but also other issues that have fractured our nation, including social injustice, income inequality, and immigration reform.”
A day earlier, two former Republican members of Congress — Oklahoma’s Mickey Edwards and Hawaii’s Charles Djou — also announced their support for Biden. In a Roll Call op-ed explaining their decision, Edwards noted that he’s “a founding trustee of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank and a former chairman of the American Conservative Union.” That’s not a background one expects from a supporter of the Democratic presidential ticket.
“Joe Biden is not a perfect man, but he is a man of humble decency,” they wrote. “America needs a restored sense of national unity, basic civility and true character in our president. After four years of reckless Trumpian chaos and division, we believe it is time for a new president and ask that you join us.”
In isolation, it might be easy to look past endorsements like these, but seen in context, an extraordinary pattern emerges. Circling back to our earlier coverage, there’s simply no precedent in the American tradition for so many members of one major party publicly throwing their support to the nominee of the other party.
Every four years, voters will see a handful of partisan apostates throw their support behind the other party’s nominee — Georgia’s Zell Miller, for example, delivered an unfortunate keynote address at the Republican convention in 2004 — and these isolated voices are often exaggerated to make it appear as if White House hopefuls enjoy broad, bipartisan support.
But 2020 is qualitatively and quantitatively different. There’s no modern precedent for the sheer volume of high-profile Republicans rallying behind the Democratic ticket — a list that includes former governors, senators, U.S. House members, cabinet secretaries, and even some Republicans who worked as a member of trump’s own team.
To the extent that there’s a group of discouraged GOP voters waiting for allies to tell them it’s OK to choose Biden over Trump, the message they’re now receiving couldn’t be clearer.
If Arizona flips from red to blue this year — and according to most polls, that appears highly possible — it would be a historical outlier: The state has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1952, except one.
But it probably wouldn’t be a blip.
Arizona has been trending blue for years, driven by its increasingly ethnically diverse electorate and growing Democratic strength among suburban voters.
“The state’s clearly in motion,” said Paul Maslin, a veteran Democratic pollster. A victory there for Joe Biden, Maslin added, “would be a furthering of those trends: the Latino vote locking in for Democrats, but also a suburban vote — around Phoenix and Tucson — moving Democratic.”
When Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 3.5 percentage points in Arizona in 2016, he captured only 48% of the vote — less than any winning candidate in the state since Bill Clinton squeaked by with a rare Democratic victory in 1996.
Today, with most Arizona voters telling pollsters that they disapprove of how Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic, surveys consistently show Biden with the advantage.
And in the race for the Senate seat once held by John McCain, the Democratic challenger, Mark Kelly — a retired NASA astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — leads the Republican incumbent, Sen. Martha McSally, among likely voters by anywhere from 1 percentage point, in a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, to 8 points, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll out this week.
If Kelly wins the Senate election, Biden prevails in Arizona, and there is no change in the state’s House delegation — which Democrats now narrowly control — Arizona will be more solidly blue than at any point since the civil rights movement.
When the pandemic struck and the country’s economy hit the rocks, Trump found his most powerful argument for reelection thrown into jeopardy. That was particularly true in Arizona, where business had been booming. Corporations across industries — including tech, insurance and defense contracting — had opened new operations in the state in recent years, bringing high-paying jobs by the tens of thousands.
Partly as a result, Phoenix and its surrounding county, Maricopa, are now the fastest-growing city and county in the country, according to census data. On average, more than 250 people move to the Phoenix area each day.
A few years ago, a flood of good jobs into the suburbs around Phoenix might have been great news for Republicans, bringing an influx of middle-class and predominantly white voters to a county that accounts for 3 of every 5 votes cast in Arizona.
But particularly under Trump, the suburban political calculus has changed. Voters in the suburbs are now far less likely to support him or members of his party than they were just five years ago.
“It used to be that in Maricopa County, if you put an ‘R’ in front of your name, you’d win,” said Chuck Coughlin, a longtime Republican strategist based in Phoenix. Now, he added, “that is not the case.”
In the Times/Siena poll, Biden trounced Trump by 58% to 33% among likely voters in Phoenix. But he was also running even with the president in the rest of Maricopa County, with each candidate receiving 45% support.
Republicans are increasingly forced to stake their political fortunes on the rest of the state — outside Maricopa as well as Pima County, home to the liberal bastion Tucson — where Republicans tend to broadly outnumber Democrats.
If McSally pulls off a victory in the Senate race, it will be thanks to those voters. Among voters outside Pima and Maricopa counties, she enjoyed 50% support compared with Kelly’s 41%, according to the Times/Siena poll.
But in a sign of trouble for the president, he did not lead even among these voters. Biden was at 45%, while Trump had 42%.
Thanks to a large number of retirement communities, the state’s voters skew slightly older than the rest of the country. Census projections suggest that 20 years from now, about 1 in 5 Americans will be at least 65, up from about 1 in 8 at the turn of the millennium. Voters ages 45-64 are slightly underrepresented in Arizona’s population, compared with the country at large.
Once again, just a few years ago, this might have all appeared to be good news for Republicans, who have historically drawn strong support from seniors. In 2016, Trump won voters 65 and older in Arizona by 13 points, according to exit polls. But among Arizonans, as with the nation at large, his support has weakened badly among these voters.
According to the Times/Siena poll, Biden was leading by 51% to 40% among likely voters in Arizona 65 and older.
The Pew Research Center has predicted that this year, for the first time, Hispanic voters will be the largest racial and ethnic minority group in the U.S. electorate, narrowly outnumbering Black voters. In Arizona, where the Black population is relatively small, the fast-rising Hispanic share of the electorate has been crucial to Democrats’ rising strength — though the party has also made inroads with white voters.
Nearly one-third of the Arizona population is Hispanic, up from about one-quarter 20 years ago. And while their vote share usually lags behind their proportion of the overall population, Latinos accounted for roughly 1 in 5 Arizona voters in 2016, according to various analyses.
Exit polls showed Hillary Clinton winning Latino voters in Arizona by about 2-1 in 2016. And in the midterm elections two years ago, Latinos were even more essential to the victory by Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, in a Senate race, supporting her over McSally by 70% to 30%, according to exit polls. (McSally was later appointed to the state’s other Senate seat.)
So far, Biden does not enjoy quite so commanding a lead among Latinos, according to polls. Some have him equaling Hillary Clinton’s margins — but analysts say he has room to grow.
Stephanie Valencia, founder of the political strategy firm EquisLabs, said that Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign during the Democratic primary race had done much to energize voter participation among Hispanic voters, particularly younger women. But Biden’s campaign, she said, has yet to engender the same level of enthusiasm.
Recent EquisLabs polling of Hispanic voters in Arizona showed his support to be particularly weak among Hispanic men younger than 50, who were almost as likely to back Trump as to support Biden.
“The gender divide, particularly in the Latino community, has been especially vast,” Valencia said. “That presents a longer-term potential challenge for Democrats.”
She added, “There’s a fairly large chunk of the electorate that is actually kind of in the middle here and actually needs to be persuaded.”
Voting by mail?
Arizona has been a pioneer in voting by mail, a highly popular practice in the state for decades. In the midterms two years ago, 78% of votes were cast by mail. During the August primaries, with the coronavirus raging, that number jumped to 88%.
But with Trump throwing doubt on the voting process, enthusiasm for mail-in voting has dropped, particularly among Republicans. Less than half of Republican likely voters said they planned to vote by mail, according to the Times/Siena poll.
For Democrats, the number is still high: Three-quarters said they planned to vote by mail.
But unlike some states, Arizona has long allowed for ballots mailed in before Election Day to be counted as they arrive — meaning that the vote tallies we see coming out of the state on the evening of Nov. 3 will probably include most of those sent in by mail.
That means we could see a relatively early election call in Arizona, even as other states sift through millions of uncounted mail-in ballots.
By Ana De Liz September 28, 2020
The co-author of the business advice book The Art of The Deal said President Donald Trump has committed one of the greatest tax frauds in IRS history, after The New York Times revealed that the president paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.
Tony Schwartz doubled-sown on his criticism on Twitter, saying that the president is “a lying, cheating felon.”
“This is one of the great tax frauds in IRS history. He is running a criminal enterprise. This, no matter what the effect is on any given voters, is big, big news,” the author also told Anderson Cooper on the presenter’s CNN show.
According to The Times, the president paid $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017.
The piece states that Trump paid no income taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years, “largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.”
Cooper also asked Schwartz about one of the report’s key sentences, which says that Trump has been “more successful in playing a business mogul than being one in real life.”
The author responded: “What you have here is the middle of Trump’s vulnerability, because he equates his personal worth, whatever amount of worth he thinks he has deep down, with his net worth. And what’s so clear here is that he is a horrible businessman, just as he’s been a terrible president.”
Speaking about the loans and debts that the president will have to pay in the upcoming four years, which the article says amount to more than $400 million, the author said that this should not be one of American’s biggest concerns.
“Relative to the harms that the president can inflict on us if he is re-elected and feels he has no more boundaries and no more barriers, whether or not he has big debts is not going to be the issue that American faces”.
Instead, Schwartz says that Americans will face the “potential of martial law” and the enlistment of law enforcement to “round up his enemies.”
The president disregarded The Times‘ news story as “totally fake” at a news conference on Sunday afternoon at the White House. “It’s totally fake news. Made up, fake,” he said, without specifying whether he had grievances with particular details in the report.
Schwartz has been a frequent critic of the president and has admitted regret over writing his book with Trump.
In May of the same year Schwartz said on CNN: “If I had to rename The Art of the Deal, I would call it The Sociopath.”
“Because he has no conscience, he has no guilt. All he wants to do is make the case that he would like to be true.
“And while I do think he is probably aware that more walls are closing around him than ever before, he does not experience the world in the way an ordinary human being would.”
The White House has been contacted for comment.
An actor doesn’t want to hear a performance made someone feel sick, but that was music to Jeff Daniels’ ears as he played controversial FBI Director James Comey in Showtime’s miniseries “The Comey Rule” (Sunday and Monday, 9 EDT/PDT).
During a break in shooting a pivotal one-on-one scene with Brendan Gleeson’s President Donald Trump – a notorious dinner where Trump asked for Comey’s loyalty – writer-director Billy Ray told Daniels there was a guest on set: Comey himself.
“Jim said, ‘You’ve brought back the uncomfortable, awkward emotions of knowing exactly what was going on and how wrong it was,'” Daniels says of the re-enacted White House encounter, detailed in Comey’s 2018 book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.” “He even said, ‘I feel nauseous.’ When you tell an actor their performance made you feel nauseous, it’s usually a negative, but not in this case. That told me we were doing it right.”
During his FBI tenure, Comey left people on both sides of the aisle feeling ill after actions he took in investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails and, later, Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, and its ties to Trump’s campaign.
The first part of the miniseries focuses on events leading up to the 2016 election; the second follows its aftermath, featuring once-anonymous officials who have become semi-household names, including Sally Yates (Holly Hunter), Andrew McCabe (Michael Kelly), Peter Strzok (Steven Pasquale), Lisa Page (Oona Chaplin) and Rod Rosenstein (Scoot McNairy).
Jennifer Ehle plays Comey’s loving wife, Patrice, who worries about the consequences of her husband’s actions. William Sadler plays national security adviser Michael Flynn, with Kingsley Ben-Adir as President Barack Obama.
Daniels (“The Looming Tower,” “The Newsroom”), 65, says the miniseries doesn’t take Comey’s side but reflects the thoughts expressed in his book. Comey was fired by Trump just a few months after the January 2017 “loyalty” dinner.
“It’s Comey’s point of view. We know Trump’s version of the story and that is that Comey is a liar. OK, here’s the other side,” he says.
Ray, who has examined real-life figures in films such as “Captain Phillips,” “Shattered Glass” and “Richard Jewell,” says he used Comey’s book as “a jumping-off point” and consulted with him during production, but did his own research and interviews.
He found nothing “that brought into question anything that was in Director Comey’s book, so it wound up being a pretty good template,” he says, adding that he doesn’t see the series as pro-Comey or anti-Trump.
“The job of the (miniseries) was to tell the story of how heartbreaking it can be to be a public servant. Jim Comey’s a pretty dedicated public servant and seems like a great protagonist,” he says. “And Trump, in that respect, is a great counterweight because he is clearly not a public servant.”
Ray vigorously disagrees with the contention that Comey’s cost Clinton the presidency when he notified Congress 11 days before the election that the FBI was reviewing emails related to the earlier server investigation.
“I know that not to be true,” he says. At one point, he had believed it,and told Comey as much when they first spoke. “But I have since been educated, and no less than (former Director of National Intelligence) James Clapper told me that the critical component in the 2016 elections was the Russians'” interference,
Ray sees Comey’s integrity as his greatest strength and his “terrible political instincts” his biggest weakness. Asked if Comey’s values led to hubris, he says, “He has a very strong moral rudder and doesn’t deviate from it. And I think there were times where he felt that moral rudder outweighed other political considerations.”
Daniels found Comey’s situation more complicated than he’d realized, and says the miniseries shows how the FBI director and his colleagues were “between a rock and a hard place.”
“In performing the role, I learned what he was up against when he made some of these controversial decisions. And it’s not as simple as I thought back in October 2016,” he says.
Although Gleeson has the Trump hair and 6-foot-3-inch Daniels wore two-inch lifts to approximate the 6-foot-8-inch Comey – “I could act the other three inches” – the actors tried to get deeper into the characters rather than doing imitations.
“Brendan goes behind the eyes of Trump,” Daniels says. “Even though you know all the stuff that Trump says, (Brendan) pulls you in the way great film actors can do, so that you see maybe a private darkness behind the eyes of Trump. That’s what I saw.”
Although Showtime first scheduled the miniseries for December, Ray pushed for “Rule” to air before the Nov. 3 election, and the network relented. He says he’s not telling anyone how to vote, but “there are Americans who do not yet understand how profoundly Russia impacted our election in 2016. If people carry that information into the voting booth in 2020, that would be a really healthy thing.”
Daniels, who hasn’t made a presidential endorsement, says “Rule” gives voters something to consider.
“We weren’t nearly as informed as we needed to be four years ago. I think we’re in a better place now. We’ve now had four years of Trump and what he’s going to do or not going to do,” he says. “We can make a smarter decision about what direction this country should go in.”
By Dan Rather
Can critics of President Trump learn something from pro-democracy movements in other countries?
Most Americans don’t have much experience confronting authoritarian rulers, but people around the globe are veterans of such struggles. And the most important lesson arguably is “laughtivism”: the power of mockery.
Denouncing dictators has its place, but sly wit sometimes deflates them more effectively. Shaking one’s fist at a leader doesn’t win people over as much as making that leader a laughingstock.
“Every joke is a tiny revolution,” George Orwell wrote in 1945.
American progressives have learned by now that frontal attacks aren’t always effective against Trump. Impeaching Trump seemed to elevate him in the polls. A majority of Americans agree in a Quinnipiac poll that Trump is a racist, yet he still may win re-election. Journalists count Trump’s deceptions (more than 20,000 since he assumed the presidency) and chronicle accusations of sexual misconduct against him (26 so far), yet he seems coated with Teflon: Nothing sticks.
America has had “Baby Trump” balloons, “Saturday Night Live” skits and streams of Trump memes and jokes. But all in all, Trump opponents tend to score higher on volume than on wit. So, having covered pro-democracy campaigns in many other countries, I suggest that Americans aghast at Trump absorb a lesson from abroad: Authoritarians are pompous creatures with monstrous egos and so tend to be particularly vulnerable to humor. They look mighty but are often balloons in need of a sharp pin.
Even before it collapsed, the moral authority of the Soviet Union had been hollowed out by endless jokes. In one, a secret policeman asks another, “What do you think of the regime?” Nervously, the second policeman replies, “The same as you, comrade.” At that point the first one pulls out handcuffs and says, “In that case, it is my duty to arrest you.”
Are the stakes too serious to laugh? Does cracking jokes devalue a democracy struggle? I don’t think so. One of the most successful examples of laughtivism came two decades ago when university students took on the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia. Milosevic committed genocide and isn’t an obvious target of humor — but the students’ wit helped topple him.
A typical stunt: They taped a picture of Milosevic on the side of a barrel and invited passers-by to take a swing at it with a baseball bat. The resulting photos of the police “arresting” the barrel and hauling it away were widely publicized and made Milosevic seem less mighty and more ridiculous. In 2000, Milosevic was ousted and handed over to an international tribunal to be tried for war crimes.
Here in the United States, we’ve also seen the power of wit. One of the most effective critics of “Boss Tweed” and Tammany Hall in the 19th century was Thomas Nast, the cartoonist. And Senator Joseph McCarthy’s nemesis, and the man who coined the term “McCarthyism,” was the cartoonist Herblock.
(Don’t tell my editors, but cartoonists, now an endangered species, are often more incisive social and political critics than columnists.)
In South Africa, the cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro skewered President Jacob Zuma so deftly and often that he was arguably one reason Zuma was forced to resign in 2018. Zuma sued Shapiro, whose response was a cartoon in which Zuma rages that he will sue for “damage to my reputation.” Shapiro coolly responds, “Would that be your reputation as a disgraced chauvinist demagogue who can’t control his sexual urges and who thinks a shower prevents AIDS?”
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak was toppled the same year in part because of the work of another cartoonist, Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, who persevered despite prosecutions and physical attacks.
That’s one gauge of the power of humor: Dictators fear mockery. The Committee to Protect Journalists says it has intervened this year alone to defend seven cartoonists around the world who were arrested, threatened with prosecution or threatened with death.
In Russia, the dissident Aleksei Navalny uses withering sarcasm in his efforts to bring democracy to Russia. Navalny, now recovering in Germany from what apparently was an attempt by Russian officials to murder him with Novichok nerve gas, responded to Russian suggestions that he had poisoned himself:
“I boiled Novichok in the kitchen, quietly took a sip of it in the plane and fell into a coma,” he wrote on Instagram. “Ending up in an Omsk morgue where the cause of death would be listed as ‘lived long enough’ was the ultimate goal of my cunning plan. But Putin outplayed me.”
Leaders like Trump who pose as religious are particularly easy to skewer, as Iranians have shown in their use of humor to highlight the hypocrisy of their own mullahs. Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi is still nicknamed “Crocodile” because of a cartoon many years ago by Nik Kowsar, who now lives in exile in America because hard-liners arrested him and threatened to murder him.
No, I won’t be drawing cartoons or trying stand-up. I know my limitations. But I’m frustrated by the lack of traction that earnest critiques of Trump get, and I think it’s useful to learn lessons about how people abroad challenged authoritarians and pointed out their hypocrisy with the simple precision of mockery.
I’m also frustrated that some forceful criticisms of Trump sometimes come across to undecided voters as strident or over the top. People like me are accused of suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, and our arguments are dismissed precisely because they are so fervent
Something similar happens in many countries. Citizens who aren’t political are often wary of pro-democracy leaders who are perceived as radical, as irreligious or as over-educated elitists. But those ordinary citizens appreciate a joke, so humor becomes a way to win them over.
“The grins of the people are the nightmares of the dictators,” wrote Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 while in prison. He is best-known for his eloquent essays calling for democracy, but he argued that humor is also essential in undermining authoritarian rulers.
Liu generously added — and this may be relevant to a polarized country like the United States — that satirizing an authoritarian is good for the nation because it makes the eventual downfall and transition softer and less violent.
“A clown needs less revenge than a monster does,” he observed.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Friday that the current global order will be upended if leaders across the planet fail to come together to uphold human rights and tackle upcoming threats such as climate change.
Trudeau delivered the grave words in a prerecorded message to the United Nations General Assembly.
“The world is in crisis, and not just because of the last few months,” Trudeau said. “Not just because of COVID-19. But because of the last few decades. And because of us.”
Trudeau described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “wake-up call” and argued that organizations formed in the wake of two world wars — such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank — are no longer effective because of red tape and because countries repeatedly push their own interests.
“There are few consequences for countries that ignore international rules,” Trudeau said, alluding to incidents in nations such as Russia, China and Iran without specifically naming names.
“For regimes that think might makes right. Few consequences for places where opposition figures are being poisoned while cybertools and disinformation are being used to destabilize democracies. Few consequences when innocent citizens are arbitrarily detained and fundamental freedoms are repressed. When a plane of civilians is shot from the sky. When women’s rights are not treated as human rights. When no one has any rights at all.”
The prime minister argued that the world would soon face a “climate reckoning” and that the inability of nations to unite was a sign that the world was in “deadlock.”
“The international approach we relied on since the second half of the 20th century was built on an understanding that countries would work together,” Trudeau said. “But now the same countries are looking inward and are divided. We need to recognize where we are. The system is broken, and the world is in crisis. And things are about to get much worse unless we change.”
Watch Trudeau’s entire speech below.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
- Ex-Trump administration officials tend to agree on one thing: Their former boss is a walking disaster.
- Whether they’re four star generals, energy company CEOs, or career civil servants, they paint a frightening picture of an unstable ignoramus in the White House.
- Trump, naturally, calls them bitter liars. Who are you going to believe?
A common theme has emerged from comments made by ex-Trump administration officials. Whether they were four star generals, energy company CEOs, or career civil servants, they all say their former boss is dangerously ignorant, inexcusably incompetent, and frighteningly unstable.
In the face of this consistent and specific criticism from a slew of highly qualified people he hired, Trump’s response has been to call them liars, cowards, bitter or “dumb as a rock.”
The president would have the American people believe that all of these former subordinates — most of them loyal, lifelong Republicans — have got it all wrong. Only he has it right.
The question that Trump supporters or Trump-sympathetic voters need to ask themselves is: Who are you going to believe?
A brief list of ex-Trump administration officials’ testimonials for the president
There’s far too many to recount, so let’s recall just a few of the more high-profile veterans of the Trump White House:
- Trump’s former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, a former president and chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs, reportedly called Trump a “professional liar.”
- Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who prior to joining the Trump administration was the CEO of ExxonMobil, in a meeting at the Pentagon reportedly called Trump a “f**king moron.”
- Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who previously served as an ambassador to the UN and has worked in three Republican presidential administrations, in his memoir called Trump “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed.”
- Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a four star US Marine Corps general who commanded troops in three wars, in a statement in June said Trump “tries to divide us,” that he makes “a mockery of the Constitution” and that “we are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.” He also told veteran journalist Bob Woodward: “The president has no moral compass.”
- Former White House Chief of Staff and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, also a four star US Marine Corps general, has been the tightest-lipped about his time working for Trump. But he did say he agrees with Mattis’ assessment of Trump, and he publicly disputed Trump’s claim that he fired Mattis. That means Kelly effectively called Trump a liar.
Every ex-Trump administration official can’t be a secret Democrat
Nobody circles the wagons, moves the goalposts or changes the subject quite like hardcore Trump supporters.
When audio recordings of Trump bragging that he grabs women by their genitals, Trumpists what-a-bouted their way into Bill Clinton’s sordid past.
When White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump — the president’s son-in-law and daughter — were revealed to have used private email accounts to conduct government business, the same people screaming at Trump rallies to lock Hillary Clinton up simply yawned.
When reports emerged of Trump disparaging fallen members of the military as “suckers,” they dismissed the anonymous sourcing out of hand. Never mind the fact that disparaging military personnel is nothing new for Trump, who has himself been an anonymous source in the media for decades.
It will never matter to Trump’s base that the people who have worked intimately with the president at the highest levels of the administration think he’s a dangerous, dishonest buffoon.
Theirs is a cult of personality.
As long as Trump continues to “trigger the libs,” they’ll abide every easily disprovable lie, every deranged conspiracy theory, and every just plain stupid thing that dribbles out of his mouth.
But the reluctant 2016 Trump voters and Never Democrat voters ought to consider the words of the Trump former administration officials. They’re not secret Democratic activists. They’re staunch conservatives, or in the case of the generals, devout patriots who felt it their national duty to accept the president’s offers.
They’ve all seen Trump’s leadership in action. And they’ve told us it is a horrifying thing to behold. Trump says they’re all liars.
Who are you going to believe?