On the surface, Donald Trump seems simple, to put it kindly. To the untrained eye, that may be true, but a more seasoned study of the bumbling 45th POTUS reveals a far more layered, complex individual… though still a very, very stupid one.
Enter Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston, an investigative journalist with over 30 years experience covering the real estate magnate turned reality TV star president. That particular experience spawned his book The Making of Donald Trump which eventually required an update in the form of his newest work, It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.
Johnston recently sat down with Salon to discuss his new work and offer some insight into the destruction brewing under the orange facade.
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“Let me be very clear and quotable about this. At an absolute minimum, Donald Trump has divided loyalties, and the evidence we already have suggests that Donald Trump is a traitor,” Johnston stated. “In fact, I would say that the evidence we already have, the public materials such as emails for example, strongly indicate that Donald Trump is a traitor.”
He credits this to Trump’s “comfort with organized criminals,” a trait which he inherited from his father and his grandfather. Both men taught Trump the “value” of ruthless greed, which turned Trump into, as Johnston put it, “a man with this desperate need for adoration… an empty vessel, the exact opposite of Henry David Thoreau — a ‘life unexamined.'”
This, coupled with a direct tie to the Gambino crime family via his father’s business partner, Willie Tomasello, gave birth to the con man who successfully tricked the most vulnerable Americans into faithfully serving him – a con essential to Trump’s continued success, according to Johnston.
“Well, people who got conned by Trump — it’s painful for many of them and they will do anything to avoid it,” Johnston pointed out. “You don’t want to confront them, you don’t want to make them feel stupid,” a valuable lesson to take into the 2018 midterms, which he indicates are essential to the preservation of democracy.
Democrats and progressives around the country are heavily anticipating, if not expecting, a “blue wave” in the midterm elections. Johnston admits that history indicates a shift will likely occur in both the House and Senate in favor of Democrats, but given gerrymandering and other voter suppression efforts, plus the potential for the democratic complacency seen amidst the expected “blowout” between Clinton and Trump, Republicans could retain control. If they do, the real problems will begin.
“If Republicans retain control, then I believe what will happen over time is that someone who shares Trump’s dictatorial and authoritarian tendencies but doesn’t have his baggage — someone who is a competent manager and just as charismatic — will eventually arise and you can kiss your individual liberties goodbye. That will take time, but it’s the trend we are heading towards.”
As such, Democrats have the tools at their disposal to capture this election.
“This is a crucial point. People who’ve been had by con artists are ashamed… They just can’t face the fact that they were tricked. It makes them feel stupid and foolish.”
Johnston believes, if the Democrats can fulfill their “first and fundamental mission” to “tell people what [they] are for,” without resting entirely on being anti-Trump and further alienating those he conned into loving him, they stand a chance.
“Being against Trump doesn’t get you very far. It will get you some people who hate Trump… What you want to say is: We will get the incredible burden of health care off the back of small businesses; We will put more money into education and basic science; We want investments at home that will create jobs.”
He makes additional suggestions in the full article.
The reason Johnston is so concerned about the nuances of Trump’s connection to his base lies in the implications of what Mueller knows and the nature of the case he is building. Johnston points out that “the job of a prosecutor is not to bring the perfect case… it’s to bring the easiest, most solid case that wins.”
Should Johnston be correct, and Mueller finds evidence which incriminates Trump as a traitor or something similar, then Pence is out, too. Provided that the “blue wave” does wash over Washington, and Congress moves forward with the impeachment of both men, the country would be lead by President Nancy Pelosi.
A far superior choice for liberals and progressives (though possibly not the best choice overall), but a stalwart, embarrassed Trump fan base would scream “coup d’état” at possibly the only person conservatives hate more than Clinton and Obama.
“If Trump is removed by impeachment or by the voters, whether in a Republican primary or a general election, I know what he will do. He’s already told us what he will do by his actions. Trump will spend the rest of his days fomenting violence and revolution in this country.”
A valid point, and a reason to support Mueller and democratic efforts to protect him as fully as possible.
As for Donald, it seems most important to Johnston that we continue to keep him in check as much as possible. His ego is his only true weak spot, after all, as Johnston reminds us, “[Trump’] only philosophy is the glorification of Donald.”