If you found Donald Trump insufferably malicious, vindictive, and just plain old evil before he was about to be acquitted by Republican Senators in a mockery of a fair and independent impeachment trial, you may have to open your thesaurus to find harsher words to describe how he’s likely to act after he begins to claim vindication in the House Democrats’ attempts to bring him to justice.
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Like King Kong busting loose from his manacles, an unleashed and unconstrainable Trump will be a menace to society as he seeks revenge against all who tried to restrict him as he tried to assume the mantle of the king of political beasts.
Vanity Fair‘s special correspondent Gabriel Sherman spoke to one “prominent Republican” last week who told him what members of the president’s own party expect to see happen — and the answer makes the GOP leadership’s stunning abandonment of the rule of law in their failure to uphold their constitutional duties all the more egregious.
“It’s payback time,” Sherman’s source told him.
“He has an enemies list that is growing by the day,” another GOP luminary confirmed.
That list is remarkably non-partisan, with the names of Democratic adversaries like Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Jerry Nadler (D-CA) mixed in with insufficiently supportive Republicans such as Senator Mitt Romney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
“Trump’s playbook is simple: go after people who crossed him during impeachment,” Sherman says in an unattributed quote.
By that standard, Bolton should be at the top of Trump’s list, a speculative theory confirmed by several of Sherman’s GOP sources.
The enormity of the coverup orchestrated between the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be so much less obvious were it not for the leaks from the hawkish former advisor’s upcoming political memoir of his time in the Trump administration — leaks that still couldn’t prevent the Republican coverup of their shameful proceedings, but that certainly made the illegitimacy of the impeachment trial obvious to all but the most in-denial among the president’s cult.
Bolton’s assertion that he had direct first-hand evidence of the president’s guilt in the Ukraine extortion scheme — and Trump’s refusal to allow him to testify — prove Trump’s culpability in both articles of impeachment lodged against him.
The president did not even wait until the sham senatorial exoneration was complete before beginning his vengeful counter-attack against Bolton, sending a letter to Bolton’s attorneys claiming that his former security advisor’s book contained classified materials and could not be published in its current form as scheduled next month.
The unprecedented political weaponization of the Justice Department under Trump and his staunchly partisan Attorney General William Barr — in a manner not seen since the days when J. Edgar Hoover ran the FBI as his personal fiefdom — was emphasized by one of Sherman’s sources who said:
“Trump has been calling people and telling them to go after Bolton,” confirming that the president wants a criminal investigation into his National Security advisor’s handling of classified information opened up at his whim.
We can likely expect chants of “But his emails!” at the next Trump rally when Bolton’s name comes up as a target of Trump’s defamation campaign.
In the meantime, Sherman says that one former administration official tells him that:
“The White House is planning to leak White House emails from Bolton that purportedly allege Bolton abused his position at the National Security Council. The official said that West Wing officials have discussed releasing emails ‘showing [Bolton] was doing pay-to-play,’ the official said.”
How would such a leak be any different from the mishandling of classified info that Trump is accusing Bolton of committing?
To quote former President Richard Nixon — who, for all his many, many faults, at least had the sense to resign before his impending impeachment reached the trial stage — “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal,” as Nixon told journalist David Frost in the historic series of interviews he conducted with the disgraced ex-president.
If, as expected, the Senate votes to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump on Wednesday, Trump will be once again unshackled and ready to wreak havoc on his perceived enemies.
Where’s Fay Wray when you need her?
You can read the entirety of Gabriel Sherman’s Vanity Fair article on Trump’s plans for revenge on his enemies here.