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Wednesday, July 4, 2018
“The evidence we already have suggests that Donald Trump is a traitor”-Pulitzer-winning reporter David Cay Johnston
“The saga of President Donald Trump consists of several parallel and intersecting stories. There is the structural dimension. Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton was not entirely unpredictable or shocking. America's crisis in civic literacy, political polarization, rampant anti-intellectualism, deeply embedded sexism and racism, greed, broken schools and weakened democratic institutions, as well as a hollowed-out public sphere where people confuse celebrity with human worth, made the election of someone like Trump nearly inevitable.
“There is Donald Trump the man, who seems to revel in the very worst human values. His closest family members -- including his father and grandfather -- taught him the ‘value’ of unrepentant greed and ambition. He also displays the symptoms of malignant narcissism, as well as sociopathy. In all, Trump is a master of manipulation who leads a political cult.
“How do these factors combine to form Donald Trump's presidency and the type of society that he and the Republican Party want to create? Are matters actually worse than they appear, in terms of how we assess the political and social crisis of Trump's presidency? What strategy should Democrats use to stop Trump and the Republican Party? If Trump is removed from office because of his increasingly obvious efforts to obstruct justice, how will his public respond? Will there be violence?
“In an effort to answer these questions, I recently spoke with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston. For 30 years, Johnston has covered Trump's life and career, as detailed in the bestselling book ‘The Making of Donald Trump.’ His new book is ‘It's Even Worse than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.’
“I think it is very important for religious Americans to know that Donald Trump says that his personal philosophy of life is revenge. He has called anyone who turns the other cheek -- which is a fundamental teaching of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount -- a fool, an idiot or a schmuck. Trump is a man who says things that are absolutely contrary to the teachings of the New Testament. He also denigrates Christians. Yet you see all of these ministers endorsing him.
“I've followed Donald for 30 years. I don't see any evidence that he has changed, and he certainly hasn't repented, which is a fundamental Christian obligation. He is a racist through and through. He has been found in formal judicial proceedings to discriminate against nonwhites in rentals and employment. It's important to understand that Trump is aggressively anti-Christian, despite claiming to be one. He is bluntly a racist. Most importantly, he is literally ignorant about almost everything.
“Trump's voters will not abandon him under any circumstances. He leads the Republican Party and thus has its news media and other resources at his disposal. Some folks believe that there will be a ‘blue wave’ of Democratic votes that will wash him and the Republican Party out to sea in 2018 and 2020. I don't see that happening. I think Trump wins in 2020. Am I being too cynical?
“No. That's the whole point of the first chapter of my book, ‘President Like No Other.’ The 44 previous presidents were all over the map. There were smart people and dumb people, there were people of impeccable integrity such as Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter; there were absolute scoundrels like Warren G. Harding. We had a murderous racist in the White House whose painting hangs in the Oval Office, now looking down on Trump. What distinguishes all those presidents, particularly Chester Arthur, the one closest to Trump, is that they tried in the context of their times to make America better.
“If you were going to consult with the Democratic Party about how to defeat Trump and the Republican Party, what would you suggest?
“This is a crucial point. People who've been had by con artists are ashamed, and the world is full of cases. I've written about some of them; you see it in movies and TV shows. They just can't face the fact that they were tricked. It makes them feel stupid and foolish. Well, people who got conned by Trump -- it's painful for many of them and they will do anything to avoid it. You don’t want to confront them, you don't want to make them feel stupid.
“What do you think will happen with the Mueller investigation? Trump is not acting like an innocent person.
“Mueller is going to report on tax fraud; he's going to report on the Russians, and he is going to show that the Trump campaign was knowingly being helped by the Russians. Remember that the Australian, Dutch and British intelligence agencies, and maybe others, went to the FBI, State Department and other contacts and said, ‘You folks have a problem.’
“Where exactly Mueller will go beyond that, I don't know. His mission is the Russians, and the Russians are tied in with the tax returns. But remember this: the job of a prosecutor is not to bring the perfect case, it's not to bring the case that should be brought for political reasons. It's to bring the easiest, most solid case that wins. Mueller will do that. There is nothing that prevents indicting a sitting president, but it is an untested issue. Mueller is going to have to decide whether to indict him or to go to Congress.
“There is no good ending to the story. America will survive this, we'll get past it, but whenever Trump leaves, there's no good ending. 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.
“As Malcolm Nance and others have warned, Russia's interference in the 2016 election and likely infiltration of Trump's inner circle could be one of the worst intelligence disasters in American history, a failure of Benedict Arnold or Rosenberg proportions.
Chauncey DeVega is a politics staff writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at Chaunceydevega.com. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.