In Brief

Trump’s end game: new books paint ‘terrifying picture’ of a president ‘consumed by personal hatred’

A slew of recent releases claim Trump prepared to desecrate the constitution to stay in power

“Donald Trump’s final days in office were even worse than we thought,” said Chris Cillizza on CNN.com. A slew of newly released books paint “a terrifying picture” of a president “consumed by personal hatred” and prepared to desecrate the constitution to stay in power.

In Frankly, We Did Win This Election by Michael C. Bender, we learn that, during the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, Trump called for the army to “just shoot” demonstrators; he retreated to the White House bunker in panic, and when news of that was leaked, wanted to charge whoever was responsible with treason.

“They should be executed,” he yelled. Staff were deeply worried about his authoritarian impulses, said Ben Jacobs on NYMag.com.

In I Alone Can Fix It, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker report that the Pentagon’s top general, Mark Milley, feared Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act to hold on to power, and drew comparisons to Nazi Germany. Milley is an “honourable man”, said Gerard Baker in The Wall Street Journal, but it’s wrong for a general to criticise a recently departed US president in this way.

Milley’s “florid” claim seems to be that he saved the US from disaster in the days before Joe Biden’s inauguration. “They may try to stage a coup,” the general told his subordinates, “but they are not going to f***ing succeed.”

It’s also claimed that Milley stopped Trump from starting a war with Iran – which the president was contriving to keep him in office after losing the election. But all that happened is that Trump held meetings to discuss military options against Iran; in the end, no action was taken. And whatever Trump’s flaws, describing his supporters as “brownshirts”, as Milley did, will add to their sense that Washington regards their grievances as illegitimate.

Another new Trump book, Michael Wolff’s Landslide, makes it clear Milley’s fears were overblown, said Laura Miller on Slate. Trump reacted to his defeat not by calling out the army but by ranting about voter fraud and dispatching the “ghoulish, snivelling” figure of Rudy Giuliani to mount doomed legal challenges.

Wolff says most of Trump’s aides thought he was “off his rocker” and put on a show of appeasing him while ignoring his demands. Yes, Trump had tyrannical impulses, but he was so disorganised and delusional that Wolff concludes that “American democracy was never in real danger”.

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