Trump’s new books are big gossip – but they’re published too late to help
Nothing completes a playlist like a detailed cataloging of how close we got to the destruction of the republic. Just in time for summer, the post-Trump era of revealing tomes and political page-turning is upon us, with at least three best-selling books expected by reporters in the weeks to come.
Judging from the snippets available, these are well-researched and mind-boggling cases, filled with juicy gossip on former President Donald Trump, his coterie of cronies and the people who did their best to avoid the total collapse of America. They include the kind of details that would shut down the press – for those people who always get their news from the papers.
Time and time again, political creatures in Trump’s orbit have remained silent until it was too late to do anything.
According to tradition, the details of these books are selective leakage to various points of sale before posting to hype their outputs. I am guilty of having consumed each of the dripping stories. But the fact that we always seem to be learning these things long past their metaphorical “consumption” date fills me with latent rage.
Juicy info comes from CNN, who “got” a copy of the upcoming book “I Alone Can Fix It” on Wednesday night, written by Washington Post journalists Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. According to Leonnig and Rucker reports, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley was very, very worried about the possibility of Trump plotting a coup after losing the election last year.
The authors write that Milley viewed Trump as “the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose,” according to CNN. Milley finding parallels between Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric and Trump’s big lie, he apparently told his aides: “This is a Reichstag moment.”
And that’s just a nugget. All three books deal heavily with Trump’s post-election lies and the January 6 storming of the United States Capitol. Michael Wolff claims in his book “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump White House” that the line “we are going to walk to Capitol Hill” in the president’s speech before the attack “was improvised, not in the text that his team had prepared “, New York Times critic Nicholas Lemann writes.
Wall Street Journal reporter Michael C. Bender’s book, “Frankly We Did Win the Election,” pays special attention to the so-called Front Row Joes who have attended all of Trump’s rallies and have often been the subject of his previous report. This anecdote, reprinted in The Guardian last weekend, is particularly striking given current attempts to whitewash the insurgency:
One Front Row Joe, Saundra of Michigan, was a 41-year-old Walmart employee. On January 6, in Washington DC, she climbed the west side of the United States Capitol.
“It looked so neat,” she said.
She also said that she and other Trump supporters who stormed Congress did not do so “to steal things” or “to do damage.” They had a different purpose.
“We were just there to overthrow the government.
And more recently, Thursday, a new excerpt from Leonnig and Rucker’s book, published in the Washington Post, explained how various White House officials – including the Vice President’s National Security Advisor Keith Kellogg and Ivanka Trump – tried to get Trump to respond to the violence:
Other White House officials have also pleaded with Trump to unequivocally condemn the violence.
“You have to tweet something,” Kellogg told the president. “No one will watch TV there, but they will watch their phones. You have to tweet something.
He added: “Once the crowds move, you can’t turn them off.”
None of the books are out yet. Leonnig and Rucker’s will officially release on July 20; Wolff’s is due out a week later, on the 27th. Bender’s book won’t be published until August 10, nearly seven months after Trump’s term ends and just under six months after the GOP-controlled Senate has voted the acquittal of the former president during his second impeachment trial.
I have no problem with the authors. It’s not like when Bob Woodward sat on the audio Trump’s true feelings about the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic to use in his book “Rage”. Woodward conducted this interview early in the pandemic, when the former president was condemning mitigation efforts. The immediate release of this information could have helped save lives.
No, my anger is focused on the sources for these journalists. Time and time again, political creatures in Trump’s orbit have remained silent until it was too late to do anything. I am still furious with former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s decision not to testify in Trump’s first impeachment trial, only for confirm that all accusations against Trump were true in his revealing book, which came out over a year later.
Likewise, it appears that perhaps – just maybe – much of the information unofficially provided to Leonnig, Rucker, Wolff and Bender could have been of use to the senators in the second impeachment trial.
What if Milley had been called upon to express his concerns? What if the people who were with Trump on January 6, like Kellogg, had been forced to detail, in public and under oath, the stories that are now appearing in the press?
I’m glad these accounts are finally published. These are essential elements of the dossier, and they push back the historical laundering which is still very much underway. These sources make headlines and important context. It doesn’t change the contempt I have for their silence when it mattered.