The “stochastic terrorism model” is one that has often been attributed to international terrorist organizations such as ISIS who have used their propaganda and rhetoric on the internet to inspire “lone wolf” terrorists throughout the world. We have sadly come to see these incidents play out in multiple cities throughout the world and this terror threat remains. On the other hand, what has not been discussed nearly enough is the clear fact that the current occupant of the Presidency of the United States of America also can be clearly defined as someone who is a “Stochastic Terrorist” immune to accountability by those in Congress who seek craven partisanship and pure unadulterated raw power, no matter the long term consequences to the American people and American nation.
When Cesar Altieri Sayoc sent mail bombs to the homes and offices of Maxine Waters, James Clapper, George Soros and others, the media simply dismissed it as the actions of a single individual and dubbed him as the “MAGABomber”. Mr. Sayoc’s lawyers in recent court proceedings have described how Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric led him to become “obsessed with ‘attacks’ from those he perceived as Trump’s enemies.” When members of the media and the Boston Globe pushed back against Donald Trump’s inflammatory and anti-American rhetoric against the free press and the media, a Trump supporter was hatching a plan to shoot up the Boston Globe newsroom as Robert Chain referred to as “the enemy of the people.” On a Saturday morning in Pittsburgh, eleven innocent Jewish Americans were slaughtered by a gunman who used Donald Trump’s caravan rhetoric in which the killer not to be named here believed that Mr. Soros, a philanthropist along with other Jews were trying to bring caravans into America to turn the domestic population Hispanic. Donald Trump not only never apologized to this, but he doubled down. A malignant narcissist at its finest.
The above are only a few examples. There are many other cases of threats against Donald Trump’s perceived “enemies”, to plots disrupted, to acts of violence, murder and terror that have all been connected to Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric. And unfortunately, it happened again today in El Paso, Texas in which Donald Trump’s rhetoric led to the deaths of innocent American civilians, including an infant child. Enough is enough. You can’t defeat an enemy until you call it for what it is. Donald Trump is a stochastic terrorist immune to accountability by power craven allies in Congress who have long sold their souls; and a Roy Cohn type Attorney General who has disgraced the office that he serves. As the good general Colin Powell has said, Donald Trump is a “national disgrace” and an “international pariah”.
Sassan K. Darian is the founder of Facebook.com/StandWithMueller and standwithmueller.us. He is a passionate citizen who believes in putting country before party and reason over ignorance.
Director Mueller, Special Counsel Mueller, may I just refer to you as Mr. Mueller?
Thank you for your life of service and sacrifice. My time is limited so I want to probe into a certain aspect of your report which I believe has not received enough attention.
As anyone who has come to study and read your report has come to learn, every word or sentence placed in the report has a reason or purpose. Is that correct, Mr. Mueller?
Per the Mueller report, Volume 1, page 140 it states that and I am quoting directly from the report, “Manafort briefed Kilimnik on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort’s plan to win the election. That briefing encompassed the Campaign’s messaging and its internal polling data. According to Gates, it also included discussion of “battleground” states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.”
We also know that one of the central obstruction themes in your report per Volume II is the “dangling” of pardons to potential witnesses, targets or subjects of investigations in relation to Donald Trump, his associates and connections with agents of the Kremlin. For example, a passage from Volume 2, page 123 of the report states that “Manafort told Gates it was stupid to plead, saying that he had been in touch with the President’s personal counsel and repeating that they should “sit tight” and “we’ll be taken care of.” We also know as a matter of factual record, that in ruling that Paul Manafort broke his cooperation agreement with the government, Judge Amy Berman Jackson determined that Manafort lied to both the Special Counsel and to the Grand Jury on matters directly having to do with the exchanging of internal polling data and other internal campaign information to a Russian intelligence asset in Konstantin Kilimnik. Is that correct Mr. Mueller?
Director Mueller, Special Counsel Mueller, per your report Volume 1, page 130, “The Office was not however, able to gain access to all of Manafort’s electronic communications” as most of the known transferring of this internal polling information was done via encrypted applications in which your office was not able to obtain these documents, correct?
Continuing on Volume 1, page 130 of the report, it states that “The Office could not reliably determine Manafort’s purpose in sharing internal polling data with Kilimnik during the campaign period.”
My final question for you Mr. Mueller, was your team trying to tell us something about Donald Trump’s campaign chairman exchanging internal polling data to an individual that the FBI and our intelligence community has determined to be a Russian intelligence asset in relation to the potential targeting of “battleground states” as aforementioned in Volume 1, page 140 of your meticulously put together report on Russian interference in our 2016 election? Is this a matter that Congress and other investigative bodies should look into in relation to the possible coordination of members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government in relation to the aforementioned “battleground” states?
Sassan K. Darian is the founder of Facebook.com/StandWithMueller and standwithmueller.us. He is a passionate citizen who believes in putting country before party and reason over ignorance.
Robert Mueller would be the first person to agree that we are often wrong in life and make mistakes and that there is no shame to this statement. Robert Mueller has also been battle-tested whether from his time on the battlefields of Vietnam to standing up for truth and justice for the victims of Pan Am Flight 103. In memorials that he would attend years on after, he would always share of his permanent memory of suffering in Lockerbie that has been forever etched into his mind. Mueller supervised the response to this terrorist attack and tragedy in which 259 individuals perished from the face of this Earth and left behind their suffering families. The point of all this: Mueller cares deeply for truth and justice and to doing things the right way as “In the end, it is not only what we do, but how we do it.”
In the backdrop of everything that is going on with the chaos of this administration on all fronts from the lack of accountability from what are clearly high crimes and misdemeanors in fitting the requirements for impeachment and the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry. Let’s remember one thing, the Mueller report states that “While the OLC opinion concludes that a sitting President may not be prosecuted, it recognizes that a criminal investigation during the President’s term is permissible.” And it continues, “The OLC opinion also recognizes that a President does not have immunity after he leaves office” (Vol. 2, pg. 1, Mueller report). An often not discussed aspect of the Mueller report lies hidden in plain sight in the very last pages in the appendix. Mueller has referred fourteen possible criminal prosecutions to outside his office to “appropriate law enforcement authorities” in principally “other components of the Department of Justice and the FBI.” Out of the fourteen referrals, only two have been unredacted. One of them being Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer and longtime fixer who is currently serving a prison sentence in Otisville, New York for crimes directed by his ex-boss and current President of the United States, Individual-1. In the last two weeks, we have seen more court victories against Donald Trump from the disclosure of his finances to other important rulings that have been paving the way for Congress to fully and wholly have access to all his of his financial documents, period. There is nothing Donald Trump will be able to do to stop this legislative oversight mandated and provided by our Constitution. We need to be on guard that Attorney General Bill Barr does not meddle into these other potential criminal referrals. This is in my opinion of vital importance given the recent development in which the Attorney General was granted expansive new powers and intelligence capabilities via an executive order courtesy of Donald Trump.
What we have come to learn so painfully and sadly for our country, is that there are no lows for Donald Trump. He has and will continue to swoop lower and lower in defying our norms in his attempt to tear down our institutions and the rule of law in his dying throes.
Robert Mueller testifying in front of Congress will help clear the record and preserve history. It will also allow a more fact-based whole picture of the investigation for the American public. Mr. Mueller has already agreed to testify before a closed door setting and to offer a public opening statement. Yes, he needs to testify publicly. A public setting in which facts and country loyalty triumphs party politics and loyalty to dear leader. It may take a Congressional subpoena to have Mr. Mueller, the man of law and order feel compelled to then testify under a lawful and legal subpoena. When Mr. Mueller is called upon to testify publicly, it must be one in which focused questions and an action plan forward are ready to go in terms of voting for impeachment or some other important hearing resolution. The question of impeachment is not one of “if” but “when”. History must indeed be recorded accordingly. At the same time, there are ironically in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, “known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.”
Robert S. Mueller III will testify. In the words of Bob Mueller, “Integrity, Service, Patience.” As he has said, “true patience is required at precisely the moment you least have time for it.” Let’s all cultivate patience. Robert Mueller wrote an unprecedented letter to Attorney General Bill Barr twice expressing his concerns for the misrepresentation of his report. One only goes on paper to record the situation in history while making sure there is a paper trail to express that fact to people outside the immediate recipient of the letter. The only other time Mueller wrote any letter of any kind to any other individual in a similar circumstance that we know of is when he wrote his displeasure and dismay over the early release of a terrorist behind the Pan Am 103 bombing to Libya from Scotland. Bob Mueller knows his place in history will be of significance. He has humility. When he is called upon to testify, he will be there in the front line of the battlefield as he has for our country and our people from his very earliest days.
Patience and humility my friends. The only way to ensure truth and justice through the rule of law for Donald Trump will be to make sure he is defeated in 2020. With the last pages of volume 2 of the Mueller report, “The protection of the criminal justice system from corrupt acts by any person – including the President – accords with the principle of our government that “[n]o [person] in this country is so high that he is above the law.”
Sassan K. Darian is the founder of Facebook.com/StandWithMueller and standwithmueller.us. He is a passionate citizen who believes in putting country before party and reason over ignorance.
The question of our age has become, “to impeach or not to impeach”. In starker and more accurate terms, the real question swirling around DC and the political establishment has become whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi should formally open an impeachment inquiry on Donald J. Trump. The moral case to formally opening up an impeachment inquiry is clear: Donald Trump is a reckless President who feels emboldened and desperate in the hopes of tightening his grip on the rule of law into suffocation. Additionally, Attorney General Bill Barr has seemingly become his new Roy Cohn. Congress has a job to do and Mr. Trump has been attempting to impede its legitimate role of congressional oversight.
The impeachment process opens up many doors by simplifying the process into a unified procedural process. A formal impeachment inquiry also simultaneously strengthens the hands of Congress in the courts through precedents, rulings and the application of the letter of the law and most importantly of a strengthening of legal enforcement and mechanisms. The strongest and most applicable argument for opening up a formal impeachment inquiry immediately has been perhaps most importantly, that impeachment proceedings would open up a door for the American public to be able to be more fully informed of the facts, content and description of events that took place as described in the most talked about but possibly least understood series of events known as the “Mueller report”.
The above line of arguments are very compelling and they seemingly become more and more compelling each passing day as we see Donald Trump debase and further degrade the office of the Presidency on a regular and seemingly rolling basis. Donald Trump has done everything in his power to obstruct Congress from its very real and legitimate oversight responsibilities. Documents have not been turned over. Witnesses have been threatened not to testify with the dubious invocation of the President’s use of executive privilege. Donald Trump has attempted to obstruct and defy Congressional oversight, but the courts have demonstrated their independence as a separate branch of government in compelling Donald Trump to adhere to our norms, constitution and the rule of law.
On the other hand, coming from Congressional sources and affirmed by Representative Maxine Waters, Wells Fargo and TD Bank have apparently already turned over Trump-related financial documents to Congress as Congress had requested and the courts had affirmed. These disclosures that we just learned of falls in the shadow of the two most recent court rulings which unequivocally ruled that Donald Trump’s financial records are part of Congress’s role of legitimate oversight as enumerated in the constitution and the letter of the law. The rulings affirmed that Deutsche Bank and Capital One can now turn over the financial documents that Congress has been requesting promptly. This is again in the backdrop of another ruling in which a long-time accounting firm of Donald Trump has also been compelled to abide by the lawful requests of congressional oversight. Beyond the requests from congress being affirmed by the most recent court rulings of the past few days, New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has indicated that Deutsche Bank has already turned over to her office the documents that her office had subpoenaed and requested in relation to Donald Trump. In addition, the New York legislature has been busy at work. The New York legislature passed a law to making certain that the laws in their state are pardon proof in the sense that any potential pardons by Donald Trump of his henchmen will not necessarily result in a “get out of jail free card”. This is especially of vital importance in relation to Paul Manafort. Mr. Manafort is currently serving a prison sentence. A prison sentence in which Mr. Manafort’s lies to the Special Counsel and Grand Jury resulted in the nullification of the cooperation agreement that he had originally agreed to with the Special Counsel. As volume 2, page 123 of the Mueller report states, “Manafort told Gates it was stupid to plead, saying that he had been in touch with the President’s personal counsel” and that they should “sit tight”. Mr. Manafort explained to Mr. Gates, “we’ll be taken care of.” Unfortunately for Mr. Manafort, he is now currently under indictment by Cyrus Vance for mortgage securities fraud in the state of New York. Additionally, the New York State legislature also passed a law making it easier for Congress to obtain Donald Trump’s state tax returns without any impediment or delay. That bill is expected to soon be signed into law by the governor of New York.
The strong push for impeachment and the start of a formal impeachment inquiry is a welcomed one which encourages action and results over complacency and stonewalling. As Representative Al Green recently said while boldly arguing for impeachment on the House floor, “with love of my country in my heart, and belief that the constitution should be honored.” As long as the courts continue to assert their independence and support the separation of branches of our government, the impeachment push and the Pelosi push can coexist with one another at ease. Opening an impeachment inquiry and impeaching this president is an inevitability. The question is not one of “if” but “when”. In this way, when the time is right, the nation will be ready to listen to the public testimonies of Robert Mueller, Don McGahn and others in a formal setting with a less partisan tone and atmosphere. When Mr. Mueller comes to Washington, it must not be for naught but for full public consumption and full public disclosure to the maximum extent that Mr. Mueller sees fit without jeopardizing national security. Without an applicable plan of action to move forward, the public testimonies will fizzle without pushing forward to the necessary public revelations of Donald Trump’s financial entanglements which may very well explain Donald Trump’s subservience to Vladimir Putin.
The push forward for a formal impeachment inquiry must continue in the background of letting Speaker Pelosi in doing her job and producing results as she has demonstrably shown with one court ruling after another. Our founders envisioned the separation of branches of our government, and the courts through the judiciary and its independence are holding up its end of the bargain.
At the end, history and our grandchildren will judge us all and record this unique time in our nation’s history and our actions through a historical and moral context. We all have the same end game: truth, justice and accountability. Donald Trump will not be able to be held into account for his potential crimes past and present until the day he no longer occupies the highest office in the land. As the good Marine and lifelong public servant that Mr. Mueller is, he has requested from us all in the past to “remember that patience and humility are both hard to come by” but that “each will serve you well.” As Bob has said in the past through his own life experiences, “true patience is required at precisely the moment you least have time for it” but that we must “cultivate patience each day” while simultaneously maintaining a “sense of humility” and most importantly never sacrificing our “integrity”. In cultivating this patience and living a life of humility, character, truth and dignity, we can then approach the end of life truly being humble and akin with knowing that our life on this planet has truly been “time well spent.”
“In the end, it is not only what we do, but how we do it.” – Robert S. Mueller III
Sassan K. Darian is the founder of Facebook.com/StandWithMueller and standwithmueller.us. He is a passionate citizen who believes in putting country before party and reason over ignorance. You may contact him by following him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Dr. Lee, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. It truly is an honor and a unique opportunity to converse with someone as you with such a distinguished career in psychiatry and mental health. When did you start to take seriously the notion that the Goldwater rule (https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/goldwater-rule) should not hinder psychiatrists and mental health professionals like yourself and your colleagues from warning the general public about the unique and pervasive threats that someone like Donald Trump poses to our country and to the world at large?
The Goldwater rule is grossly misunderstood, and the American Psychiatric Association’s refusal to engage in any discussion, or even to respond to our suggestions for a revision of the rule, makes me believe its actions are deliberate. Psychiatrists were never supposed to be beholden to a public figure—our primary responsibilities are to patients and to society. The actual Goldwater rule says this: work to improve the community and public health, and when asked about a public figure, to educate the public—just don’t diagnose. Instead, it ballooned the “don’t diagnose” part out of proportion to keep the entire profession silent. Its timing and aggressive public relations campaign make clear its intentions: to protect Donald Trump. It is much like what Attorney General William Barr did: he distorted the law in order to protect power, when he is supposed to defend the law. The American Psychiatric Association similarly distorted professional ethics in order to protect power, when it is supposed to represent ethics (I should clarify that it was the leadership that did this, not its members, who rose up in protest but were ignored). The consequences were chilling, depriving the public of the most critical information at a critical time. It will remain a tragic chapter in the history of the Association, when it acted to become an agent of the state, much like Soviet or Nazi psychiatry. In sum, we have kept with the Goldwater rule; the American Psychiatric Association has not.
As the apparent walls start to close in on Donald Trump with the myriad of investigations facing him and his family, what risks do we face as a people and a country face when a malignant narcissist like Donald Trump sees that his options at avoiding justice and accountability for the first time in his life may not bear fruition or success for someone like Donald?
I would not narrow down on a description of Mr. Trump to being a malignant narcissist—as compelling as it is—and my reason is because it underestimates the scope of his impairments. In other words, I believe there is more wrong with him than just malignant narcissism. It is also irresponsible, since it gives the public what it wants (a “diagnosis”) without having all the information. I have tried to make clear our separation from these “professionals” who have used their credentials for political expediency or have chosen outright to become political operatives—which is a clear violation of professional ethics—because I believe that keeping with ethics will eventually get us further, even if most people equate us with them at first. That said, the patterns are very clear, and we can be sure that Mr. Trump will not stop short of anything to save his grandiose self-image, whether it is stonewalling Congress and defying the Constitution, inciting violent insurrection in his followers, or starting World War III. His unfettered access to nuclear weapons is still a concern, since he has on numerous occasions expressed a fixation to them, has changed policies to make them more usable, and has no concept of or concern for the consequences. Just as with his spectacular business failures during the years he flaunted himself as one of the most successful businessmen ever, when he lost more than any other American taxpayer, he will increasingly be “found out” with time, and when it comes to the point where he can no longer hide, world annihilation will be preferable to him than humiliation.
His unfettered access to nuclear weapons is still a concern
What can you tell us of the new edition of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” that was just released in March 2019?
The second edition of the book is to demonstrate how Mr. Trump’s psychological dangerousness in the office of the presidency has led to social, cultural, and geopolitical dangerousness with time. It has added ten more of the nation’s top mental health experts to the original 27. The expansion of the dangers is why we considered it important to intervene early, and we perhaps had a critical window to act. Thanks to the American Psychiatric Association’s aggressive campaign, his mental health problems went from being the number one topic of national discussion to becoming a taboo subject. Apart from its distortion of the Goldwater rule (https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2017/03/apa-remains-committed-to-supporting-goldwater-rule), its aggressive interventions to shut us down every time we spoke up can be found here (https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/apa-goldwater-rule-remains-a-guiding-principle-for-physician-members) and here (https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/apa-calls-for-end-to-armchair-psychiatry), and the public has been left to fend for itself in an impossible, no-win situation. Outraged at the Association’s failure in leadership, many of its members and officers who resigned, as well as thousands of mental health professionals from around the world, gathered to form the World Mental Health Coalition (https://dangerouscase.org/) and appointed me president. At the second edition’s release, we held a major, interdisciplinary conference (https://www.c-span.org/video/?458919-1/the-dangerous-case-donald-trump) with top experts from around the country in the fields of law, political science, history, social psychology, nuclear science, and climate science, among others, and the chorus was unison: “We need to hear from mental health professionals!” We are also working to form an independent, nongovernmental expert panel, based on medical criteria only, that can consult with governmental bodies to perform fitness-for-duty exams as well as advise on signs of presidential incapacity. It is another way through which we hope to be of public service, in addition to education.
What should we be most worried about over the next year-and-a-half until the 2020 elections; and are there are any predictions that you have about the potential unraveling of Donald Trump that may be facing us as a nation and as a people in the foreseeable future?
That he was more dangerous than the public suspected: he would not “pivot” to become more presidential (or normal) as many expected, but the impulsivity, recklessness, lack of empathy, verbal abuse, and cognitive impairment that we were already seeing was only the tip of the iceberg.
That he would grow more dangerous with time, as his grandiosity swells with the presidency: indeed, he is creating thousands of young orphans and bereaved families, implementing torture with impunity; he is emboldening despots around the world as they commit human rights abuses and murder of journalists; and he has encouraged a widespread culture of hate crimes, white supremacist terrorism, and warmongering in multiple regions around the world.
That he would become increasingly uncontainable: the more moderate voices that checked his abuses of power have been stripped away, as his personnel growingly reflects his psychology of paranoia, delusions of grandeur, and lawlessness; special interests such as the military-industrial complex exploit his psychological weaknesses and advance extreme agendas; and meanwhile, he exploits the vulnerability of his “base” so that they become less amenable to facts and rationality, and less able to protect themselves.
I stand by these predictions, which were made on clinical and research-based probabilities, and anticipate that the situation will only worsen—until enough of an immune response is activated. Otherwise, we will fall into demise with the disease. There is no reason to believe that we are incapable of bringing about our own downfall as many other countries have, but much depends on awareness. That is why we consider it our mission to bring the truth to the public. The power lies in the public, if only it could realize it.
Thank you, Dr. Lee. It was a pleasure being able to share your learned expertise, knowledge and experience in dealing with someone like Donald Trump.
Thank you for your interest and for the good work you do.
We are truly living in a unique time in the history of our nation. I believe very strongly to my core that it is the responsibility of every patriotic American to read the Mueller report, regardless of your politics. If the truth is what we are most concerned about, then this is the action every patriotic and intellectually honest American must take.
Since the release of the Mueller report, Donald Trump has shown no contrition or admitted to any wrong. As is typical of himself and his lack of self-awareness, he has taken the findings of the Mueller report to dismiss the Senate subpoena of Donald Trump Jr. and rant against the other myriad of investigations currently facing Donald Trump and his family. As we have come to learn in the last two years, there appears to truly be no bottom for Donald Trump. Mr. Trump even had the temerity in his now dissolved scheme of sending Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to try to pressure another foreign government to meddle into our electoral process.
Mueller states in his report in Vol. 2 pg. 1, “While the OLC opinion concludes that a sitting President may not be prosecuted, it recognizes that a criminal investigation during the President’s term is permissible.” And he continues, “The OLC opinion also recognizes that a President does not have immunity after he leaves office.” Therefore, in considering whether Donald Trump committed crimes and his culpability of prosecution, one must consider the fact that Mueller was working on a unique report in which he was not able to determine a “traditional prosecutorial judgment”. As the Mueller report notes in Vol. 2, pg. 182, “because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct.” Robert Mueller has presented to us the facts and it is now the responsibility of us as a people and Congress as a body to take up public hearings so that more Americans can have a more thorough and complete understanding of the Mueller report; and what Mueller meant to convey to the American public. The testimony of Robert Mueller himself is expected to occur in the upcoming weeks.
As the majority of the American people have come to learn, Donald Trump is not a mentally balanced individual. Donald Trump exhibits the excessive signs of malignant narcissism; and many world-renowned mental health experts such as Yale’s Bandy X. Lee has broken ranks in speaking out against Donald Trump and discarding the so-called “Goldwater rule”. The “Goldwater rule” was implemented after the Presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater; which has long kept mental health experts from assessing on the mental health of an individual without having assessed them personally. In having become a student of Donald Trump’s life both pre-presidency and now during his administration, it has become more than clear that objectively speaking Donald Trump is a man who has no time in his life exhibited any signs of a moral compass or of first principles. The only first principle that Donald Trump abides by is the first principle of Donald Trump. Therefore, while the Mueller report shows that the “Trump Campaign was planning a press strategy, a communications campaign, and messaging based on the possible release of Clinton emails by Wikileaks”, Donald Trump was denying that the Russians were responsible for the hacked emails that Donald Trump was in fact looking for. Just imagine this scene: Donald Trump as the Republican nominee was in a chauffeured vehicle with Secret Service protection while sitting next to Rick Gates in the back seat. The candidate gets on the phone and speaks with an individual that informs him of future Russian hacked information via Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Candidate Trump used this information that he gained to gloat and coordinate with Rick Gates who was by then the campaign’s deputy chairman. The foreknowledge and lack of scruples means only one thing, that Donald Trump would betray America again in a heartbeat.
We have seen Donald Trump from the beginning of his presidency denigrate groups of people who he has felt threatened by either having the visceral political need to appease his base or seen even more clearly through the various smears of the Special Counsel and the Department of Justice itself when Mr. Trump feels legally threatened. In essence, the rule of law has been under attack. Lady Justice is doing her best to hold on, but it is our responsibility as Americans to ensure that Donald Trump is out of office by 2020. Due to the OLC memo that a sitting President not being indictable, a defeat of Donald Trump at the ballot box not only reaffirms our values as Americans but also allows Donald Trump to be eligible for being served and delivered justice for the myriad of crimes that he may have very well committed and is currently under investigation for. Remember, Donald Trump’s personal “fixer” and longtime attorney Michael Cohen is now doing prison time for crimes directed by who is known as Individual-1 in court documents out of the Southern District of New York. Individual-1 may have continued to become more blatant in his demagoguery in potentially riling up violence among his supporters if he was placed in an even more legally dubious position as sitting President, but now the excuse of legal action while as a sitting President will no longer be at play. It is our responsibility as Americans to share the facts and evidence about the Mueller report to the public; and then be sure that Donald Trump is voted out by the next election so that justice can finally be administered towards those evildoers who have done our country so much harm.
Sassan K. Darian is the founder of Facebook.com/StandWithMueller & standwithmueller.us. He is a passionate citizen who believes in putting country before party and reason over ignorance.
“The Threat” by Andrew McCabe was a wonderfully written account of this senior FBI agent’s life and career and how it juxtaposed with the Russian mafia and in essence ended with the Russian mafia. Early in his career working as an attorney, Mr. McCabe decided that joining the FBI was something that was so innate to who he wanted to be as a person that he took a massive pay cut in order to join the bureau. He started off as a street agent in the New York Field office in 1996 investigating crimes liked to the Russian mafia and associated organizations. At the very end he was responsible in helping to navigate the Trump/Russia investigation which was the biggest mission of his life. This took a drastic turn when former FBI director James Comey was fired and he was then given the responsibility as the deputy acting director for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As Mr. McCabe explains in his book, “my first major case as a newly sworn-in special agent concerned organized crime from Russia. And the ultimate Russian criminal organization – the Russian government itself – created the last significant issue I faced as acting director: interference in U.S. elections, the mechanism of our democracy, which resulted in the appointment of a special counsel to investigate this assault on this country’s core values.”
In the era of Donald Trump, so many of us within the general population have seemingly become so numb to the types of Presidential norms that this President violates and breaks on a seemingly daily basis. In doing so, this has arguably weakened the office of the Presidency of the United States both domestically and internationally in terms of the prestige and democratic norms which have long governed conduct. Arguably much worse than even this is the very real possibility that we currently have a President in the White House who is whether wittingly or unwittingly an asset of the Russian federation. The actions that Donald Trump takes when it comes to Vladimir Putin is not one that puts our national security interests and the dedication of the men and women of the IC ahead of Vladimir Putin and the objectives of the Russian federation. Mr. McCabe was put in a unique position to ensure that the flow of information was able to flow without it being able to be hidden from the American IC and the American people due to the paper trail that he created. In addition to notifying the “Gang of Eight” about the Trump/Russia investigation, Mr. McCabe nudged the investigation enough for Rod Rosenstein who oversaw the Russia investigation to appoint a special counsel. That Special Counsel that is tasked with the most important mission of his life is Robert Swan Mueller, III.
“The Threat” by Andrew McCabe is more than just a Donald Trump thriller but is a story of a mission of one man who through the choices he made along with happenstance played a pivotal role in our nation’s history. Additionally, Mr. McCabe takes us on vivid scenes reenacted in his book from the bizarre meeting with Donald Trump in which he asked him who he voted for and Donald Trump questioning what he thought of his wife being a “loser”. The book paints the scenes of a malignant narcissist who is insecure, petty and anti-intellectual. As Mr. McCabe notes, “Fear is why the president still has a map of his electoral college victory handing outside the door to the Oval Office” so that every time a person enters his office, they are forced to reaffirm his “amazing” victory. The most vivid parts of the book for me personally were the times in which he related to and shared his experiences with then FBI director Robert Mueller. He paints Mueller as a meticulous, disciplined, thorough and painstakingly intricate individual will undoubtedly get to the truth and the whole truth of the extent of Donald Trump’s treachery to our country and to our people.
Author Garrett Graff in The Threat Matrix takes us on a journey of the history of the FBI to the present day circa 2013 near the end of Robert Mueller’s extraordinary 12-year term as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In it, he takes us through this journey starting with the foundation of the bureau and the historically controversial tenure of J. Edgar Hoover to the decades following through to the various threats our country has faced and the responsibilities and actions that the bureau took or failed to take. In doing so, Mr. Graff assists the reader in having a more full and thorough understanding of the bureau through its ups and downs, its successes and failures, and the consequential tenure of Robert S. Mueller III.
The Threat Matrix is given its title by the actual threat matrix that accompanied the PDB or the President’s Daily Brief in the years after the terrorist attacks that shook our nation on that fateful September Tuesday morning in 2001. At first it was chaotic filled with streams of raw intelligence that contained very little actionable intelligence. Robert Mueller himself had become director of the FBI just a week before 9/11 and the changes that Mueller would have to implement at the bureau were drastic and significant. No longer would the FBI serve as simply an investigative agency that solved crimes but rather and most importantly became a counterintelligence domestic organization that sought to prevent terrorist attacks before they happened. As Mueller has said in the past, this shook his foundations as he had become accustomed to dealing with criminal matters as a prosecutor. Nevertheless, Mueller the lifelong Marine that he is hunkered down and implemented drastic changes within the bureau that shook some feathers among the bureau rank and file but when he finally left in 2013, the bureau had become much more efficient and better because of it.
In one of the most important missions of his life, Robert Mueller supervised the terrorist attack that brought down Pan Am Flight 103. For Robert Mueller, walking through Lockerbie where this terrorist attack took place was the equivalent for him of what walking through the rubble of 9/11 would be. As Graff notes, “it was the moment when he rededicated himself to the pursuit of justice” in a very personal way (Graff, 152). In fact, he walked not only the mostly barren landscape but a small wooden warehouse where the items of the victims of this terrorist attack were stored impacted him greatly. He would carry this same zeal and determination for truth and justice for the decades to follow. He had this same drive and determination after 9/11 and there is no doubt that he has this same drive and determination now as Special Counsel in his quest to revealing to the American public the possible treachery of those Americans who may have sold our country out to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
I highly recommend this book for various reasons. The first is the most obvious that it helps the reader learn and understand the historic nature of the development of the bureau from the very beginning of the bureau’s existence traveling to the bureau that Robert Mueller left in 2013. There were failures and successes but the determination of those in the bureau to help protect and persevere against our nation’s enemies have never been in question. Additionally, the reader is able to better understand the trajectory of the bureau with the various crime elements involved whether it has been the Italian mafia, domestic terrorists, international terrorism, the Russian mafia or a whole host of other nefarious actors. And most importantly it helps the reader learn and come to understand the tidbits that reveal the true character and nature of the lifelong Marine, public servant and patriot that is Robert Swan Mueller, III. Garrett Graff in “The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror” through his interviews with Robert Mueller and those that were close to him helps one understand the meticulous, thorough nature of Mueller in his pursuit for truth and justice. As I have always said, history and our grandchildren will judge all of us accordingly.
We live in a time in which there is more information available at our fingertips than ever before in the course of human history. Consequently, it seems as if our attention spans are shortening and the overflow of information available at our disposal has in a way made us less intelligent in terms of basic critical thinking skills which include reasoning and logical skills. For a myriad of reasons this has led to the death of expertise as the author Tom Nichols phrases the cultural phenomenon that has taken root within our society and culture. Lest people believe that this is harmless without any real-world implications, one must not only look at the flow of misinformation and disinformation that flowed within our electoral process. This made it difficult for laypersons to be able to spot and distinguish accurate information from disinformation. This lack of trust in what we can term as a lack of trust of experts within our society has led to the disintegration and widespread distrust of our institutions writ large. Such a breakdown has enabled outside nefarious actors to take advantage of this vulnerability within our society at large and cause further disintegration as we have seen take place since the so-called election of Donald Trump. In order for us to better address this issue with both its causes and solutions, we must better understand the phenomenon that is occurring. In doing so, the author and intellectual Tom Nichols makes a most convincing case of the deterioration of the trust between laypeople and experts and what that means in terms of societal and real-world implications.
The real-world implications of the death of expertise or the campaign against established knowledge do not result simply in the disruption of our political process by outside nefarious actors, but it can result in much more severe and grave circumstances as the author Tom Nichols notes with the “AIDS denialists” phenomenon that took root in the early 1990s (Nichols, 1). There was a small group of these denialists who pushed this phenomenon outside of the United States as it caught root in South Africa when the President at the time Thabo Mbeki took notice of the denialists and what were the spurious claims that were being put out from the other side of the world. Mbeki came to believe that AIDS was not caused by HIV but rather from other factors such as malnourishment (Nichols, 2). As a result, Mbeki and his government refused outside help of drugs and other forms of assistance to help treat the disease which would have helped prevent HIV among newborns which the drugs could assist with (Nichols, 2). As a result of this ignorance and a lack of trust of the expertise of the vast majority of scientists and medical professionals, it is estimated that three hundred thousand lives and the births of thirty-five thousand HIV-positive children could have been avoided if Mbeki had followed the advice of scientists and medical professionals that were urging him to accept outside relief and assistance. Imagine the situation in which the deaths of over 300,000 lives including tens of thousands of children could have been avoided if it wasn’t for this distrust in medical professionals and outside expertise which could have helped alleviate and lessen this problem in which hundreds of thousands of less people would have perished from the face of this Earth. This is the sad consequence and just one example in which a distrust of experts and established knowledge caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people which could have otherwise been prevented. A monstrosity indeed.
Principled, reasoned, informed arguments in which we are open minded to the facts and evidence to changing or altering our preexisting viewpoints are the hallmarks of intellectual and moral honesty. Instead of being skeptical but critical readers of information, so many within society at large have come to not only be skeptics but to actually disdain experts and the concept of expertise. What are the causes of such maladies? There are various reasons and theories that can help explain these phenomena within the various contexts and circumstances in which they occur but I believe based on the evidence and reasoning provided by Mr. Nichols that one significant contributor are the vast amounts of information available at our fingertips. Coupled with a lack of critical thinking skills being taught within our educational system, it has made it more difficult for everyday consumers and laypersons to be able to differentiate between valid sources and information from the vast amounts of junk, disinformation, misinformation and other quackery available freely via the information superhighway. Additionally, what has contributed to this phenomenon has been the advent and widespread use of smartphones in which we are able to stay connected to our devices and our computers twenty-four hours a day. As Mr. Nichols points out, “not only do increasing numbers of laypeople lack basic knowledge, they reject fundamental rules of evidence and refuse to learn how to make a logical argument” (Nichols, 3). Nichols argues and makes a rational and convincing case that “the death of expertise is not just a rejection of existing knowledge” but that “it is fundamentally a rejection of science and dispassionate rationality, which are the foundations of modern civilization” (Nichols, 5). Indeed.
If you were asked a simple question on foreign aid, would you be able to answer it? Before reading further, please take a guess at the following question. How much foreign aid as a percentage of the national budget do, we give to other nations for development and other aid? If you guessed 10% you were quite off. If you guessed 5% you were still off. The amount of the federal budget that constitutes foreign aid is less than three quarters of one percent of our annual budget. Seemingly shocking, the average American when asked this question believes that over 25% of our annual budget goes to foreign aid (Nichols, 27). Without a baseline of facts that we can all agree with, then argumentation and disputation become nearly impossible. This is one of the primary reasons that I believe that the death of expertise and the campaign against established knowledge is so harmful and detrimental. If we are unable to agree to a baseline of facts such as 1+1=2, then how can we progress as a society and as a civilization at large? These are very pressing questions and concerns facing it now as we approach 20 years into the new millennium.
Tom Nichols is a brilliant writer and a brilliant intellectual who has provided his expertise to laypersons like you and me. I highly recommend “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters.” It most definitely does matter.
Glenn Kirschner is a former federal prosecutor who in the past worked personally with Robert Mueller. Mr. Kirschner was a 30-year federal prosecutor with the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office and the D.C. Chief of Homicide. He started his career as an Army JAG also known as the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United States Army. You can follow him on his Facebook page and on Twitter @glennkirschner2.
Mr. Kirschner, thank you for your time. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be able to ask you a few questions. As seen with your exhaustive and illustrated career, you have had a lengthy and experienced tenure working as a federal prosecutor. What made you decide to take such a painstaking but conscientious and rewarding career path?
I wish I had an interesting answer to the question, “why did you decide to become a prosecutor.” But the reality is it was sort of a slow evolution. Before becoming a high school football coach, my father had served in the Army for three years. Even as a teenager, I felt like I wanted to find a way to serve my country. In college, I decided to compete for an Army ROTC scholarship in an effort to cover the cost of my tuition at Washington and Lee University, which would mean I’d be required to serve four years in the Army once I graduated. As my senior year approached, I decided to take an educational delay in my Army service to attend law school at New England School of Law in Boston. In law school, found that I loved the study of criminal law, the Constitution and trial practice. I put myself through law school and then entered active duty with the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
As a JAG, I lucked out and landed an assignment as “Trial Counsel,” which is what the Army calls its prosecutors. I prosecuted court-martial cases beginning in 1988 while assigned to Ft. Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. After three years I was transferred to the Army’s Government Appellate Division (GAD) in Falls Church Virginia. At GAD, I briefed and argued criminal cases on appeal for the government. I briefed and argued on some extremely interesting cases, including espionage and death penalty cases. Upon completing a three-year tour at GAD, I decided to leave the Army and join the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA). I served in DC as a federal prosecutor for 24 years until retiring from federal service.
I found that there were three things that motivated me to spend 30 years as a prosecutor: working with and seeking justice for crime victims, trying cases in court and doing what I could to keep the criminal justice system fair, honest and collegial.
THREE THINGS THAT MOTIVATED ME TO SPEND 30 YEARS AS A PROSECUTOR: WORKING WITH AND SEEKING JUSTICE FOR CRIME VICTIMS, TRYING CASES IN COURT AND DOING WHAT I COULD TO KEEP THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM FAIR, HONEST AND COLLEGIAL
As we see with our institutions and the Department of Justice under constant attack from the current occupant in the White House, do you think that the damage that has been done and is continuing to be done will have a lasting impact on our country and how do you think we will be able to eventually overcome it?
I think it’s beyond rational dispute that our institutions have been and are being damaged every day. The president has worked long and hard to undermine the country’s faith in the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the intelligence community, not to mention the rule of law and objective truth. Having recently retired from the Department of Justice (think of AUSAs as the DOJ’s field prosecutors) I am troubled and saddened by the president’s incessant, unwarranted attacks of the DOJ and its officials. There are more than 100,000 DOJ employees working tirelessly to protect our country, enforce our federal laws and hold criminals accountable. When the president attacks the DOJ and the FBI, he undermines the public’s confidence in our law enforcement agencies and, I believe, runs the risk inspiring lawlessness. People may very well hear the president say the FBI and DOJ are corrupt and conclude that they should therefore not be required to obey our laws. In my opinion, our country is in very deep hole that has been dug by the president and his cronies. It will be a long, slow climb out of that hole, but I believe our country is strong enough to make that climb.
As indicated in the opening of this interview, you have in the past worked with the current Special Counsel of the Trump/Russia investigation. Can you tell our followers a personal characteristic or anecdote about Robert Mueller than can ensure us that justice will be delivered and that his investigation will be able to reach a full and final conclusion?
Bob Mueller was my Chief of Homicide at the US Attorney’s Office in the late 1990s. I learned a great deal from him, not only about how to prosecute murder cases but also how to run the Homicide Section (I served as Chief of Homicide from 2004 – 2010). Bob is probably the single best supervisor I ever worked for. He is an honest, ethical, straight-forward man who is extremely supportive of the people he supervises. However, if you do wrong he will call you on it, counsel you on it, and tell you how you can do better next time. He is both extremely supportive and extremely demanding.
When I joined the Homicide Section in early 1997, I inherited a case for trial that Bob had investigated and indicted. At that point, I had been prosecuting cases for nearly a decade and felt like I knew my way around a criminal investigation. But, when I saw the incredibly thorough investigation Bob had conducted in the case, I realized that I still had a lot to learn. Thereafter, I aspired to investigate cases as thoroughly as Bob did, but I’m not sure I ever fully hit that mark.
You also worked as the D.C. Chief of Homicide. It is public knowledge that Robert Mueller left a plushy job at a white shoe law firm, and instead got a job at D.C. homicide. Was this when you also worked with him? What can you share with us about Bob Mueller’s integrity and pursuit for justice that he would take such a distinctive and morally dignified path by giving up a hefty salary to work homicide?
BOB IS GOVERNED EXCLUSIVELY BY THE EVIDENCE, THE RULE OF LAW AND THE ETHICS OF OUR PRACTICE
Bob made it clear that he did not enjoy private practice. After about one year at a law firm, he chose to come to the DC USAO and be a line guy in Homicide, investigating and trying murder cases. He is a government guy at heart who enjoys holding criminals accountable and protecting our communities. In my experience, Bob is governed exclusively by the evidence, the rule of law and the ethics of our practice. Politics do not enter the equation. I find it laughable when the president keeps complaining about how ‘Mueller is conflicted’ and he is heading up a team of ‘angry democrats.’ When Bob was assembling his team, I am certain that he did not ask the applicants about their politics. That’s just not done. There is no political litmus test to work on a criminal case. If there was, the results of ALL criminal investigations would be unreliable.
Do you personally believe that Robert Mueller will ultimately be allowed to finish his investigation and share the complete truth to the public? You had mentioned that the question of whether a sitting President can or cannot be indicted is an unanswered question and indeed even has legal precedent for the former. Do you think Bob Mueller would consider pursuing such a path?
I believe to my core that Bob Mueller is an innocent man’s best friend and a guilty man’s worst nightmare. As Special Counsel, he will hold all wrong-doers accountable. In my opinion, he will need to answer three questions for himself in deciding how to proceed against the president: 1. Is there sufficient evidence of criminal conduct to support criminal charges, 2. Is there a procedural pathway to indicting a sitting president and 3. Is there any legal prohibition against indicting a sitting president. Needless to say, we are all waiting to see what the evidence is regarding Russian-Trump campaign collusion/conspiracy, cover-up/obstruction of justice, etc. But given what we have seen reported, there seems to be ample evidence of collusion/conspiracy as well as obstruction of justice. Indeed, in my time as a prosecutor, I investigated, indicted and successfully tried conspiracy and obstruction cases with less evidencing then I have seen just in the public reporting. I also believe there is a procedural pathway to indicting a sitting president. Although there is a DOJ Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) policy memo saying that the DOJ will not indict a sitting president, there is an exception that Mueller can ask for under the Code of Federal Regulations (the rules governing Special Counsel) to depart from the general policy. Without getting down in the procedural weeds, there is a procedural pathway to indicting a sitting president. Finally, there is nothing in the Constitution or in Supreme Court case law that prohibits the indictment of a sitting president. Assuming he can answer those three questions to his satisfaction, I think there is a strong likelihood that Mueller will ask the grand jury to indict Trump. I just don’t think he will leave it up to the vagaries of Congress to impeach the president if Bob concludes that the president has committed criminal offenses, particularly if those criminal offenses undermined our free and fair elections.
I BELIEVE TO MY CORE THAT BOB MUELLER IS AN INNOCENT MAN’S BEST FRIEND AND A GUILTY MAN’S WORST NIGHTMARE. AS SPECIAL COUNSEL, HE WILL HOLD ALL WRONG-DOERS ACCOUNTABLE
Any last comments or personal insight about yourself or the rule of law that you would like to share with us?
Without confidence in our public institutions we are in serious trouble as a country. I look forward to a time when wrongdoers are held accountable and we can begin the long, hard uphill climb back to a place of decency, civility, and integrity.
Bob Woodward’s “Fear: Trump in the White House” is the legendary Woodward’s latest insider account of a sitting U.S. President. In this authoritative account honed through hours and hours of meticulous investigative reporting and interviews, Bob Woodward adds his own historical account to the unprecedented chaos and madness that is the current occupant of the White House.
Many in the past have wanted to discount other similar books of insider accounts from authors such as Michael Wolff or from former White House insider Omarosa Manigault Newman. What Mr. Woodward adds that these individuals were not able to provide in their books is the authoritative voice and record of accomplishment that Bob Woodward provides and represents. As for those who simply discount any of the insider accounts written, Mr. Woodward has said that the notes and audio recordings will be provided in the future for the purposes of the posterity of history.
“Fear” is a most accessible read for the average reader with simple to read English provided in a straightforward manner. What this book provides is an outlet for the average American to have a better understanding and narrative of the mindset and mentality of the person occupying the highest office in the land. The level of specific quotes is astounding. “Fear” is truly an insider account that helps the average layperson to have a better understanding of the lack of cognitive intellect, and cognitive decision making that overruns the current inhabitant of the White House. As Woodward states, “The reality was that the United States in 2017 was tethered to the words and actions of an emotionally overwrought, mercurial and unpredictable leader.” Moreover, he continues, “Members of his staff had joined to purposefully block some of what they believed were the president’s most dangerous impulses. It was a nervous breakdown of the executive power of the most powerful country in the world (Woodward, 13). Woodward even provides a primary source document in a draft trade document that was pulled from the desk of Donald Trump by Gary Cohn and Rob Porter. Cohn and Porter who were in high-level positions of the White House as chief economic adviser and White House staff secretary respectively. A document in which Donald Trump was about to compromise and put into jeopardy the U.S. relationship with South Korea with a so-called dispute over trade. In doing so, Donald Trump might very well have jeopardized the THAAD missile system in South Korea. Additionally, the U.S. had an early warning system agreement in which the U.S. would be alerted within seven seconds of a nuclear test by North Korea versus the fifteen minutes it would take if the system were based in Alaska. The sheer level of incompetence and lack of cognitive faculties of the current occupant of the White House poses great threats to the stability of our country to an even greater degree moving forward.
In closing, nearly all those who work for Donald Trump understand him to be an incompetent nincompoop. Bob Woodward provides a narrative in which so many of the top level officials in the White House and those associated with the White House are simply working for this President to “hold the ship” for the country until this Presidency ends. Additionally, the further Donald Trump is stressed, the more he holds on to attempted acts of self-preservation through impulsive actions without any consideration for foresight or long term consequences. As Robert Mueller continues to close in on this President, there is no telling what kind of rash actions this President may take in an attempt to hold on to power and to avoid paying the consequences for his crimes. History and our grandchildren will judge us all and Bob Woodward equips the skeptical layperson in better understanding the chaos and happenings from a temperamentally unfit and ninny of a President.
David Frum is an astute conservative intellectual who was senior speechwriter for President George W. Bush and is currently the senior editor at The Atlantic. He took the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. You can also follow him on his Facebook page and Twitter page.
Mr. Frum, it is a pleasure and an honor to conduct this short interview with you. You mention in your new and prescient book, “Trumpocracy”, the lasting damage of Donald Trump may be the ways that he has violated both the written and unwritten norms of our country – most especially his attack on our institutions – what do you think is the most profound impact this may have on the future of our country and the lasting legacy this may leave behind? You offer hope near the end of the book on how this has galvanized patriots of all political stripes that may have never before been interested in government and civic duties, but in what ways do you think that the Presidency of Donald Trump will leave this mark for future generations to come?
Two impacts already look long-lasting: the harm done to US global leadership – and the degradation of one of the two great political parties.
How can a South Korean or an Estonian or anyone else who relies on US protection ever again fully and entirely trust the word of the United States? Things that once looked impossible have now happened. They are real-world possibilities that people must take into account.
At home, we have seen one of the two great democratic competitors rally around a figure they knew to be corrupt, abusive, authoritarian, and – to a greater or lesser degree -under the thrall of a hostile foreign government. That behavior will be hard to forget.
TWO IMPACTS ALREADY LOOK LONG-LASTING: THE HARM DONE TO U.S. GLOBAL LEADERSHIP – AND THE DEGRADATION OF ONE OF THE TWO GREAT POLITICAL PARTIES
While it is often said that history repeats itself, history is never repeated exactly of course. What parallels of history would you say that the tactics of Donald Trump and the time we live in today remind you?
I prefer the observation of a cherished history professor, “History never repeats itself, it only appears to do so to those who do not pay attention to the details.” I am most struck by the way that Trump – and those like him in other advanced democracies – is new. In the 20th century, would-be authoritarians were impelled by ideology, or at least pretended to be. Trump is a US imitator of the chauvinist repressive kleptocracy we see most fully perfected in Putin’s Russia. It has no positive message at all, it offers only resentment in service of corruption.
As many of our followers know, you were President George W. Bush’s senior speechwriter. Working with 43, what would be the best lessons you learned from him that may have influenced you or left a lasting mark on the person you are today?
I was only one among four writers! ( I try to resist the Washington disease of exaggerating my role in past events.) That said, I learned many things from him. Here’s one that I try to impart to rising politicians I meet: Your flaws can also be your strengths, if you have the wisdom to learn from them. “I believe in forgiveness because I have needed it,” Bush said in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. Those words enabled flawed human beings – ie all of us – could see something of ourselves in this American aristocrat.
Away from the manners in which Donald Trump has violated the basic norms of decency and democratic governance, what would you tell potential readers the goal of your book is and why that it is different from other Trump books that have been published and have become popularized?
TRUMPOCRACY SEEKS TO BE BOTH ANALYTICAL AND INSPIRATIONAL, TO SHOW THE DANGER AND THE REMEDY
I took a risk in publishing early because I hoped to urge Americans to act before it was too late. Trumpocracy seeks to be both analytical and inspirational, to show the danger and the remedy.
As some may or may not know, you were a good friend of the late Christopher Hitchens (Christopher Hitchens was an astute intellectual, author and contrarian that passed away in 2011). What do you think he would say about the time that we are living in today? Additionally, can you briefly summarize in a couple of sentences what his lasting legacy is to you?
I loved Christopher and sorely miss him. He would derive grim pleasure from watching his least favorite people in American public life – evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. – line up to confer God’s blessing on a rogue and crook like Donald Trump. Here he is talking about the Sr. Falwell pre-Trump (When Christopher Hitchens sparred with Hannity, whacked Reed and cheered Falwell’s death). Only imagine what he’d say about the convergence of the Jr. upon Trump!
For me, one legacy of Christopher is this: It’s possible both to be intellectually serious and morally intense – to speak forcefully and also eloquently. How often do we hear cable personalities say the equivalent of, “Oh yeah? Fuck YOU.” As if that conveyed any intelligent meaning at all! I sent three children through middle-school, I don’t need to hear middle school on the public platform or cable TV. (Read David Frum’s obituary on Christopher Hitchens’ here)
Last question and I will let you go. Why do more people (especially conservative talking heads) not consider how the passage of history and time will judge them as to where they stood in the era of Donald Trump? Why do not more people who are seemingly educated not seem to consider as to how history and their grandchildren will judge them?
Some of them are so distracted by resentment and hatred that they cannot see even ten minutes into the future. Others shrug: the posthumous respect of history will not pay bills in the here and now. History can be forgetful; corrupt earnings prudently invested can last a long time.