National Commentary

Deprogramming the Cult of Trump

It must be in the forefront of awareness amid all the breaking developments around Trump this week the importance of the link between what he’s done in Ukraine and Syria. In both places, he’s dramatically withdrawn U.S. support to the advantage of Russia.

In Ukraine, he withheld almost $400 million in badly-needed military support on the pretext of a quid pro quo demand on the Ukraine president Zelensky that the deployment of the aid be conditioned on Zelensky making a display of plans to investigate Trump’s likely Democratic presidential foe Joe Biden.

In Syria, Trump ordered the removal of U.S. troops from areas near the Turkish border, allowing the Turks to cleanse the area of Kurds with mass murder and displacement of thousands. Now, Trump has called the process a success, while the Turks continue to hold the territory they’ve claimed in a shared occupation with Russia.

In the process of actively inviting Putin and Russia into these areas, Trump escalated his lying slanders against not only the U.S. media, the U.S. intelligence establishment and congressional rivals, but now also extended to the diplomatic corps, against seasoned, patriotic veterans who’ve dedicated their careers to holding the line against those who represent a strategic threat to American interests.

That extended to 50-year veteran William Taylor, who brought shocking testimony to a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday confirming, according to his 15-page opening statement made public, that Trump grossly illegally insisted on the quid pro quo deal while withholding the military funds. Trump’s latest press secretary stooge Stephanie Grisham issued a statement Tuesday claiming that such as Taylor are among “far left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution.”

Calling Taylor, a seasoned diplomat and Army veteran who served with distinction both Republican and Demoratic administrations, a “radical unelected bureaucrat” is about as far from reality as one can get. On the contrary, it would apply aptly to newby Grisham herself.

Most Republicans in Congress seem to have drunk the Trump Kool-Aid too, behaving like petulant children in a blind defense of the president, including yesterday’s infantile disruption of the Intelligence Committee hearing.

Still, Taylor’s release of his opening statement is the latest in what we hope will be a pattern of defiance and courage by a senior government officials aimed at sounding an alarm to the American public about the threat that Trump represents to the country.

The goal has to be to chip away at the base of slavish Trump defenders in the U.S. Senate, in particular, where the fate of the House Democrats’ advance toward impeachment will ultimately be decided. There is much in the new book by cult expert Steven Hassan, “The Cult of Trump,” that must be grasped when it comes to the cult-like devotion of these spineless Republicans, and including a whole swath of their gradually-shrinking electoral base.

Hassan is an expert on American mind-control cults, having freed himself from the cult of Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church where he experienced first-hand the “radical personality change” he went through under the influence of mind-control methods.

He’s spent his life since exposing the methods used to lure and hold him into that cult, “passing along the lessons I learned from my own deprogramming,” he writes. Yes, these Republican congressmen who refuse to hear the kind of testimony that Taylor and others have presented, covering their ears and going, “La, la, la, la, la…,” exhibit the behavior of cult victims, Hassan claims.

The key to the mind control is the denial of facts, in favor of a cult leader’s version of events. Trump’s insistence since Day One in the White House (his press secretary’s claims about Inauguration numbers) that people should not believe their own eyes and ears in favor of Trump’s account goes to the essence of the process.

Trump’s relentless attack on what he calls “fake news” is key to the perpetuation of this process. It is not an attack on the media, but on the rational thinking process of the public.

Nicholas Benton may be emailed at