Upon the release of his explosive new book this week, “Disloyal, A Memoir,” Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen has reminded Americans of what he said in 2018 Congressional testimony against his former boss, that Trump has no intention of going quietly if he loses the election this November.
In an extraordinary hour-long interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Tuesday night, Cohen’s many-years-long intimate working relationship with Trump has provided the best window yet into the twisted personage that Trump is, and his motives.
Others, even Trump’s niece Mary Trump, base their claims in their books on necessarily partial, if not accurate, knowledge of the real Trump. But for years Cohen was at Trump’s right hand, day in day out, doing deeds at his boss’ behest and enjoying the benefit, as it were, of the thinking and rationales that Trump provided for why he did the things he did leading up to his election as president, something, by the way, that Cohen is certain Trump never expected would happen.
For Trump, the 2016 election was one big “branding” exercise that would accrue him great publicity and opportunities for deal making.
No doubt, Trump, as Cohen and others have described him, totally lacks the capacity for empathy and undoubtedly as niece Mary Trump, a trained psychologist, has asserted, is clinically insane. The big sections of the thick volumes of psychiatric diagnoses that describe the veritably incurable psychological condition of “sociopathy” perfectly describe the behavior of Trump.
In those sections, which I have read because I knew of someone who also fit that description perfectly, it is discussed the power that such a sociopath, incapable of empathy but, and in a related way, totally capable of cold, manipulative demand for control over ones who may care about him, has over others.
The professional literature is chilling on the subject, because nowhere in it does it suggest that there is a cure. Nor is there a suggestion of a remedy.
It unlocks the secret, if you could call it that, of the classic cult leader, for example. It is not that the cult leader has some quality of charisma that makes him effective. No, it is the fact that he (or she) completely lacks the capacity for empathy that he (or she) can callously make such demands on followers that lead them into a slavish disposition of “follower.”
Cohen calls his former boss “like a cult leader” in his book, too. He figured out how divisiveness in his rhetoric can “arouse strong feelings for those who take his side,” he writes, and that becomes an M.O. for gaining power “He doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as he wins,” writes Cohen, and yes, Trump has been changed by his election to the U.S. presidency because he is now sick for a level of power that he never had before.
“Power has gone to his head and he wants to be president for life,” Cohen told Maddow. “When he gets people to chant, ‘12 more years,’ he means it. This man has absolutely no sense of humor.” “2020,” Cohen said, “will be worse than 2016.”
This warning from Cohen is something that persons in all the corridors of power in the U.S. need to heed very seriously.
What is the scenario for the removal of Trump off the White House grounds come January 20, 2021, should the evidence be conclusive that he lost the November 2020 election?
There are those who argue that his plan, if he is declared the loser, is to resign on condition that Vice President Pence, being elevated to president under such circumstances, will pardon him like Nixon was from all future potential criminal charges against him.
But that does not correspond to 1. Trump’s sociopathic nature and 2. the cold fact that no Pence pardon would protect Trump from multiple charges from non-federal courts that could send him to prison for life.
It would be the height of irresponsibility for our nation’s leaders, aside from the Trump cult, to stand aside under some delusion that Trump will play fair and accept his fate as a loser in November.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]