“Peril remains.” These are the closing words of the Bob Woodward/Robert Costa co-authored blockbuster out this week, “Peril,” an instant bestseller by one half of the journalistic team that brought down President Nixon half a century ago.
The insider stories of President Trump and the tireless work of Gen. Mark Milley of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to keep an unstable Trump away from the nuclear button in his last weeks, in the book’s very last part is the most troubling. It describes Trump as a man who will not yield even now, more than half a year after leaving office in the settling dust of the riot he engineered on January 6 that came far closer than most are willing to admit to actually executing a coup against American democracy.
It wasn’t a coup against America alone, but against all the things that democracy is supposed to represent, especially protecting the interests of minorities in our nation.
It was a rightwing coup on behalf of white male supremacy and everything that Trump rode into office trying to represent, exercising extreme prejudice against Muslims to begin with, and inclusive of all the racial and social minorities that his legions of violent protesters hate.
After the January 6 riot, the authors write in the last pages of their book, the question is raised if the riot was a mere “dress rehearsal?,” quoting one of the book’s major figures, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley, remarking to senior staff, “What you might have seen was a precursor to something far worse down the road.”
By this summer, the authors note, Trump was out holding campaign-style rallies across the country, with one in Ohio drawing 10,000.
“We didn’t lose. We didn’t lose. We didn’t lose,” it quotes Trump exclaiming repeatedly. “We won the election twice!” He concluded his speech, “We will not bend. We will not break. We will not yield. We will never give in. We will never give up. We will never back down. We will never, ever surrender. My fellow Americans, our movement is far from over. In fact, our fight has only just begun.”
And that’s where things stand right now.
But what the book omits, for all its 200 firsthand witnesses and interviews, is the amazing fact that Trump is more than a dangerously demented egomaniac, he is a fully committed agent of a hostile foreign power, Russia, just as James Clapper, former director of U.S. National Intelligence, said publicly in 2017.
The importance of this cannot be overstated, and yet avoiding that fact seems to have become the dominant mode of assessing him even in the most negative sense these days. I don’t know why, except that maybe it’s to assuage the ongoing grave concerns of the Chinese about what’s happening to our country.
It also may stem from a deep failure to appreciate for how Russian foreign intelligence has operated here for the last 50 years, a great ignorance about their role in the U.S. fringe political counterculture involving sophisticated techniques of mind control that we see manifested in the stubborn insistence of anti-vax radicals in our midst.
The Russians are using their assets like Trump to tear down America any way they can, including by encouraging the spread of the Covid-19 virus and the wider modes of distrust by citizens in our democratic system and themselves.
Tons of evidence points to this, even the indictments this week of Jesse Benton (no relation) and Douglas Wead, GOP operatives accused of channeling Russian money to the Trump campaign. When convicted of this earlier, they were pardoned by Trump.
But that’s not nearly as important as the history of Russian insinuation into the U.S. political process and their identification of Trump as their primary aspiring presidential asset back in 1988, as I document in my new book, “The January 6, 2021 Capitol Sacking: Putin’s Role.”