Chapter 15

Civil War — that’s what everyone’s talking about right now. Civil war in the White House, as Trump fights with everyone. Those of us outside his inner circle fear the destruction of the temple and all of us in it.

Civil war in Washington, as TFC (Trump=That Fucking Child) continues to deny the reality of his own potentially criminal behavior while all of Washington, Republican and Democrat, sees him as a corrupt, destructive liar.

Civil war in America, as TFC’s followers continue to believe the nonsense of his rhetoric even as he betrays all of them over health care, taxes, and jobs. Trump is the last hope of the despairing. After him, comes . . . what?

The atmosphere in the White House has become almost unbearable. We all fear the fallout from the investigation by Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel, into collusion, corruption, and obstruction by Team Trump. More immediately, we fear for the sanity of Trump himself, who on numerous occasions in the past week has seemed so incandescent with rage that he has, literally, been unable to speak coherently.

No one wants to go into the Oval Office, for fear of being subjected to his terrifying rants: face red, wattles wobbling, sweat gathering, foul language pouring all over everyone in the room.

It’s not so much the anger — I saw plenty of that during last year’s campaign — as the apparent inability to accept any responsibility for anything, especially for himself and his actions.

“That fucker Mueller!” began one tirade. “I’m going to fire that bastard. How dare he investigate me? It’s just another fucking conspiracy!”

The Amen Chorus, led by Steve Bannon, nods in craven agreement. Jared Kushner, TFC’s son-in-law, is a weak man, not very bright, and too frightened to say anything. Anyway, he’s now front and center in Mueller’s investigation, so would love to see it end. Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, whose publicity would have her portrayed as a calming presence, is in fact just another enabler for her father.

Look at the tally so far: Trump has hired outside counsel, his personal lawyer has hired his own lawyer, and so have Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Kushner. Several of us are planning on doing the same thing, as the investigation is certain to spread far and wide.

Mueller is hiring a killer team of investigators and prosecutors who will get to the truth, and the results of their investigation will expose Trump and his acolytes to a world of hurt.

There are three main lines to Mueller’s investigation: collusion with Russia before the election, which the CIA, FBI, and NSA all believe is a case proven; money laundering by Trump, Kushner, and Ivanka involving the Bank of Cyprus and Russian intelligence, for which there is much evidence; and obstruction of justice by Trump himself, with the help of Attorney General Sessions — prima facie, a done deal.

Each of these is cause enough for impeachment, but because the lickspittles in Congress seem unlikely to do anything, the stage is being set for an epic confrontation between the law and the lawless, with the future of our country a pawn in the game.

Trump and his allies rail against a “witch hunt,” and think it’s the leaks, not the crimes, that should be investigated. But officials who’ve seen much of the evidence gathered by the CIA and the NSA say there is clear evidence of collusion between Team Trump and Russia, as well as potential obstruction of justice. For every lie promulgated by Team Trump, another leak emerges from those outraged by the dishonesty.

Even now, after all the drama, Trump seems unable to distinguish between his private business and his duties as a public servant. Against the advice of both the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State, the President has allied himself firmly with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against Qatar, allegedly in a new effort to cut support for terrorism. In fact, Trump has done business with both Saudi and the UAE, but has failed to get any traction in Qatar despite years of trying.

If you were to listen to Trump, combating the nuclear and missile ambitions of North Korea is a national priority. China has joined the fight finally by imposing economic sanctions similar to those already in force by the US, Europe and many Asian countries. For weeks, the US intelligence community has watched as Russia breaks all sanctions by shipping food and munitions to North Korea. Despite the urging of the Pentagon and the State Department, Trump has said nothing about this.

To add to the Russian imbroglio, Congress is planning a raft of new sanctions against Russia for their hacking of last year’s election. Despite the incontrovertible evidence of what many consider to be an act of war, the White House continues to try to water down those sanctions. Can they really be so stupid?

Then there’s Ivanka. You’ll recall that, the day she sat next to China’s President Xi at dinner at Mar-a-Lago in April, her clothing company was granted three trademarks by Xi’s government. Last week she was granted four more trademarks, and another 40 are pending. She’s stepped aside from the daily management of her company, but still personally owns her shares in it. Yet I and all my friends had to create trusts, and divest ourselves of shares in any company with which there was even the remotest chance of an appearance of a conflict of interest. Ivanka is engaged in corruption, pure and simple, and Mueller’s investigation is already expanding to embrace her.

In all of this, nothing much has been heard of Melania Trump, except for sympathy for her unenviable role as The Donald’s wife. Yet I hear that she, too, has ties to Russia and is now being investigated.

All of this criticism is meaningless to Trump, who simply sees it as business as usual. TFC himself has no understanding of American government, Presidential obligations and responsibilities under the Constitution — or, indeed, much knowledge of anything. So, as Mueller’s probe gathers speed and momentum, Trump wants to do what any CEO would do when confronted by an annoying underling: fire him.

Last week, Trump was dissuaded from doing just that by the outrage provoked when the idea was floated by one of his friends. Mueller will not be intimidated by such talk, and the impulse to fire him will resurface as the investigation accelerates. Trump has also threatened Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who may look like a dweeb but is actually a tough cookie. Neither Mueller nor Rosenstein will bend in the face of Trump’s fury and threats.

To counter the wave of bad news, TFC gathered his cabinet for a scene taken, word for word, from the playbooks of Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Kim Jong Un. As Trump preened, each cabinet member had to tell him how grateful he or she was for the honor of serving someone so wonderful, inspirational, and generally fabulous as The Donald. What a revolting and humiliating display. As several of us watched it live, each of us in turn mimed barfing.

We all fear that the shooting at a bipartisan Congressional baseball practice last week by a crazed Bernie Sanders supporter is just the beginning. The polarization of the left and right into violent action could even drag in some of the more moderate center — something never seen in this country since the Civil War and is being encouraged every day by TFC and his followers.

Trump himself dismisses all the investigations now under way as a “witch hunt,” while one of his close allies, Newt Gingrich, darkly refers to a plot by the “deep state” — a conspiracy of Democrats, the media, and the intelligence community — to undermine the Trump administration. This would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. In the past few months, the Democrats have shown all too clearly that they are incapable of organizing anything, let alone a conspiracy, and the media is much too disorganized and competitive to agree on even the outlines of a conspiracy without turning on each other.

Then there are folks like me, who came into the administration in the hope of serving our country. We might be accused of naïveté, but we certainly hoped for more than we found: a possibly deranged President who takes no responsibility for anything, especially his own actions, and who chooses to heed advice from a man, Steve Bannon, who wants to provoke not only a class war but a world war, in some insane dream of cleansing the world.

What I’ve seen are routine betrayals and abuse of anyone in the White House who comes within range. As a result, I’ve chosen to write The Bigly Book to ensure that truth will out. Many others, in similar positions, have chosen to leak as a way of salving their consciences in the face of the lies they’re surrounded by every day.

The scene is being set for an epic confrontation: Trump and his allies versus the rest of us, we who still believe in the checks and balances that are essential to a democracy. That said, there is no real evidence that Team Trump actually believes in democracy. The language used by the President and his allies is all about the divide between us Americans and his supporters seem to buy the bullshit. It’s the sort of environment created by dictators the world over, in which differences of race, class or financial status are demonized, accused of conspiring to undermine and destroy the rightful aspirations of the underclass. Already, it’s clear that Trump’s supporters continue to believe his lies, however egregious they may be.

Following this to its logical conclusion, Trump seems likely to fire Mueller, pardon Mike Flynn, his former National Security Advisor, and trigger a constitutional crisis: on one side, Trump, his fans, and his spineless GOP congressional supporters; on the other, the national security community and most of the rest of us.

This may all seem unnecessarily alarmist, but the other day I came across an US Army scenario that is even more alarming. (Bear in mind that the military does tons of scenario planning, most of which never sees the light of day.) This one suggested a breakdown of civil order, especially in the big cities, with law enforcement losing control. Red circles were drawn around the conflicted urban areas, which became no-go zones (nobody let in or out), with food and medical supplies airlifted in.

My fear is that someone like Trump would consider such a result righteous punishment of those who stand in his way, and the country be damned.

As the nooses of corruption, collusion, and obstruction slowly tighten around the President’s neck, the question increasingly being asked is: Will it be the Special Counsel who brings Trump down, or his own insanity? In recent weeks, these serious questions have dominated conversations inside the White House. From what I hear from my counterparts in other nations’ governments, they seem to be the subject of serious conversations there as well.

I have no experience of other administrations, but I find it difficult to imagine that there has ever before been serious conversation about the mental health of a sitting President. It’s not just the media — from serious journals like Foreign Policy to more popular newspapers like The Washington Post. I’ve been asked numerous times by officials from foreign embassies what is essentially the same question:

“Are you sure the President is sane?”

Certainly, TFC has appeared more and more erratic and unstable. His speech gets more incoherent by the day, his rages far more frequent. To doctor friends I’ve spoken to, he has all the hallmarks of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The illness afflicted his father, Fred, and it’s hereditary. And his diet of burgers and Diet Coke, combined with no exercise, will exacerbate any symptoms already present.

However much those of us who are daily exposed to Trump’s irrational behavior may complain, it’s difficult to see what might trigger any action. My Republican party seems to have lost any trace of moral compass. Trump himself is oblivious to the damage he’s doing. Kushner and Ivanka are enmeshed in corruption and seem to have lost all perspective. And Bannon watches it all gleefully, in the hope that The End is nigh.

If Trump is really going mad, who will speak truth to power?

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