Bombshell books that could be Trump’s doom
Might Trump resign this summer? He has weathered an impeachment trial, a pandemic, and the historic Black Lives Matter protests – but two explosive new books could prove the final straw.
He begged Xi Jinping, China’s president, to help him get re-elected. He praised China’s widely decried detention of Uighur Muslims as “exactly the right thing to do”. And he even hinted to Xi that he would serve more than two terms – the constitutional limit – as president. Become a dictator, in other words.
Q: Who could we be talking about? A: The so-called “leader of the free world”, Donald Trump.
The disturbing list goes on. He offered favours to Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep Erdoğan, who is known for his intolerance of free speech. He thought Finland was in Russia. He used the word “cool” to describe invading Venezuela.
Bombshell revelations that, in normal times, would have any US president impeached and thrown out of office.
Who is making them? Trump’s former right-hand man, National Security Adviser John Bolton, in a new book titled chillingly, The Room Where It Happened. Not surprisingly, it has soared to the top of the bestseller charts even before officially going on sale.
For much of yesterday, Trump was tweeting rebuttals, calling the author “a dope” and the book “pure fiction”. But he has also taken Bolton to court to try and block its publication. So, he is worried.
And the headache doesn’t end there. Just days later, his niece Mary will publish a tell-all account of their “toxic family”, including shocking details of how Trump “dismissed and derided” his father as he succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. It will be the first time a family member has opened up about Uncle Donald.
Trump is no stranger to exposés. Librarian Anna Gooding-Call estimates that an average of 1.5 books a month have been published on Trump since he became president in May 2016. But, so far, nothing has stuck.
Many think that could now change. Some of his closest advisers now believe he is on “a path to defeat” in November. Trump’s approval ratings are at rock bottom. His presidency is reeling from mishandling of the pandemic, which has contributed to 120,000 deaths – more than America suffered in World War One.
He is widely considered to have bungled his response to the Black Lives Matter protests. He has appeared unwell, struggling to drink a glass of water on stage. He has become increasingly inconsistent and angry. Finally, the US economy has collapsed and US debt is now at $25 trillion, the highest level in history.
But all these factors pale beside the onslaught of damning personal detail from these two new books. Journalist Frank Bruni anticipates that, as election day approaches, more and more disgruntled insiders will step forward with incriminating information, “like a zombie apocalypse, lurching straight for the White House”.
And the word on the street is that Trump may simply throw in the towel. Could he resign this summer?
No. Trump’s brand is built on gossip. He lives for it and he thrives on it. If anything, the attention created by these two books – as well as the defensive fury they will whip up among Trump’s loyal supporters – will give him energy as he heads into the presidential election campaign against Joe Biden.
Yes. Trump has a famously sensitive ego. John Bolton and Mary Trump look set to skewer the president from two sides – with revelations of professional incompetence on the one hand and personal cruelty on the other. As Trump’s poll ratings drop, this pincer movement could tip the balance. Like a prima donna who is no longer the toast of the town, he could flounce off to spend the rest of his life playing golf and running his business empire.
- Can you be a horrible person, but a good leader?
- Which is more important: your private life or your public life?
- Look at Donald Trump’s Twitter account and some of his tweets about John Bolton (from 18 June). Imagine you are Trump, and write a Twitter thread (no more than four tweets) rejecting Bolton’s claims. What is distinctive about Trump’s language? How can you copy it?
- Write a three-paragraph speech calling for Trump to resign, citing evidence from the article and your own research online. Try and use at least three rhetorical techniques to make it as persuasive as possible. Deliver it to members of your household or class, and see if they are convinced.
Some People Say...
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”Maya Angelou (1928-2014), American poet and civil rights activist
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- Publishers have made a fortune from books about Trump’s presidency, including tell-alls from James Comey, the former FBI director; former Trump adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman, and journalist Michael Wolff. Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward sold a million copies in a week. Exposés about Trump are big business, but none of them seem to have fatally damaged the president – yet.
- What do we not know?
- Neither John Bolton’s nor Mary L Trump’s book has actually been released. Bolton’s book is due out on Tuesday – the details known so far were leaked to the press – and Trump is trying to stop the publication of both with lawsuits. It is impossible to tell how well the books will do once published, or the effect they will have on the American public. Is there anything left to be shocked about when it comes to Trump?
- Uighur Muslims
- A minority ethnic group, many of whom live in Xinjiang, North West China. Hundreds of thousands, possibly over a million, Uyghurs have been detained in “re-education” camps by the Chinese authorities since 2014. Human rights activists and political leaders worldwide have denounced this policy.
- Constitutional limit
- The US Constitution states that “no person shall be elected to the office of the president more than twice”.
- The legal process through which a government official, such as the president, is charged with a crime or misconduct.
- A forceful rejection of someone’s claim or opinion.
- Handled badly.
- Prima donna
- The chief female singer in an opera or opera company. Has also come to be used to describe a very temperamental person, with an inflated view of their own talent or importance.