Donald Trump, the twice-impeached, one-term Republican president who lost the popular vote twice and the Electoral College once, is hungry for media attention these days.
70 days after his presidency ended, in a lengthy excerpt published at Vanity Fair from their new book, “I Alone Can Fix It,” Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker focus on their hours-long interview with the former president at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump meandered through bizarre imaginary scenarios that were definitively off topic.
“I think it would be hard if George Washington came back from the dead and he chose Abraham Lincoln as his vice president, I think it would have been very hard for them to beat me,” Trump told the two Washington Post reporters.
Trump seemed equally determined to persuade the writers that he had won, and easily, if it hadn’t been for the many people who had wronged him—the “evil people” who conspired to deny him his rightful second
“The greatest fraud ever perpetrated in this country was this last election,” Trump said. “It was rigged and it was stolen. It was both. It was a combination, and Bill Barr didn’t do anything about it.”
Trump chastised not only his attorney general, but also Vice President Pence, for lacking the courage to do the right thing.
“Had Mike Pence had the courage to send it back to the legislatures, you would have had a different outcome, in my opinion,” Trump said.
“I think that the vice president of the United States must protect the Constitution of the United States,” he added. “I don’t believe he’s just supposed to be a statue who gets these votes from the states and immediately hands them over. If you see fraud, then I believe you have an obligation to do one of a number of things.”
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Trump became more animated and specific about the long list of advisers and allies he considered disloyal during his discussion of the “stolen” election.
He claimed that Barr failed him as attorney general by not believing the conspiracy and failing to send the FBI to investigate Fulton County’s vote-counting process. Barr, in Trump’s opinion, had become too exhausted to act in his final months on the job.
Trump also claimed that Barr had become too sensitive to media criticism, and that he had backed away from properly investigating voter fraud because he was concerned about being portrayed as a loyal marionette who did the president’s bidding.
“Barr disliked me at the end, in my opinion, and that’s why he made the statement about the election, because he did not know,” Trump said. “And I like Bill Barr, just so you know. I think he started off as a great patriot, but I don’t believe he finished that way.”
“Bill Barr changed a lot,” Trump said. “He changed drastically, and in my opinion, he changed because of the media. The media is brilliant. I give them credit. I get it better than anybody that’s ever lived. Bill Barr came in because he was really legitimately incensed at what they were doing to me and the presidency on the Mueller hoax. He did a good job on the Russian hoax, right? And then as time went by, and what I should have done is said, ‘Bill, thank you very much. Great job.’”
On his own inspired insurrection on January 6, Trump said he had hoped his supporters would show up outside the Capitol but not enter the building. “In all fairness, the Capitol Police were ushering people in,” Trump said. “The Capitol Police were very friendly. They were hugging and kissing. You don’t see that. There’s plenty of tape on that.”
Trump failed to mention the numerous accounts of horrific violence, such as a riotous mob shoving a police officer to the ground and later threatening to shoot him with his own gun, or an insurgent bashing a flagpole into another officer’s chest, or yet another officer howling in pain as he was compressed in a closing door.
“Personally, what I wanted is what they wanted,” Trump said of the rioters. “They showed up just to show support because I happen to believe the election was rigged at a level like nothing has ever been rigged before. There’s tremendous proof. There’s tremendous proof. Statistically, it wasn’t even possible that [Biden] won. Things such as, if you win Florida and Ohio and Iowa, there’s never been a loss.”
He was referring to the accepted wisdom that the winner of the presidential election has traditionally carried the same trio of states that Trump won.
One of the characteristics that had propelled Trump to the presidency was on full display: his astounding ability to say things that were not true.
He always seemed to be completely convinced of whatever product he was promoting or assertion he was presenting.
Trump has an uncanny ability to say, with a straight face, that things aren’t as you’ve been told or even as you’ve seen with your own eyes.
Despite all statistical and even video evidence to the contrary, he could fully commit to a lie in the frame of his body and the timbre of his voice.
In the end, Trump astonishingly admitted that he has but a single regret for his time as Commander in Chief, and it was not deploying the U.S. Military to attack Black Lives Matter protestors during the summer of 2020.
He seems oblivious to the face that this act, at the very least, this would have been met with massive resistance nationwide and would have been illegal and unconstitutional.
“Over the years,” Leonnig and Rucker write, “Trump rarely has expressed misgivings. But he regrets his response to protests last summer in Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, and other cities. ‘I think if I had it to do again, I would have brought in the military immediately,’ he said.”
Trump regrets not violating protestors’ civil rights even more.
The irony of Trump using the Insurrection Act in 2020 only to incite an insurgency in 2021 would have been too much for history to bear.