Amid talk of presidential instability, the splash of prurient headlines and racial animus, taunts of nuclear attack, evidence of laundered money, Russian connections and salacious tapes comes yet one more damning possibility.
Murder and the threat of murder.
A 2015 phone conversation between candidate Trump and the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe show broached the subject. In this interview, Joe Scarborough repeatedly gives Donald Trump the chance to condemn Russia’s president Vladimir Putin for murder.
Scarborough: “He’s the person who kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”
Trump: “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader unlike what we have in this country.”
Scarborough: “But again, he kills journalists that don’t agree with him.”
Trump: “Well I think our country does plenty of killing also.”
The weird conversation continued with Trump saying, “There’s a lot of killing going on.”
This unnerving exchange was our introduction to the vacant soul of Donald Trump. He speaks casually to Joe and Mika in that unctuous voice, sure of their loyalty, defenses in abeyance, and reveals his dark heart. This occurred well before the unalterable rift between Trump and the show’s co-hosts.
Those few minutes of repartee act as a measuring stick. It is a public gauge showing Donald Trump’s nonchalant acceptance of political assassination.
It should send tremors across the network of American media and it likely did. It may explain why Trump’s Cabinet humiliated themselves to the world with their debasing love fest, why Republican minions bow in subservience and Hillary Clinton effectively went into hiding after the election.
Trump’s insouciance toward Putin’s record of rubbing out his detractors may be the dark elephant in the room when looking at Senator Lindsey Graham or House Speaker Paul Ryan. Both are remarkable for their about-face allegiance to Trump. And there’s Senator Rand Paul, who like Graham, emerged from a day of golf with the president as his convert. It may account for Devin Nunes acting as Trump’s informant and Orrin Hatch equating Trump to holy manna and why Melania looks at her husband with terror in her eyes.
The threat of murder is certainly more persuasive than any Republican fear of his insignificant core voter bloc or a need to repeal health insurance. Fear of assassination would explain why these members of Congress remain silent while Trump insults 54 African nations, Haiti, Central American countries and our historic allies.
But violence is explicit in the man himself. Ask who charms Trump and the answer is violent men. He has praised President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who shot people in cold blood and exercises brutal control over his regime. Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader who is Trump’s protagonist and the planet’s fear, received his praise last year.
“How many young guys — he was like 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden … he goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss,” Trump said. “It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one, that one. I mean this guy doesn’t play games. And we can’t play games with him.”
In these instances, Trump is impressed with violence as a method of political control.
We need to move beyond the porn stars. We must imagine the unimaginable. The White House is controlled by a man with no moral boundary, a man who deceives and defames as regularly as he breathes. He is an individual drawn to violence in its multiple shapes, from rape to homicide to slurs, and in its many embodiments, from Putin to Duterte to neo nazis and racists. In a years’ time, the country has morphed into a haven for the despicable.
We have to ask ourselves another crucial question: if the degenerate in the White House is drawn to such brutality what might he do to imperil the very foundations of the republic? This could well be the central apprehension of those who are sworn to protect our country.