There has never been a president in the entire history of the United States who has had so many books published as warnings against the dangers he brings to the office. They are too numerous to keep track of. However, after watching the first presidential debate last night, I feel compelled to share six more books as a follow-up to my previous article compiling ten books that provided a damning account of Donald J. Trump's presidency. I thought I had seen it all, but last night when the debate moderator, Chris Wallace, asked Trump to denounce white supremacists, Trump not only hesitated to do so, but called out to the Proud Boys (a group that has been classified as a hate group), to "Stand back, and STAND BY." The group immediately added his admonition to their logo. Together these books warn us about his lack of empathy and his bullying personality which is unbecoming and downright unacceptable for one who occupies the position of the presidency of the United States and the ostensible leader of the free world.
These books lay bare the lies about Trump's supposed business and economic prowess and instead warn us about why we should look more closely into his taxes and financial deals that could pose national security threats. They raise alarms against his cozying up to dictators and alienating our allies in the world. They chronicle how his failure to take control of a global pandemic has cost the lives of over 200,000 Americans, and counting. They highlight his divisiveness on the question of systemic racism. And they warn us against the dangers he poses to our democratic institutions and the very bedrock of our democracy. What emerges is a clear picture of a man who is incapable of leading our nation, but who has been propped up by enablers. It is quite alarming.
And while this article is about books, I must note that other publications have also gotten into the act. The New York Times has released shocking information that Trump paid only $750 in federal income tax for the years 2016 and 2017, and that for ten of the previous 15 years he paid NO taxes! And while he brags about being a billionaire, they exposed that he is more than $400 million dollars in debt with the clock ticking on when it is to be repaid. To whom is still in question.
The Scientific American stated that it had to make a presidential endorsement for the first time in the magazine's 175-year history! (You can read it in full here.) "The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science," the magazine's editors wrote in their official statement. "The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future."
Please note that these warnings are not against partisanship. They are observing a particular brand of leadership, or lack thereof, that presidential historians Michael Bechloss and Doris Kearns Goodwin say have no historical precedent in our country. Bechloss says the closest precedent we would find is in Italy with Mussolini. I take notice of the courage of these writers and publications who out of a recognition of their duty to democracy, the Constitution and our country suspended their usual reserve to sound a warning bell. These six books have been released over the past month, beginning with "Rage," the new book by Bob Woodward that provides unequivocal evidence that Trump is unfit for the presidency. "Rage" is based on 18 interviews of Trump's own words recorded with his permission by Woodward. The same Bob Woodward whose reporting with Carl Bernstein about the Watergate scandal brought about the resignation of then-president Richard Nixon.
Rage (2020) by Bob Woodward
Bob Woodward’s new book, Rage, is an unprecedented and intimate tour de force of new reporting on the Trump presidency facing a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest. Woodward, the #1 international bestselling author of Fear: Trump in the White House, has uncovered the precise moment the president was warned that the Covid-19 epidemic would be the biggest national security threat to his presidency. In dramatic detail, Woodward takes readers into the Oval Office as Trump’s head pops up when he is told in January 2020 that the pandemic could reach the scale of the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed 675,000 Americans. In 17 on-the-record interviews with Woodward over seven volatile months—an utterly vivid window into Trump’s mind—the president provides a self-portrait that is part denial and part combative interchange mixed with surprising moments of doubt as he glimpses the perils in the presidency and what he calls the “dynamite behind every door.”
Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of the Truth (2020) by Brian Stelter
In Hoax, CNN anchor and chief media correspondent Brian Stelter tells the twisted story of the relationship between Donald Trump and Fox News. From the moment Trump glided down the golden escalator to announce his candidacy in the 2016 presidential election to his acquittal on two articles of impeachment in early 2020, Fox hosts spread his lies and smeared his enemies. Over the course of two years, Stelter spoke with over 250 current and former Fox insiders in an effort to understand the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch's multibillion-dollar media empire. Some of the confessions are alarming. “We don't really believe all this stuff,” a producer says. “We just tell other people to believe it.”
Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump (2020) by Peter Strzok
When he opened the FBI investigation into Russia’s election interference, Peter Strzok had already spent more than two decades defending the United States against foreign threats. His career in counterintelligence ended shortly thereafter, when the Trump administration used his private expression of political opinions to force him out of the Bureau in August 2018. But by that time, Strzok had seen more than enough to convince him that the commander in chief had fallen under the sway of America’s adversary in the Kremlin. In Compromised, Strzok draws on lessons from a long career—from his role in the Russian illegals case that inspired The Americans to his service as lead FBI agent on the Mueller investigation—to construct a devastating account of foreign influence at the highest levels of our government. And he grapples with a question that should concern every U.S. citizen: When a president appears to favor personal and Russian interests over those of our nation, has he become a national security threat?
Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President (2020) by Michael S. Schmidt
Schmidt has broken many of the major stories of the Trump era, from the news of Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account to the report on former FBI director James Comey’s contemporaneous memos of conversations with Trump that led directly to the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Now he takes us inside the defining events of the presidency, chronicles them up close, and records the clash between an increasingly emboldened president and those around him, who find themselves trying to thwart the president they had pledged to serve, unsure whether he is acting in the interest of the country, his ego, his family business, or Russia. Through their eyes and ears, we observe an epic struggle. Drawing on secret FBI and White House documents and confidential sources inside federal law enforcement and the West Wing, Donald Trump v. The United States is vital journalism, recording the shocking reality of a presidency like no other, a riveting contemporary history, and a lasting account of just how fragile and vulnerable the institutions of American democracy really are.
The Useful Idiot: How Donald Trump Killed the Republican Party with Racism and the Rest of Us with Coronavirus (2020) by S.V. Dáte
A pandemic never occurred to them.The idea that Donald Trump would ever be required to sit still, pay attention and make rational decisions that would determine whether hundreds of thousands of Americans would live or die not once crossed the minds of those who put him into the Oval Office.For whatever reason, even as they watched the noise and chaos and nonsense generated by candidate Donald Trump for a full year and a half, the consequences of a real crisis requiring real leadership actually happening on the watch of a President Donald Trump never really dawned on them.Three and a half years later, here we are. Approaching 200,000 dead Americans and counting, with a president who grew bored of the crisis months ago. This after the racial and ethnic divisions Trump has inflamed, the endless, wearying lying about things great and small, the pointless chaos, the open abuse of his office to funnel millions into his own pockets and to extort a foreign leader into helping his reelection.If Trump is given another four years, what might his behavior be like, completely unburdened of the need to face the voters ever again? And do Americans really want to find out?
Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation (2020) by Andrew Weissmann
In May 2017, Robert Mueller was tapped to lead an inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, coordination by foreign agents with Donald Trump’s campaign, and obstruction of justice by the president. Mueller assembled a “dream team” of top prosecutors, and for the next twenty-two months, the investigation was a black box and the subject of endless anticipation and speculation—until April 2019, when the special counsel’s report was released.
In Where Law Ends, legendary prosecutor Andrew Weissmann—a key player in the Special Counsel’s Office—finally pulls back the curtain to reveal exactly what went on inside the investigation, including the heated debates, painful deliberations, and mistakes of the team—not to mention the external efforts by the president and Attorney General William Barr to manipulate the investigation to their political ends.
Lisa Cortes and Liz Garbus' documentary, "All In: The Fight for Democracy," is available to stream on Amazon Prime. It takes a look at the history, and current activism led by Georgia politician Stacy Abrams against voter suppression; barriers to voting that most people don't even know is a threat to their basic rights as citizens of the United States.