Bob Woodward’s New Book To Detail Explosive Accusations About Trump White House

A new book by legendary Washington reporter Bob Woodward appears to contain explosive revelations about the President and the operation of the White House.

One week from today, Bob Woodward’s new book, ”Fear: Trump in the White House,” will be released and if the initial leaks that are coming out are any indication, it’s going to be a bombshell:

President Donald Trump’s closest aides have taken extraordinary measures in the White House to try to stop what they saw as his most dangerous impulses, going so far as to swipe and hide papers from his desk so he wouldn’t sign them, according to a new book from legendary journalist Bob Woodward.

Woodward’s 448-page book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” provides an unprecedented inside-the-room look through the eyes of the President’s inner circle. From the Oval Office to the Situation Room to the White House residence, Woodward uses confidential background interviews to illustrate how some of the President’s top advisers view him as a danger to national security and have sought to circumvent the commander in chief.

Many of the feuds and daily clashes have been well documented, but the picture painted by Trump’s confidants, senior staff and Cabinet officials reveal that many of them see an even more alarming situation — worse than previously known or understood. Woodward offers a devastating portrait of a dysfunctional Trump White House, detailing how senior aides — both current and former Trump administration officials — grew exasperated with the President and increasingly worried about his erratic behavior, ignorance and penchant for lying.

Chief of staff John Kelly describes Trump as an “idiot” and “unhinged,” Woodward reports. Defense Secretary James Mattis describes Trump as having the understanding of “a fifth or sixth grader.” And Trump’s former personal lawyer John Dowd describes the President as “a fucking liar,” telling Trump he would end up in an “orange jump suit” if he testified to special counsel Robert Mueller.

“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown,” Kelly is quoted as saying at a staff meeting in his office. “I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”

CNN obtained a copy of Woodward’s book, scheduled for release September 11. The explosive revelations about Trump from those closest to him are likely to play into the November midterm election battle. The book also has stunning new details about Trump’s obsession with the Russia probe, describing for the first time confidential conversations between the President’s lawyers and Mueller. It recounts a dramatic session in the White House residence in which Trump failed a mock Mueller interview with his lawyers.

Woodward sums up the state of the Trump White House by writing that Trump was an “emotionally overwrought, mercurial and unpredictable leader.” Woodward writes that the staff’s decision to circumvent the President was “a nervous breakdown of the executive power of the most powerful country in the world.”

In one explosive revelation, Woodward reveals that close aides have actually taken the extraordinary step of removing papers from the Oval Office based on the fear that Trump might go ahead and follow the advice recommended regardless of what might be in the national interests of the United States:

The book opens with a dramatic scene. Former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn saw a draft letter he considered dangerous to national security on the Oval Office desk.

The letter would have withdrawn the US from a critical trade agreement with South Korea. Trump’s aides feared the fallout could jeopardize a top-secret national security program: the ability to detect a North Korean missile launch within just seven seconds.

Woodward reports Cohn was “appalled” that Trump might sign the letter. “I stole it off his desk,” Cohn told an associate. “I wouldn’t let him see it. He’s never going to see that document. Got to protect the country.”

Cohn was not alone. Former staff secretary Rob Porter worked with Cohn and used the same tactic on multiple occasions, Woodward writes. In addition to literally stealing or hiding documents from Trump’s desk, they sought to stall and delay decisions or distract Trump from orders they thought would endanger national security.

“A third of my job was trying to react to some of the really dangerous ideas that he had and try to give him reasons to believe that maybe they weren’t such good ideas,” said Porter, who as staff secretary handled the flow of presidential papers until he quit amid domestic violence allegations. He and others acted with the acquiescence of former chief of staff Reince Priebus, Woodward reports.

Not unexpectedly, the book also covers the Russia investigation and the question of whether the President would sit for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller:

In one revelatory anecdote, Woodward describes a scene in the White House residence. Trump’s lawyer, convinced the President would perjure himself, put Trump through a test — a practice interview for the one he might have with Mueller. Trump failed, according to Dowd, but the President still insisted he should testify.

Woodward writes that Dowd saw the “full nightmare” of a potential Mueller interview, and felt Trump acted like an “aggrieved Shakespearean king.”

But Trump seemed surprised at Dowd’s reaction, Woodward writes. “You think I was struggling?” Trump asked.

Then, in an even more remarkable move, Dowd and Trump’s current personal attorney Jay Sekulow went to Mueller’s office and re-enacted the mock interview. Their goal: to argue that Trump couldn’t possibly testify because he was incapable of telling the truth.

“He just made something up. That’s his nature,” Dowd said to Mueller.

The passage is an unprecedented glimpse behind the scenes of Mueller’s secretive operation — for the first time, Mueller’s conversations with Trump’s lawyers are captured.

“I need the president’s testimony,” Mueller said. “What was his intent on Comey? … I want to see if there was corrupt intent.”

Despite Dowd’s efforts, Trump continued to insist he could testify. “I think the President of the United States cannot be seen taking the fifth,” Trump said.

Dowd’s argument was stark: “There’s no way you can get through these. … Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jump suit.”

What he couldn’t say to Trump, according to Woodward, was what Dowd believed to be true: “You’re a fucking liar.”

And as with previous books, the question of the President’s mental stability is brought to the forefront:

Throughout the book, Woodward portrays the President as a man obsessed with his standing in the media and with his core supporters. Trump appears to be lonely and increasingly paranoid, often watching hours of television in the White House residence. “They’re out to get me,” Trump said of Mueller’s team.

Trump’s closest advisers described him erupting in rage and profanity, and he seemed to enjoy humiliating others.

“This guy is mentally retarded,” Trump said of Sessions. “He’s this dumb southerner,” Trump told Porter, mocking Sessions by feigning a southern accent.

Trump said that Priebus is “like a little rat. He just scurries around.”

And Trump demeaned former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to his face, when Giuliani was the only campaign surrogate willing to defend then-candidate Trump on television after the “Access Hollywood” tape, a bombshell video where Trump described sexually assaulting women.

“Rudy, you’re a baby,” Trump told the man who is now his attorney. “I’ve never seen a worse defense of me in my life. They took your diaper off right there. You’re like a little baby that needed to be changed. When are you going to be a man?”

Trump’s predecessors are not spared either. In a conversation with Sen. Lindsey Graham, Trump called President Barack Obama a “weak dick” for not acting in Syria, Woodward reports.

Woodward’s book takes readers inside top-secret meetings. On July 27, 2017, Trump’s national security leaders convened a gathering at “The Tank” in the Pentagon. The goal: an intervention to try to educate the President on the importance of allies and diplomacy.

Trump’s philosophy on diplomacy was personal. “This is all about leader versus leader. Man versus man. Me versus Kim,” he said of North Korea.

His inner circle was worried about “The Big Problem,” Woodward writes: Trump’s lack of understanding that his crusade to impose tariffs could endanger global security.

But the meeting didn’t go as planned.

Trump went off on his generals. “You should be killing guys. You don’t need a strategy to kill people,” Trump said of Afghanistan.

He questioned the wisdom of keeping US troops in South Korea.

“So Mr. President,” Cohn said to Trump, “what would you need in the region to sleep well at night?”

“I wouldn’t need a fucking thing,” the President said. “And I’d sleep like a baby.”

After Trump left the Tank, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared: “He’s a fucking moron.”

The Washington Post has more details:

John Dowd was convinced that President Trump would commit perjury if he talked to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. So, on Jan. 27, the president’s then-personal attorney staged a practice session to try to make his point.

In the White House residence, Dowd peppered Trump with questions about the Russia investigation, provoking stumbles, contradictions and lies until the president eventually lost his cool.

“This thing’s a goddamn hoax,” Trump erupted at the start of a 30-minute rant that finished with him saying, “I don’t really want to testify.”

The dramatic and previously untold scene is recounted in “Fear,” a forthcoming book by Bob Woodward that paints a harrowing portrait of the Trump presidency, based on in-depth interviews with administration officials and other principals.

Woodward writes that his book is drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses that were conducted on “deep background,” meaning the information could be used but he would not reveal who provided it. His account is also drawn from meeting notes, personal diaries and government documents.

Woodward depicts Trump’s anger and paranoia about the Russia inquiry as unrelenting, at times paralyzing the West Wing for entire days. Learning of the appointment of Mueller in May 2017, Trump groused, “Everybody’s trying to get me”— part of a venting period that shellshocked aides compared to Richard Nixon’s final days as president.

The 448-page book was obtained by The Washington Post. Woodward, an associate editor at The Post, sought an interview with Trump through several intermediaries to no avail. The president called Woodward in early August, after the manuscript had been completed, to say he wanted to participate. The president complained that it would be a “bad book,” according to an audio recording of the conversation. Woodward replied that his work would be “tough” but factual and based on his reporting.

The book’s title is derived from a remark that then-candidate Trump made in an interview with Woodward and Post political reporter Robert Costa in 2016. Trump said, “Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word, ‘Fear.’ ”

A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.

Woodward describes “an administrative coup d’etat” and a “nervous breakdown” of the executive branch, with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the president’s desk so he couldn’t see or sign them.

Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.

Woodward’s book isn’t the first that the Trump Administration has had to deal with in its first year and a half in office. Earlier this year, Trump’s lawyers were reportedly considering the extraordinary step of trying to block the publication of Michael Wolff’s ”Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which contained a number of explosive allegations regarding the inner workings of the Trump White House. They never went forward with that effort, of course, and the book was ultimately published and had at least some impact on the operation of the White House. More recently, former Trump aide and confidante Omarosa Manigault Newman came out with her book “Unhinged: An Insiders Account Of The White House,” This book also contains a number of revelations about the inner workings of the White House, many of which are apparently supported by recorded conversations that Omarosa had over either in person or over the phone with persons including Chief of Staff John Kelly, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Lara Trump, the wife of Eric Trump. In some respects, the reports of what we’re going to see in Woodward’s book mirror information revealed in these two previous books as well as news reports regarding the inner workings of the White House.

The difference between the Wolff and Omarosa books and this new Woodward tome, though, are as stark as the difference between night and day. Where Wolff is a journalist with something of a reputation for sensationalism and Omarosa is, well, Omarosa, Bob Woodward brings to this book more than forty years of a reputation for reporting on the inner workings of Washington that will lend significantly more credibility to what he reports than the previous two books offered. In addition to the fact that Woodward will apparently be able to back up his book with notes, documents recorded interviews, and other material, Woodward already has a reputation as a reporter of being someone who does not report something as fact without having multiple sources backing it up. Given this, it will be next to impossible for the Trump White House to rebut the accusations that the Woodward book makes,

Whether or not the book has a political impact, of course, will be a completely different question. Trump’s hardcore supporters are unlikely to change their mind based on a book, least of all one written by Bob Woodward. On the margins, though, these accusations could have a political impact that could have an impact not just on the Trump Administration but also on the fortunes of the Republican Party heading into the midterms. They could also have an impact on Democrats and their voters, who are likely to increase the pressure that Democrats are already feeling to make the midterms a referendum on the President and to promise an aggressive oversight strategy if they do regain control of the House and/or Senate in the midterm elections.

On another note, this first peek at what is in the Woodward book could offer some insight into the recent behavior we’ve seen from the President. Over the past several weeks the President has seemed to become more and more, well, unhinged in both his Twitter habits and in his public statements. It hasn’t been uncommon, for example, for him to be tweeting late into the night and then resume his tweet storms early in the morning, an indication that he isn’t getting much sleep. There have also been other reports from inside the White House of sources saying that the President and those around him have been increasingly nervous about revelations that might be contained in the book. If this first glance is any indication, then those concerns appear to be well-founded.

Update: This post was updated to include the material from The Washington Post.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    I’ve not done a survey on what words are most frequently used by a variety of people to describe Trump, but “unhinged” seems to be up there.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Given this, it will be next to impossible for the Trump White House to rebut the accusations that the Woodward book makes,

    Wanna bet? The truth has never held them back before, I see no reason why they would let it stop them now.

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  3. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Why bother to rebut them? The Trumpkins have already said this is “Fake News,” and everyone else will, ultimately, believe them, even those who might be reserving judgment now.

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  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    None of the revelations are a surprise. Trump is nuts. He suffers from several personality disorders. And now he’s a cornered rat.

    I’m beginning to sense a little momentum. The last couple of weeks have not been good for #TraitorTrump. Can’t wait for our resident Culties to try and dismiss it all as lies, lies, (sob) more damned lies, I tell you! Pity Ari Fleischer – among others – tweeted in support of Woodward’s honesty.

    And dammit I’m flying to Europe this evening. Just like Watergate, I watched the build-up and was in Spain, July, 1974, and reading a Spanish newspaper over a guy’s shoulder in the Madrid metro. My Spanish was never good, but I understood the gist: SCOTUS had decided against Nixon on the tapes. A week later he was on a helicopter. I’m going to miss the final act!

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  5. Kylopod says:

    CNN obtained a copy of Woodward’s book, scheduled for release September 11.

    That cannot be a coincidence.

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  6. SenyorDave says:

    I just gave my wife even money that DJT will not be POTUS on January 1, 2019. She thinks he’ll last at least until then and maybe for the whole term. I think the walls really are closing in on him, and he will fold like cheap suit, just as bullies often do.
    My wife did call it that he would not pay any significant price during the campaign for all his outrages (I remember telling her Trump was done after the McCain comments, and her response was that it would help him with his base. I was foolish enough to believe even his base wouldn’t accept those comments).

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  7. R. Dave says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I don’t know. Nixon was President at a time when some standards of conduct were still expected by the public and their elected representatives in Congress, and he ultimately stepped down because impeachment and removal seemed a virtual certainty at that point. I see no indication of that kind of unified pressure being brought to bear on Trump. And beyond that, I think Nixon, for all his manifest failings, was not wholly shameless, self-serving and irrational. Trump, on the other hand, clearly is, and I have no doubt that he’d happily bring the whole country crashing down before giving up power willingly.

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  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @R. Dave:
    I’m not so sure. Nixon was tough, Trump is a weakling. If the Dems take the House all these WH staffers are going to be up on the Hill testifying in public before guys like Adam Schiff. More stories will come out. Mueller will produce his evidence and it will be damning and irrefutable. And Don Jr., Roger Stone and possibly Ivanka and Jared will be indicted. I think Trump will crack, the only question is how. We may well be approaching the 25th Amendment stage.

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  9. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I feel your pain. 🙁

    After Trump left the Tank, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared: “He’s a fucking moron.”

    I’ve always wondered about the background on that quote.

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  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @SenyorDave: I can’t see him resigning in the wake of a wave election. Doesn’t seem to match his ego, at least to me. He’ll want to show that he can “work with anybody, even people who hate him personally are against Making America Great Again.” His fans will eat it up and react to his restoration of Obamacare (after a careful name change) as brilliant quadrillion dimensional chess and “putting them libtards in their place.” May not even need the name change–his fans will just call it Trumpcare and that will be good enough.

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  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @R. Dave:

    and I have no doubt that he’d happily bring the whole country crashing down before giving up power willingly.

    And again, I will note that he is still not a departure from current Right wing values–simply a mirror.

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  12. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: That’s essentially the Trump-as-Schwarzenegger theory, advanced by pundits ranging from Jonathan Chait (a liberal) to John Ziegler (a conservative), the idea that he’ll make a surprise move to the left after losing Congress. I don’t believe it. I think his identity and the identity of his supporters have become way too wrapped up in mortal opposition to Democrats, and I have my doubts Dems themselves would have any appetite for going along with such a move.

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  13. MarkedMan says:

    I can see one scenario: the Repubs will not want to run with Trump on the ticket in 2020, especially given an incessant investigatory barrage if the Dems take the house. They go to Trump and say Pence will issue a blanket pardon for him and his family if he declares victory and resigns (ala Palin). Trump will accept that in a heartbeat. I have no doubt in my mind.

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  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I’ve been following this on twitter all day…the orange man-babies head must be ready to explode.
    IMHO…the best thing that can happen right now is if Donnie Jr. gets indicted.

    Woodward has a solid reputation for documentation, through recordings, notes, and etc.
    He better have this shit down tight.
    Both Dowd and Kelly have already said their quotes are untrue.
    It’s not productive, at this point, to put out fiction.
    The fvcking Republic is at stake.

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  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK:

    Why bother to rebut them? The Trumpkins have already said this is “Fake News,” and everyone else will, ultimately, believe them, even those who might be reserving judgment now.

    Outside of the trumpbots (all 12% of them) I can’t think of a single person who unreservedly believes anything the trump admin asserts. So I’m not sure just exactly who you mean by “everyone else”.

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  16. Kylopod says:

    @R. Dave:

    I think Nixon, for all his manifest failings, was not wholly shameless, self-serving and irrational.

    I agree–up to a point. I think it’s important to be careful in not making us sound like we’re glorifying Nixon–who before Trump held the distinction of being the single most irrational and unstable personality ever to occupy the Oval Office. He apologized for nothing as he was leaving office, and went to his grave proclaiming his total innocence. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, John Moe’s 2006 book Conservatize Me features a detailed description of the Nixon Library (which I myself have never visited), which according to the book’s account depicts Nixon as an innocent victim and fall guy in the Watergate affair:

    The position of the Nixon museum was that Nixon had nothing to do with the break-in and really wanted the investigation to go forward without hindrance so that everything could be cleared and the presidency could go on without distraction. Unfortunately, their story goes, there were lots of people out to get Nixon, and when there was a single misunderstood instance of an appearance of an inkling of a shadow of a cover-up, the jackals pounced, clamping down their jaws and not letting go until Nixon heroically left office rather than put the country through turmoil.

    It’s no wonder we keep reaching for Nixon analogies: there are eerie similarities between what’s happening now and what happened then, including the fact that they both involved attempts to fix the most recent election in unsavory ways, and they both revolved partly around the president’s attempts to obstruct the investigation into those crimes. Nixon comes out looking classier than Trump, but that’s only because we’ve never had a more classless pig anywhere near the White House before. (Nixon was also intelligent, and not a wholly bad president in every way.) When Nixon resigned, it wasn’t just because he saw the writing on the wall (though that was the main reason), it was also I think because he still had some sense of dignity he wanted to preserve–a concept completely alien to Trump.

    I just don’t see Trump behaving that way, ever. Even if he realizes Congress has the votes not only to impeach but the 67 votes in the Senate needed to formally remove him from office (and I once again emphasize that I’m still having a hard time imagining that ever happening, no matter what gets revealed), like Rod Blagojevich he’ll have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the office. Especially when you consider his being president is part of what’s protecting him from the legal consequences. The only way I could see it happening is if he were to cut some deal to give him some protection after he leaves office–but, again, the scenario just strikes me as far-fetched.

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  17. Joe says:

    I know its Woodward and everything, but I am still momentarily troubled that we are getting a read out on a “top secret” meeting. How does any White House operate when its secrets are spilling out all over the place?

    Along the same lines, I know Trump can convince himself and his base that Woodward’s book is all bull sh!t, but how does John Kelly keep at it with (a) his top secret meetings being reported and (b) continuing to work for Trump after reliable reporting of Kelly’s opinions of him.

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  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod:

    (and I once again emphasize that I’m still having a hard time imagining that ever happening,

    I can see it if the poll #s in 2020 show them with a 25 seat minority in the senate and a 180 seat minority in the House and a President Hillary 2.0 in the White House (Hillary 2.0- not sure who would fit that mold so use your imagination). In other words, a complete and absolute electoral disaster looming could focus their minds.

    Not that I think it will happen, just saying I can imagine it.

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  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    His fans will eat it up and react to his restoration of Obamacare (after a careful name change) as brilliant quadrillion dimensional chess and “putting them libtards in their place.”

    Congress has to go along. The sensible option for the GOPs in congress has always been to make a few tweeks, put on some conservative window dressing, call the mandate “freedom payments”, and call the whole thing “Ryancare” or “Mitchcare” or “Republicancare”. If they didn’t screw it up, Obama would have signed it. If they wouldn’t do the sensible thing over the last eight years, I don’t see it happening now.

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  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    I love the downvotes – Culties too gutless to speak up. We know you’re out there Bung and TM and Guarneri et al. As weak as your cult leader.

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  21. Kathy says:

    America often is compared to Rome. Lately, I think it’s in the same unfortunate situation Rome found itself in the Imperial period. Namely, that the course of the nation is defined largely by one man.

    This worked rather well for the Romans when they had good emperors, and it made things terrible when they had a bad one. and they got a bad one pretty quickly when Tiberius succeeded Augustus. Then they got Caligula.

    Carrying the analogy too far, America had Nixon and then, after a respite, got Trump. The Romans got no respite.

    The lesson, IMO, is to limit the power of the presidency. On paper, it is limited. In practice, well, look at the trajectory between the 1930s and today.

    One big difference regarding Rome, is that in the Republican era history reads more like a series of events, with personalities rising only now and then. In the Imperial period, and even in the late Republican era, personalities come to dominate events. America hasn’t quite reached that point.

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  22. Yank says:

    I don’t know. Nixon was President at a time when some standards of conduct were still expected by the public and their elected representatives in Congress, and he ultimately stepped down because impeachment and removal seemed a virtual certainty at that point. I see no indication of that kind of unified pressure being brought to bear on Trump. And beyond that, I think Nixon, for all his manifest failings, was not wholly shameless, self-serving and irrational. Trump, on the other hand, clearly is, and I have no doubt that he’d happily bring the whole country crashing down before giving up power willingly.

    Agreed.

    Nixon, for all of his faults, realized that the presidency was bigger then himself. Trump has zero self awareness and only thinks of his own self-interests. I don’t see Trump resigning, he stay and dare the Republicans to impeach him and he may be smart to call their bluff.

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  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Joe:

    how does John Kelly keep at it with (a) his top secret meetings being reported

    FWIW, I would think that it is Kelly himself that is one of the most likely suspects leaking this stuff

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  24. Kathy says:

    As I mentioned elsewhere, Woodward is a respected journalist and a pro. So I will tend to believe him over any denials of other people.

    There is one probable bias, though, which has to be kept in mind. Woodward had a hand in taking Nixon down around forty years ago. He’s 75 now, and surely this is his last chance to repeat his performance. So he may be tweaking things in that direction. If he can back up his claims, well and good. if not, then it would be time to doubt.

    As to his intent, releasing the book now is good marketing. Near the midterms more people will be interested in politics. From the Democratic point of view, it’s also good politics, as a strong negative portrayal of Trump should hurt enthusiasm among republican voters overall. So six of one and a half dozen of the other.

    besides, “Making predictions is hard. especially about the future.” But if a Blue Wave coalesces and the Democrats take the House, Woodward might be inclined to take some credit. If they take the Senate, well…

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  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: I don’t see it as a “surprise” move to the left particularly. There is no left or right as far as Trump goes; there’s only Trump. What I foresee happening is that he will continue to approve, or not as his whims dictate, whatever Congress is doing and contextualize it in tweets for his fans.

    No, I don’t particularly believe that he will work to restore Obamacare–that was just snark–but I also don’t think that he would refuse an improved/changed Obamacare restoration if he can sell it as his own and evolving out of his promise to make a yugely great plan after the midterms. As long as it’s all about him or he thinks it is, he’ll continue Trumping away.

    As I have said far too often, I don’t see Trump as any kind of transformational force on the political dynamic. He merely reflects what he sees as saleable. We keep noting that there’s not much accomplishment from this administration because it’s not about accomplishment to Trump, it’s about Trump and his ego.

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  26. Joe says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I think the only question about Trump moving left is whether he could convince his base that it’s no move at all. If his base perceives that he is shifting on them, they will eat him alive. Having said that, they are also like to be the most gullible in agreeing that it’s no shift at all.

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  27. Hal_10000 says:

    @Kathy:

    Yeah, I’m a bit skeptical here too. Woodward’s had a few things in recent years that have been denied by everyone involved. And the things he describes in his book comport with my biases too much. Whenever someone tells me what I want to believe, I get skeptical. Most of the book is probably accurate, but I’ll be cautious about the more sensational stories.

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  28. JKB says:

    As Scott Adams pointed out: We are to believe that Trump acts normal in public, but is crazy in private while his detractors act crazy in public and we are to believe they are normal in private.

    In any case, Mattis and Kelly have both commented on this work of, as Mattis said, “fiction”.

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Hal_10000:
    I share your instinct to doubt too-ready confirmation. However.

    The Woodward leaks are consistent with the pictures painted in leaks to the media over the last two years, and the Wolff book, and the Omarosa book. Further substantiated by Tillerson’s famous refusal to deny calling Trump an idiot. And consistent with daily observation of Trump himself.

    At this point we all know it’s true. Even Proud Boys like our local trolls. The only question is who is willing to admit it. In the end, though, it will all come out, and every negative thing written about Trump’s mental instability will be validated. As the Angelou quote goes, “When someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time.”

    Trump is a psychopath, a pathological liar, ineducable, stupid, rigid, narcissistic, cowardly, weak, cruel, incapable of empathy, incapable of growth and probably in the early stages of dementia. That’s been my analysis for more than two years. Literally nothing has so much as dented that character analysis. Not one single thing.

    Trump is also a money-launderer, a fraud, a tax cheat, a con man and yes, a traitor. That’s been my position for two years and literally nothing has challenged any part of that.

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    Adams is an idiot. Trump is in no way, shape or form ‘normal’ in any part of his life.

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  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JKB: Wow! Scott Adams still.
    You were mentioning something about crazy and normal?

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  32. Bruce Henry says:

    I guess neither Scott Adams, nor you, JKB, have noticed that Trump DOESN’T “act normal in public.”

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  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: @Bruce Henry:
    It’s unintentionally revealing of both Scott Adams and JKB that they can make that claim with a straight face. WTF are these people up to in their private lives if this is their definition of ‘normal?’

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  34. Kathy says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Whenever someone tells me what I want to believe, I get skeptical.

    How about that? Great minds do think alike 🙂

    Another issue is whether his sources lied to him. Many of us here have or have had office jobs. We know the care needed when talking about the boss behind their back, right? I’ve never called any of my bosses, supervisors or managers an idiot behind their back (and some deserved it).

    Then, too, people tend to make themselves look better when telling stories. So maybe Cohn didn’t remove documents from el Cheeto’s desk, though he might have withheld documents sent to him for an ok before being given to Trump; the effect is essentially the same, but the former is more dramatic.

    What I’m getting at is that the gist may be generally true, but with some exaggerations. and inevitably with some inaccuracies inherent to memory.

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  35. An Interested Party says:

    We are to believe that Trump acts normal in public…

    Oh? Who is the “we” that believes that? Have you seen him at his rallies? Far from “normal”…

    In any case, Mattis and Kelly have both commented on this work of, as Mattis said, “fiction”.

    Oh please…as if they can come out and say, “Yeah, we said that.”

    The worst part of all of this is that everything reported fits Trump to a tee…all of this is not surprising in the least, even if Woodward exaggerated some things, this is who Trump is and this is how he acts…

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  36. Guarneri says:

    The recycled insane Trump stuff, eh? What next, recycle he’s about to start WWIII? The type of people who believe this are the same ones who used to tell us 9/11 was a Bush-Cheney inside job. It says so much more about their mental health than Trump’s.

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  37. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @JKB:

    Trump acts normal in public

    Um…no he doesn’t.
    He lies. He is narcissistic. He expects the DOJ to punish his enemies and protect his allies. This is NOT normal.
    His twitter feed is the ramblings of a mad man.
    If you think that’s normal…it explains you.

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  38. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Guarneri:
    Really? That’s all you have, Drew?
    Sad!!!

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  39. mattbernius says:

    @Hal_10000:
    I feel the same way.

    Its also worth noting the following from a recorded discussion between Woodward and the president.

    BW: . . . it goes on, and I . . . What you can count on is that I’ve been very careful. And Evelyn, are you on?

    EMD: Yes.

    BW: Evelyn Duffy, who’s my assistant, Mr. President.

    Trump: Hello, Evelyn.

    BW: She transcribed all the tapes because, with permission, I taped people for hundreds of hours.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/04/transcript-phone-call-between-president-trump-journalist-bob-woodward/?utm_term=.ea57c3074f9c

    Woodward claims he has these people on tape.

    Now, its entirely possible that Woodward’s interviewees were exaggerating or blowing smoke in those transcribed interviews.

    But man, this sounds like the Trump that New Yorkers have known for the last 3 decades.

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  40. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Dozens of sources.
    Hundreds of hours of taped interviews.
    Or you can believe a pathological liar.
    Just sayin’

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  41. PJ says:

    @MarkedMan:

    FWIW, I would think that it is Kelly himself that is one of the most likely suspects leaking this stuff

    And the best way to put people off your scent is to leak things about yourself.

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  42. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The Woodward leaks are consistent with the pictures painted in leaks to the media over the last two years, and the Wolff book, and the Omarosa book. Further substantiated by Tillerson’s famous refusal to deny calling Trump an idiot. And consistent with daily observation of Trump himself.

    TM reminded us just earlier today that global warming is a scam. So the reality is that actual real-world evidence doesn’t matter. Today’s populist conservatives are all about what they believe in their hearts. Facts no longer actively matter…

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  43. Kari Q says:

    @Kathy:

    This worked rather well for the Romans when they had good emperors, and it made things terrible when they had a bad one. and they got a bad one pretty quickly when Tiberius succeeded Augustus. Then they got Caligula.

    Just yesterday I said to my husband, “You know you’re in a bad place when you start saying ‘Claudius isn’t so bad.’ “

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  44. Sleeping Dog says:

    The path to Trumps impeachment.
    1. Dems take the house and launch copious investigations, some of which dig up damning evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors.
    2. Mueller issues a damning report implicating Trump after indicting several very close to Trump, perhaps Kushner and Donnie JR. Trump issues pardons.
    3. The house issues articles of impeachment.
    4. Recently re-elected Repug senators no longer fear Trump, 2020 Repugs, don’t want to run on the same ticket with him and know that the base will renominate him. 2022 and 2024 Repugs don’t fear Trump because they know he’ll be gone.
    5. Enough “safe” Repug senators join with Dems to convict Trump.

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  45. Kylopod says:

    @Guarneri:

    The type of people who believe this are the same ones who used to tell us 9/11 was a Bush-Cheney inside job.

    Dude, Woodward has never endorsed 9/11 trutherism. Indeed, if there’s any criticism I’d have of him, it’s that he was overly laudatory of Bush in the years immediately following 9/11.

    The most prominent figure I’m aware of who has peddled such theories is Alex Jones. You know, the guy who had Trump as a guest several times and whom Trump praised for his “amazing reputation.” If you’re trying to defend Trump from one of the journalists who helped expose Watergate, bringing up 9/11 conspiracy theories (or any other conspiracy theories) is not exactly helping your case.

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  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    Oh, this is going to be so much fun. In a schadenfreude way. And I try not to give in to that, but you’re just walking into it. . . You’ve turned out to be so much more pathetic than I’d have imagined.

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  47. Mister Bluster says:

    Here is more Fake News from Fox and Friends.

    “When the president says these things—basically, ‘I want you to use the Justice Department to help the Republican Party’—that is fodder for the cannon of Bob Mueller and the never-Trumpers,” said Napolitano. “It’s his using his own words out of his own mouth to help put him in a box of the use of government for political purposes.
    Judge Andrew Napolitano

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  48. Jax says:

    @JKB: The problem being that he does not act normal in public. He can barely form coherent sentences. There are probably at least 1,000 straight hours of unedited video of him not being able to string two thoughts together at the same time, beyond campaign slogans.

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  49. Leonard says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    “I love the downvotes – Culties too gutless to speak up. We know you’re out there Bung and TM and Guarneri et al. As weak as your cult leader.”

    Yeah, Silly Mike, you have a group of fans, but so does Wise Mike. I’ve never heard Wise Mike complain about down votes, though, but that’s one of the things that earned him his nickname.

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  50. Modulo Myself says:

    It’s possible that the people Woodward interviewed were lying through their teeth. But it doesn’t make it any better. It’s like Nazis pointing their fingers at other Nazis. It still happened.

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  51. Kylopod says:

    @Mister Bluster: While we’re on the subject of Judge Andrew Napolitano, here is what he said in 2010:

    “It’s hard for me to believe that [the World Trade Center] came down by itself… I am gratified to see that people across the board are interested. I think twenty years from now, people will look at 9-11 the way we look at the assassination of JFK today. It couldn’t possibly have been done the way the government told us.”

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  52. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kylopod:..While we’re on the subject of Judge Andrew Napolitano…

    I do not deny that he is a Libertarian, vegetarian crackpot.
    I hope he is right about the cannon fodder theory and I hope that the box is much smaller than the prison cells John McCain was held in all those years.

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  53. David M says:

    Sure, we’ve known for a while Trump isn’t fit to hold office.

    The real news is getting other people who support him and work for him admitting the same.

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  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Haven’t a clue; I just leave it at being gobsmacked by what JKB says. Almost all the time, in fact.

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  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Maybe Doug or somebody can explain this to me, but doesn’t Dowd and Sekulow going to Mueller and revealing information about their practice interview with Trump in hopes of convincing him that Trump is an unreliable witness because he is incapable of telling the truth constitute some sort of violation of attorney-client privilege?

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  56. Kylopod says:

    @Mister Bluster: I was just mentioning it in reaction to Guarneri’s absurd comments about how we and Woodward are like 9/11 conspiracy crackpots, when the fact is that most such people these days are on the right: people like Alex Jones, Napolitano, Jerome Corsi, etc.

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  57. rachel says:

    @Kathy:

    What I’m getting at is that the gist may be generally true, but with some exaggerations. and inevitably with some inaccuracies inherent to memory.

    True, but I also wonder if some of Woodward’s sources may have exaggerated (if not outright lied) about what others in Trump’s orbit have done or said for the purpose of undermining their rivals. Trump is notorious for surrounding himself with people prone to that kind of under-handedness.

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  58. MarkedMan says:

    It’s a shame that disgraced Washington Mayor Marion Barry has faded from memory outside of the DC environs. Trump parallels him in so many ways, and Trump’s supporters remind me so much of Barry’s. Like Trump, Barry was a corrupt politician, and also one who had little to no impulse control, one who gave into his most degrading sexual vices, one who bought disgrace and disgust down on himself and his associates and family. And his supporters just didn’t care. Sure, they claimed that Barry was innocent, that his video taped crimes were setups, or something that “everyone did”. But they knew he was guilty of what he was accused of and much more. But they cheered Barry because they felt he spoke for them, forcefully and without holding back. He said harsh things about those in power they hated. More importantly, they believed that those powerful people despised them, and they were willing to say anything to lift up the one they saw as their champion, degraded and debauched as he was.

    The various Trumpoids posting here know that Trump is guilty of everything he is accused of and much more. They know he is little more than a pulsating angry boil filled to the bursting with bile and spittle flecked invective, too lazy and stupid to develop even a rudimentary understanding of the world. But they troop back here to blindly deny everything, to hail his genius, to lie for him over and over again and most importantly, to tell off those that they hate and resent.

    Like Barry’s supporters, they can never be shamed or proven wrong. Their champion is merely a vehicle which allows them to strike out at those their perceived enemies.

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  59. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Whenever someone tells me what I want to believe, I get skeptical.

    Boy you’d make a lousy Trumpista.

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  60. Kathy says:

    @Kari Q:

    Just yesterday I said to my husband, “You know you’re in a bad place when you start saying ‘Claudius isn’t so bad.’ “

    Claudius wasn’t that bad.

    He was nearly that stupid. After all, he was murdered by people conspiring almost right in front of him. And he made no provision to keep Nero away from the throne.

    Trivia: Claudius may have been the last man who understood the Etruscan language.

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  61. al Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    The recycled insane Trump stuff, eh? What next, recycle he’s about to start WWIII? The type of people who believe this are the same ones who used to tell us 9/11 was a Bush-Cheney inside job. It says so much more about their mental health than Trump’s.

    ‘Recycled insane Trump stuff” ?
    I’ve always been upfront with my opinion that Trump is a con man, a grifter. I have not heard the allegation that he’s insane, and frankly, I don’t need that, his being a grifter is more than enough for me.

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  62. MarkedMan says:

    @al Ameda:

    I have not heard the allegation that he’s insane

    “Insane” isn’t really a meaningful term, but there are certainly all kinds of speculation that he has various kinds of mental health issues. It’s almost beside the point though. What we fear from an insane President is that they would act out in dangerous ways with the immense power of the Presidency. We don’t need to diagnose his mental fitness to fear this outcome. We know he is a fairly stupid man which is supercharged by his laziness and complete lack of curiosity about anything that doesn’t personally effect him. Bottom line, he doesn’t understand the world and he isn’t going to learn anything to change that. Top that with his almost total lack of impulse control. These things ensure he is a danger to the world regardless of whether he is insane on top of it.

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  63. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    “Insane” isn’t really a meaningful term

    I agree. The only area where “insanity” really has any specific, concrete meaning is in the narrow legal context of concepts such as “not guilty by reason of insanity,” perhaps most famously applied to John Hinckley. It isn’t synonymous with mental illness; what it means is that a person is so completely detached from reality that they are deemed by the legal system not to be responsible for their actions. It is only narrowly applicable and rarely used. Charles Manson was almost certainly schizophrenic, but that didn’t stop him from being convicted of murder and put on death row.

    When people talk about Trump and mental-health issues, they’re usually referring to two separate things. First, there is the matter of him being a narcissist, a sociopath, and/or a psychopath. Those are personality disorders, which don’t usually involve psychosis. They all involve an extreme lack of empathy and difficulties in interpersonal relationships. They are conventionally described as being a subcategory of mental disorders (they’re in the DSM), but they’re not the sort of thing where you can take a pill to reduce the symptoms, and people with these disorders don’t necessarily think of themselves as having problems standing in the way of their happiness. It’s other people who have to deal with these individuals who suffer the most. It has occurred to me more than once that these are all simply psychiatric labels for what are in reality little more than extreme moral and character defects.

    The second issue is the possibility that Trump is beginning to show signs of the early stages of old-age dementia. This is based on the way he talks (his vocabulary and syntax are a lot simpler than they used to be), anecdotes suggesting a failure to remember things, a slurring of his words (which seems to have started no earlier than last year). The important thing to remember is that none of this is a personal attack against Trump. Many wonderful, accomplished people have suffered from mental decline in old age. It’s not their fault, and it’s most definitely not a failing of character.

    Personally, in my purely nonprofessional opinion, I think there’s a lot to these theories and that they are very likely accurate. But I have some hesitancy about dwelling too much on them. For years I’ve heard people fall back on dimestore psychological analysis to attack politicians they don’t like. It’s almost a cliche. You don’t know how many conservatives I’ve heard who refer to Obama, Pelosi, and others as “sociopaths,” and I’ve heard loads of people across the political spectrum react to a politician by saying “He must be crazy!”

    As someone who has had close relationships with people with real mental illnesses (bipolar and schizophrenia), I’ve become somewhat sensitive to the way mental illness is commonly depicted in our culture–the way people use armchair diagnosis of someone’s mental state as a personal attack, the way people reach for it as an explanation for things they do not comprehend. The mentally ill are so often used as a scapegoat for other people’s problems. (It’s much of what the right does whenever there’s a mass shooting–at least when the perpetrator isn’t a Muslim–and they want to deflect from the subject of guns. It’s ironic because Republicans are actually proposing nothing to help people with mental illness; on the contrary, their views on health-care are actively harmful to such people, who have often had trouble getting the treatment they need in our paltry system.) It’s also far from clear that mental illness is automatically a disqualification for holding public office. There’s evidence that some great leaders of the past, from Abraham Lincoln to Winston Churchill, suffered from depression.

    Trump may have some genuine mental-health problems, but if so, they’re a mere fraction of why he’s so profoundly unfit for the presidency.

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  64. Kathy says:

    El Cheeto Loco is beating about changing libel laws again.

    He said the same thing during the campaign, but had remained quiet about it until now. this piece in USA Today has some details.

    IMO, what we have here is a tacit admission that Woodward is truthful. Consider this Tweet from the Orange Twit: “Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost,” Trump tweeted. “Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?”

    I’m not a lawyer, but if the book is made up (“fiction”), and the result is that it damages Trump’s “reputation,” then proving malice and disregard for truth ought to be easy, and El Cheeto’s lawyers would be busy preparing a lawsuit.

    If they aren’t, and instead Trump is whining about libel laws, that’s an admission that the book is either spot on, or very close (look for Sessions, Kelly, and possibly Mattis to be gone before January 2019).

    BTW, the USA Today piece notes that 1) there are no federal libel laws and 2) the federal government can’t change state laws.

    Well and good. But can Congress draft and pass a federal libel law? Asking for an enemy.

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  65. Mister Bluster says:

    …I’ve heard loads of people across the political spectrum react to a politician by saying “He must be crazy!”

    Here in Makanda Township we don’t limit our crazy claims to the politicians!

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  66. Mister Bluster says:

    It’s also far from clear that mental illness is automatically a disqualification for holding public office.

    Back in the Dark Ages of 1972 it was terminal cancer on a campaign that was born dead.
    I’m Behind Him 1000%!

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