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An Analysis Of New Books About Donald Trump's Presidency

A Martínez headshot

Several books about the Trump administration's final year, some including interviews with the ex-president, are arriving in bookstores. How do they change what we know about the Trump White House?

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

This month has brought a wave of new books written by American journalists on the final year of the presidency of Donald Trump. The books offer a vivid and often disturbing picture of life inside the White House in 2020 and especially in the first month of 2021. Joining us now to discuss these books and what they say about Trump and our times is NPR's Ron Elving, senior editor and correspondent on the Washington Desk. Ron, why all of a sudden, all these books, all in a month?

RON ELVING, BYLINE: To some degree, it's a race to the bookstore and a race to the radio and TV studios - probably some concern involved about beating other books that may still be coming by other authors. It also takes time to produce a book, and lots happened very late in the year last year and early this year - the election, the pushback from the president, the insurrection on January 6 and then another impeachment trial.

So earlier this month, we started seeing excerpts and leaks from Michael Bender of The Wall Street Journal. He's their senior White House correspondent. His book is called "Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story Of How Trump Lost." That triggered a similar process with other books by authors of previous Trump books who now have new ones - two Washington Post reporters, Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker, their book is called "I Alone Can Fix It," and well-known magazine writer Michael Wolff, whose book is called "Landslide."

MARTÍNEZ: Ron, those titles sound like things Trump would say or maybe did say.

ELVING: Yes, he famously said all those things, and, of course, none of them is factual. But we should note the former president also cooperated in each of these three books. That's not always been the case with books about Trump. These all include fresh face-to-face interview material with him. Now, his people have issued denials regarding some of the statements and some of the information in these books. But the former president was willing to sit down and talk with all four of these authors and probably others as well at his resort at Mar-a-Lago.

MARTÍNEZ: All right, so what does the former president have to say for himself?

ELVING: He generally hit his talking points and grievances and grudges about the election, about how he feels it was stolen and how he feels he's been treated very unfairly. He does not soften his tone at all or get historical in his perspective, which suggests someone perhaps maintaining political viability. Of course, that raises the question of him running again in 2024. The general consensus seems to be here that he will keep that option open as long as possible to maximize his influence in the party and in political affairs in general and also his fundraising ability.

MARTÍNEZ: And we already knew that the Trump White House was tumultuous at the very least. And taken together, Ron, what do these books change about what we already know about the Trump presidency?

ELVING: They are primarily extending what we knew deeper into the details and the detailed history of 2020 - the pandemic response, then the campaign, the disastrous rally in Tulsa, the street protests after the killing of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis, the debates with Joe Biden, election night and then, of course, a great deal of emphasis on the 11 weeks during which Trump tried to stay in office and convince the country he had won.

MARTÍNEZ: Including the allegation that he wanted to use the military to stay in office.

ELVING: Yes, most extensively in the Rucker-Leonnig book. They have copious material from Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about Trump's interest, at least, in using regular troops against street protesters after George Floyd and then his maneuverings around the end of the year regarding control of the Pentagon. So Trump's spokesperson has denied he ever considered using the military to stay in power, but this is one of the most interesting episodes, particularly of the "I Alone Can Fix It" story.

MARTÍNEZ: All right, that's NPR's Ron Elving. Ron, thanks a lot.

ELVING: Thank you, A.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

clock This article was published more than  2 years ago

Donald Trump’s photo memoir is revisionist history and old grudges

books about donald trump

Last June, in a moment of unintentional honesty, Donald Trump said, “I’m writing like crazy.”

Yesterday, I received my official copy of the former president’s recently published picture-book memoir, “Our Journey Together” ($74.99, plus shipping). The publisher gushes that “every photograph has been handpicked by the President.” But only 20 of the images include captions written with the famous Sharpie; most are just typed out in a fontastic italic meant to convey Trump’s bold persona.

Images are the perfect lexicon for Trump to articulate a fantastical revision of his four chaotic years in office. Freed from the complexities of language or the context of history, the former president spins a dreamscape of adulation and triumph. A shot of his inauguration crowd spread out across the Mall doesn’t have to contend with his administration’s first official alternative fact .

It’s remarkable how effectively this presentation captures Trump’s wandering mind and self-sabotaging bitterness. Early in the book, there’s a two-page spread showing men repairing a grandfather clock: “After eight years of President Obama,” Trump writes, “we needed to make the White House GREAT again.” No moment, no matter how celebratory, can calm this author’s need to lash out at his perceived enemies. Another spread shows Trump talking from a podium about his historic tax cut with “some conservative patriots and some weak RINOs.” Even death can’t quell the man’s bile: A photo in the Oval Office of Trump speaking to John and Cindy McCain says, “John McCain visited me in the White House, asking for a job for his wife. I am smiling, but I didn’t like him even a little bit.” Below a photo of an intimate dinner party that includes Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Mark Zuckerberg, Trump writes, “Mark Zuckerberg would come to the White House and kiss my ass.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), shown negotiating in a conference room, is “f---ing CRAZY – hence the name Crazy Nancy!” (That is one of the few captions written in Sharpie, and it hovers over an image of the presidential seal.)

In short, this is a memoir spun from the thin gruel of musty propaganda and cherished grudges. Turning these pages is like watching an old man dust his Hummel figurines and whine about the neighbors.

Books, speeches, hats for sale: Post-presidency, the Trumps try to make money the pre-presidency way

The book is published by Winning Team Publishing, which describes itself as “the nation’s premier conservative publishing house.” It was launched last year by Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign aide Sergio Gor. “Our Journey Together” was supposed to be ready for Christmas. But Winning Team’s printer ran into supply problems. Trump told Fox News: “They have no paper, they have no glue, they have no leather.” Make that pleather , but that’s no matter. The man who once hawked vodka, real estate classes, spring water and steaks is on a roll.

‘He never stopped ripping things up’: Inside Trump’s relentless document destruction habits

Appropriately, his nominations of Supreme Court justices are highlighted, but for some reason, the book includes four pages of Japanese sumo wrestlers, a nod to Trump bankrolling the United States President’s Cup, awarded to “the number one sumo wrestler in the world.” The omissions elsewhere are breathtaking. Trump says little about his two impeachments, except for a photo of him holding up a copy of The Washington Post with the headline “Trump acquitted.” The deaths of 400,000 Americans from covid during his administration goes unmentioned, aside from noting that he enjoyed “a quick recovery” after he caught the virus. The assault on the Capitol that he inspired and his multiple attempts to subvert the election of Joe Biden are elided altogether.

Presidential scholars of the future will also be perplexed by the ordering of these photos. Weirdly, the first White House official to be featured in the book is Ronny L. Jackson, the physician who was accused of creating a hostile work environment, drinking on the job and passing out drugs like candy. Soon after comes a photo of Fox News opinion host and Trump cheerleader Sean Hannity , whose relevance to the administration needs no explanation. On page 61, there’s a happy picture of Trump walking with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman , who, according to the CIA , approved the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The chilling logic of these selections is surely more revealing than Trump realizes.

Some of the captions are merely recycled campaign talking points. As for insights drawn from his time in office, while touring the Churchill War Rooms in London, Trump observes that Churchill was “a real HERO.” He reveals that “Israel’s capital, Jerusalem” is “a very holy place.”

What’s most striking, though, is the book’s sterility, its determined lack of intimacy. Although many photos feature his family, the majority of pictures appear to have been drawn from official ceremonies, public appearances and work duties. Only a handful of photos across more than 300 pages show Trump without a tie. He notes a celebration of his birthday by showing a full-page photo of the official dinner menu. Trump closes the book with three double-spreads in a row of large crowds of fans. The last photo is a close-up of Trump alone, looking solemnly to the side. Then there’s a Sharpie note: “America, our journey continues. Together we will take our country back. We will WIN!”

How Trump’s political style smothered the last substance left in the GOP

The publisher claims to have already sold more than 200,000 copies — not many compared to memoirs by the Obamas , but still lucrative, considering the book required little more than rifling through publicity photos and burping up MAGA catchphrases. Fittingly, “Our Journey Together” is dedicated to “the Deplorables” because, Trump writes, “You got me here!” But one closes this political brochure wondering exactly where here is.

This review was excerpted from the Book Club newsletter .

Our Journey Together

By Donald J. Trump

Winning Team Publishing. 319 pp. $74.99

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

books about donald trump

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10 best books on the Donald Trump presidency

From searing satire to explosive exposés, these are the reads you need to make sense of the man in the white house, article bookmarked.

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Fascinating and horrifying in equal measure, the implications of the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency cannot be underestimated. From satire to scholarship, from polemic to protest, much ink has been spilled in the last year in an attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible – and as much as we tried to find a balance of opinions on the Trump presidency, the reactions to it, and the present state of democracy, have been generally negative. The books surveyed here explore the Trump phenomenon, its possible causes and probable consequences, and the likely long-term effects on us all, throughout America and the rest of the world.

Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House by Luke Harding: £14.99, Guardian Books/Faber

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Collusion – robustly denied by Trump but convincingly demonstrated in this exposé by former Guardian Moscow correspondent Luke Harding – is the subject of the on-going and highly contentious Mueller investigation. Harding adheres to the maxim “follow the money”, and despite Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, his detailed research reveals the tortuous and shadowy links between the Trump empire and Russian cash, going back decades. The explosive dossier written by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele is corroborated through interviews with the man himself, as well as others in the intelligence community. A solid piece of investigative reporting this certainly is, but it’s also an enthralling page turner with twists and turns worthy of a Le Carre spy thriller.

Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green: £14.99, Scribe

Out in paperback and with a new preface, Devil’s Bargain takes us to the heart of the alt-right in the US and its links with the Trump presidency. Steve Bannon, almost unknown before Trump was elected, quickly hit the headlines when he was enthroned as chief strategist and became a ubiquitous and controversial presence in the White House. The alliance with Trumpism was always fragile however, and since this book was written he has been banished from the White House, airbrushed from Trump’s version of history, and faces an uncertain future in the political wilderness. Joshua Green is one of the US’s best-known journalists, and has been covering the development of right-wing politics closely for the last few years. He published an in-depth profile of Bannon, who he got to know well, in 2015. This book, closely based on interviews with Bannon and other right-wing figures in politics and media, is a fascinating insight into the underbelly of politics in the US, and a pacy, entertaining read.

Creeping Fascism: Brexit, Trump and the Rise of the Far Right by Neil Faulkner: £12, Public Reading Rooms

This is an important and timely book, which makes a persuasive case for the rise of fascistic tendencies among our ruling elite, tendencies which are insinuating themselves into the body politic by hiding in plain sight. Trump’s election was a manifestation of the lurch to the anti-democratic far right, echoed in other countries around the world. Faulkner argues that we are living in a “second wave” of fascism and that we ignore its creeping threat at our peril. Far from being a spontaneous backlash by the poor against the system, he sees the rise of the neo-fascist right as a deliberate power grab, engineered by bullies in suits rather than paramilitary thugs in uniform. Powerfully argued and clearly written, this is a call to arms against complacency.

Unbelievable: My Front Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur: £20, Dey St. Books

Katy Tur is a journalist on MSNBC and as Trump announced his run for president back in 2015, she was assigned to the campaign. Nearly two years later she had travelled thousands of miles and attended dozens of rallies, filing reports from the front line. This is her story, and as much about what it’s like to be a news reporter at the heart of a media whirlwind as about the campaign itself. The highs and lows, the exhaustion and exhilaration, the fears for her safety as Trump whipped up hatred against the media, and above all the mystery of the man himself, singling her out by name at his rallies as if in some perverse parody of a love/hate relationship – Tur’s personal odyssey is also a disturbing chronicle of political madness unfolding.

If Only They Didn’t Speak English by Jon Sopel: £20, BBC Books

The United States is a foreign country– yes they speak English, but that doesn’t mean they’re like us. The BBC’s North American editor, Jon Sopel, takes us on a tour of the cultural differences, focussing on Americans’ love affair with guns and religion, their distrust of big government, tradition of individualism, struggles over race, and more. These themes are reflected in politics and Sopel shows how they translated into support for Trump and his uncompromising agenda. In a chummy style, complete with puns and jokes, he expertly probes the contradictions and quirks of history which led to the shock of the Trump victory. From the perspective of an outsider who is very much on the inside and in the know, Sopel makes an entertaining and perceptive attempt to understand modern America.

Trump’s First Year by Michael Nelson: £19.95, University of Virginia Press

Measured, scholarly, and always accessible, this is a cogent analysis of the first year of the Trump presidency from a respected academic. It refutes any accusation of partisanship by presenting indisputable – rather than alternative – facts, and the result is a damning litany of failure, incompetence, and cronyism. Trump’s insistence during the campaign that his much-vaunted business acumen would translate into efficiency and effectiveness in government is shown to be wide of the mark. Everything in the book is already in the public domain, but is gathered here into a narrative timeline which makes an objective (and fully annotated) assessment of an extraordinary year.

In America: Tales from Trump Country by Caitriona Perry: £19.99, Gill Books

Award-winning Irish journalist Catriona Perry explored the Trump heartlands, from Florida to Michigan, Texas to New York, recording conversations with Trump supporters from all walks of life, and the result is an illuminating travelogue which helps to shed some light on the multifarious reasons why ordinary voters backed the reality TV star. And why most of them continue to do so, despite – and sometimes because of – the scandal and controversy that has surrounded this presidency from the start. The picture which emerges is one of a deeply divided nation, where pivotal issues such as abortion and gun control, along with the perception of a corrupt and uncaring government, combined to swing votes towards the unlikeliest of candidates and plunged the US into an identity crisis.

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff: £20, Little, Brown

Gossipy, shocking, contentious, intimate and titillating, this is a fly-on-the-wall account of goings-on in the Trump White House as observed by journalist Michael Wolff from his position on a West Wing sofa. The culture of leaks, feuds, and backstabbing played into his hands. Arch-leaker and senior strategist Steve Bannon did not survive the putsch that followed, but the book became a controversial bestseller and required reading for Trump-watchers everywhere. Legal attempts to ban its publication backfired, as did Trump’s supposed plan to use his bid for the presidency solely to boost his commercial brand – according to Wolff, he never thought he would win. Then he did. The shambles that ensued is the subject of this addictive chronicle of chaos.

Fake News: Strange Historical Facts Reimagined in the World of Donald Trump by David Hutter: £4.99, independently published

The Trump presidency has been a gift for satirists – everything, from his speech patterns to his egotism to his hairstyle, has proved irresistible targets for mockery. In Fake News , David Hutter cleverly counterpoints imaginary events in Trumpworld with some historical oddities to show that we have indeed “been here before”. A killer rabbit, a lost nuclear missile, and a madcap scheme to change the number of days in a week all feature in an outrageous and sharply targeted send-up of Trump and his hapless administration. Funny and cutting, this is the perfect antidote to despair.

Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum: £20, HarperCollins

Many Republicans are, of course, deeply hostile to the Trump project, and as a conservative commentator and former speechwriter for George W Bush, David Frum provides a right-of-centre perspective on the direction of America since Trump came to power. In fact he argues that Trump is actually opposed to fundamental conservative principles, and is an opportunist who has allied himself to a political party which, to its shame, has sold its soul for short-term gain. Frum’s analysis of what he terms this “repressive plutocracy” now in charge makes cogent and compelling reading and should concern anyone who cares about the future of democracy.

The Verdict: Books on the Donald Trump presidency

“Collusion” is the word on everyone’s lips right now, not least Donald Trump’s. His oft-repeated assertion that there never was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia requires serious scrutiny, as the implications of any kind of covert meddling in the democratic process are potentially explosive. Luke Harding’s Collusion is thoroughly researched, expertly written, highly entertaining, and an invaluable aid for any reader who wants hard facts to counter the spin and propaganda.

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The Lessons of Reading Every Book About Trump

books about donald trump

By Katy Waldman

Donald Trump waving at a campaign rally

Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid slammed into Earth, releasing such a thick plume of toxic particles that most of the creatures spared by tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires died of asphyxiation, cold, or hunger. It was exeunt dinosaurs, along with most life on the planet. In the rebooted world, mammals reigned, despite their high body temperatures (which chewed up calories) and relatively low reproductive rates. For years, this rise was a scientific mystery. How did such inefficient life-forms beat the competition? One explanation is that the dark, wet Earth, newly crowded with decaying matter, became a fungal paradise. Molds flourished and bloomed, colonizing the flesh of cold-blooded vertebrates; meanwhile, the trait that seemed to spell doom for the mammals—their heat—protected them.

I learned this history from a podcast, “Radiolab,” while desperately seeking distraction from an apocalyptic news cycle. (To the episode’s credit, it didn’t end with the words “and that’s how we got Trump.”) The next segment was about the many thousands of species of fungi that are now evolving in response to climate change . Our ancient enemies, it seems, are beginning to tolerate dangerously high temperatures, and could soon gain the ability to thrive in warm-blooded hosts. If they do, a scientist informed the podcast’s warm-blooded host, the age of mammals might be revealed for what it is: an epoch-spanning fluke.

Which brings me to Carlos Lozada’s new book, “ What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era .” Lozada, the nonfiction book critic at the Washington Post , revisits all the books on Donald Trump that he’s read since 2015: about a hundred and fifty titles, each purporting to illuminate the man and his times. (Immediately, the reader is primed for the sequel: “What Was I Thinking.”) One of the book’s standout preoccupations is whether Trump is an asteroid or a fungus. In other words, was the President’s victory a freak event, a chunk of debris that crashed into the country and transformed it forever? Or had Trumpism long been waiting in the soil, its destiny intertwined with ours? As Lozada shows, some Trump books exclaim over the norms that this Administration has broken; others take a longer view, considering the White House’s channelling of dark American traditions. Lozada finds the second approach more useful (the revolution will, and should, be contextualized) but leaves room for the fact that Trump has degraded us, and that some of the rot can be scraped off.

The book’s most original idea is its structure: a taxonomy that presents ten types of Trump book, including the White House “chaos chronicles” (“an endless encore of officials expressing concern”), “heartlandia” (lyrical portraits of Trump voters in flyover country), “Russian lit” (a genre which both looks at Trump’s personal ties to Russia and unpacks his Soviet-style tactics), and activism manuals for the resistance. Each chapter offers an essay made up of loosely connected mini-reviews; because there’s a lot of stylish recapping, the appeal of Lozada’s study can depend on the material being discussed. A chapter on the erosion of truth contains a fascinating précis of “ A Lot of People Are Saying ,” Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum’s tract about “the new conspiracism,” which proceeds via “innuendo and repetition” and “substitutes social validation for scientific validation.” (With Trump, Lozada writes, “there is conspiracy, but no theory.”) A chapter on immigration, which thrums with Lozada’s mixed feelings about what America has come to mean for the hopeful and the suffering—Lozada, originally from Peru, obtained U.S. citizenship in 2014—is enriched by references to “ This Land Is Our Land ,” by Suketu Mehta, and Greg Grandin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning history, “ The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America .” For Mehta, Lozada writes, immigration isn’t simply a matter of go-getters with big dreams; it’s “reparations . . . payback for colonialism, for the plunder of resources, for ecological and economic devastation.” Grandin, meanwhile, believes that once Americans lost the “safety valve” of a frontier and became hemmed in by a border, the result was “an extremism turned inward, all-consuming and self-devouring.”

The most entertaining chapter, “The Conservative Pivot,” maps Trump’s effect on the right’s media ecosystem. There are the sycophants, Lozada shows, with their sloppy, hagiographic accounts of the President’s “invincibility.” (Think Jeanine Pirro and Newt Gingrich .) There are the conservative intellectuals, such as Rich Lowry or the military historian Victor Davis Hanson, who labor to dress Trumpism up in tweed. Lozada reserves his most annihilating judgment for the Never Trumpers, who, in a series of books he calls “meh culpas,” bemoan the G.O.P.’s tribalism and obstinance but refuse to examine how the Party got that way. Lozada proposes that the Never Trumpers change their name to Only Trumpers. “Had Trump come close but failed to win the 2016 Republication nomination,” he notes, brilliantly, “the conscience and corrosion of conservatism, the mind of the Right, would remain undisturbed and unexamined. Only with Trump. Maybe they should thank him.”

Lozada’s strengths as a critic are obvious. He is charming, funny, and light on his feet, and his descriptions are exceptionally clear and pithy. Pro-Trump intellectuals “claim to support the president for his principles but they really love him for his enemies,” he writes. And: “Bush hoped to remake the world. Trump just makes it up as he goes along.” This aphoristic style cuts to the quick of complex ideas, making them easy to maneuver in the course of the book’s meta-analysis. Yet Lozada also tends to substitute minor aesthetic judgments for evaluations of a work’s substance, as when he complains that Gregg Jarrett “argues by adverb” and that Robin DiAngelo’s “ White Fragility ” “reads like a pharmaceutical ad for treating whiteness.” (As someone who, initially beguiled by DiAngelo’s ideas, remains curious about the backlash against her, I was eager to hear how Lozada would prosecute his case. Instead, he simply asks the book to “do better.”)

And “What Were We Thinking” ’s complaints can be confusing. Lozada attacks Naomi Klein’s resistance tome “ No Is Not Enough ” for outlining a specific and ambitiously progressive policy platform. (“Demilitarization of police. Free college tuition. One hundred percent renewable energy.”) A few pages later, he announces that “the resistance books are packed with calls for the renewal of the American story but give no clear sense of how to begin.” Lozada also chides Klein, along with the writer Dana Fisher and the social activist Brittany Packnett Cunningham, for excluding moderate and conservative voices from their movement. “The intellectuals of the resistance seem to deliberately alienate prospective foot soldiers, prioritizing the purity of resistance over its expansion,” he writes. But the very next chapter is the one in which Lozada savages the Never Trumpers, suggesting that the issue is less line-drawing per se than where, exactly, the line is drawn.

Did we arrive here because of an asteroid? Mold? Climate change? In one sense, “What Were We Thinking” studies the hazards of trying to pick apart the innumerable contingencies that prop up a moment. Most of the titles being discussed lean on a specific theory or framework, which can’t help but prove incomplete. (At times, Lozada seems to fault the books for this limitation—several interesting-sounding projects are dismissed for their failure to definitively explain, say, the “white working class.”) But, taken together, the hope is that the literature will paint a rich cumulative picture. Through a combination of summary and critique, Lozada is trying to achieve what he believes the authors he’s writing about mostly have not: a genuinely revelatory Trump book.

The conventional wisdom, of course, is that we know all we need to know—and perhaps all there is to know—about who Trump is. Lozada seems to steer around the flatness, the weird transparency, of his subject by suggesting that “the most essential books of the Trump era are scarcely about Trump at all.” There is a hint of circular reasoning here: volumes are assessed for their ability to elucidate the Trump age, yet they are only selected because Lozada believes that they should elucidate the Trump age. At times, one is left with the impression of a critic who has lumped together disparate works in order to have something to criticize.

And, just as Lozada assumes that all books about the present can be made to speak to Trump, he also assumes that all books can be made to speak well . For him, either a work offers insight in the traditional fashion or it inadvertently reveals the folly that helped sweep us to where we are. As the introduction makes clear, “What Were We Thinking” is largely a critical history—a scathing one—which examines intellectual projects that, as Lozada argues, are riddled with “blind spots, resentments, and failures of imagination.” (Exceptions exist: an epilogue singles out the twelve volumes that “helped me make sense of this time,” Lozada writes, and he has a gift, perhaps in spite of himself, for making whatever title he’s describing sound at least a little alluring.) The badness, though, is a feature, not a bug. Sycophantic praise poems by Fox News personalities, self-important nothingburgers by anonymous White House staffers, memoirs that condescend to coal miners or rely heavily on “racial grievance”: according to Lozada, they all uncover something “essential” about our moment.

Sure. But the “good” Trump books make their points more fully than Lozada can, and dissecting the “bad” books—his more central concern—only yields the most obvious truths. If I were Lozada, straining to find meaning in an empty publishing phenomenon, I might take the redundancy dogging his project as a lesson for our time. Once, it was effective to underline Trump’s abnormality. Later, it seemed fitting to situate the Administration’s atrocities within a wider context of disgrace. Both framings—Trump as exception, Trump as steroidal avatar of the country that formed him—have always been true. The difference is that, in 2020, they are equally banal. Watching Lozada press his lively intelligence into what feels, in places, like a critique of itself is its own education in saturation, and in the incentives of a culture that is designed to keep talking long after there’s anything left to say.

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Taking Down Trump

12 Rules for Prosecuting Donald Trump by Someone Who Did It Successfully

By Tristan Snell

Category: domestic politics.

Jan 30, 2024 | ISBN 9781685891251 | 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 --> | ISBN 9781685891251 --> Buy

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Taking Down Trump by Tristan Snell

Jan 30, 2024 | ISBN 9781685891251

Jan 30, 2024 | ISBN 9781685891268

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About Taking Down Trump

  • How voters and activists hold prosecutors accountable
  • How to stand up to Trump’s public bullying
  • How to persevere against all the stonewalling and counterattacks
  • How to get key figures to cooperate and cough up critical evidence 

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“Tristan Snell holds the distinction of being the only prosecutor – so far – to achieve a major legal victory against Trump… [in] his new book, Taking Down Trump , he sets out 12 rules that prosecutors should follow to overcome the former president’s ferocious tactics and secure convictions.” – ipaper “A trial lawyer explores the many ways that Donald Trump has succeeded in evading punishment—and how to thwart him henceforth.. . .  A valuable set of program notes; readers will eagerly wait to see if prosecutors act as Snell hopes they will.” — Kirkus Reviews “An indispensable must-read. This is THE book to read to understand what’s going on in the cases against Trump.” — Joy Reid, MSNBC News anchor and host of The ReidOut “This is a one-of-a-kind book.  No one beat Donald Trump before Tristan and his colleagues at the NY AG’s office proved it could be done. If you care about our democracy and about finally bringing Donald Trump and all his cronies to justice, then you absolutely need to read this book.” — Michael Cohen, former Trump attorney and author of the New York Times bestseller Revenge “Tristan Snell is one of the most important voices in today’s battle to protect the precious gift of our democracy; this book is an essential read for anyone who knows our future and our freedom is at stake.” — Rick Wilson, political strategist and author of the number one New York Times bestseller, Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever “A timely, entertainingly written, fact-laden inside account of the prosecutorial campaign (2013-2016) to expose the Trump University scam and provide some justice for its victims, “Taking Down Trump” is also a handbook for future prosecutors hoping to bring criminal charges against the most flamboyantly corrupt President in US history.” — Joyce Carol Oates, bestselling author and winner of the Jerusalem Prize “Tristan Snell is one of the very few people on the planet to bring a case against Donald Trump and win. This is a masterclass in how to bring corrupt American oligarchs to justice.” — Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor and NBC/MSNBC News legal analyst

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books about donald trump

All The Books About Trump’s Presidency…So Far

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Anna Gooding-Call

Anna Gooding-Call is a librarian and writer originally from rural central New York. She got her BA in the city that inspired "The Twilight Zone" and confirms that the hitchhikers really are weird there. Today, she lives in Massachusetts with her wife and two cats.

View All posts by Anna Gooding-Call

Say what you will about a life of perfidy and misconduct, it’s fun to read about criminality. Devotees of true crime will insist that they’re there for the takedown, but really, who are they kidding? Without a proper buildup, that satisfying gotcha moment just doesn’t pop. If Ted Bundy doesn’t murder a bunch of innocent people, we won’t care when the police nab him. The misdeed is as important to the book’s readability as the sweet, sweet justice. This may explain why, midway through his chaotic first presidential term, we’ve got a thriving new genre based on books about Donald Trump.

books about donald trump

I’m not going to discuss the degree to which these accounts are factual, because honestly, I have no idea. What I’d like to do is to count them and list them chronologically.

It would be nice if I could say, with perfect honesty, that this post is meant to highlight an unhealthy media obsession with a deeply troubled man who can’t help but hurt himself and the people around him for any amount of attention, good or bad. I’d love to be that deep and empathic.

It would also be lovely if I could somehow poignantly demonstrate that no educated body politic could derive meaningful information from this cacophony and respectfully debate whether the earnest efforts of journalists to provide critical information are noble or quixotic. I could even throw ex-administration authors into the picture as an example of how celebrity antics can make honest journalism seem foolish through association. That would probably be a very intellectual and interesting piece. I’d have citations. Maybe even an interview.

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However, I am first and foremost a librarian. I like data and I don’t have enough about this bizarre new true crime/celebrity bio/political thriller genre to draw any real conclusions about it. For example, how many Trump books are there, excluding self-published works? At what rate are they hitting the shelves? How much would it cost to buy one copy of every title published since 2016? Until I know this esoterica, I must not only forbear from speculating about the genre’s qualities and future, but I must spend my livelong nights staring, red-eyed, at the ceiling, haunted. So let’s dive right into the good part: the numbers.

I found no less than 51 qualifying books about the Trump presidency, excluding self-published works. I’ll list them below in chronological order. Maybe you have a weird-ass reading list you’d like to add them to. Also, it’s entirely possible that I missed some, so please do comment about them if so. Heaven knows we need more of this nonsense. Check out the graph below if you’re more of a visual processor.

A chart showing the number of books about Donald Trump published since his swearing-in.

Cory Lewandowsi, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, and David Cay Johnston have each written two Trump books. I’ve marked the 10 books authored by former campaign or administration employees with a triangle. Roger Stone’s second Trump book isn’t on the list because as of this writing, it hasn’t been published yet.

To give these numbers some context, I have found less than 10 books written about or by Barack Obama during his presidency and campaign. Two of those were by Obama himself. I have also found 16 Obama books that hit the shelves after Trump swore in. Some are laudatory and nostalgic, others are hostile. Many seem to be reactions to the Trump presidency one way or another. It may be useful, if demoralizing, to consider Obama books a genre variant on or offshoot of Trump books.

New hardcover copies of each Trump book cost between $25 and $30, but paperbacks, used copies, and price cuts of 50% or more abound. This suggests that the genre, whose material is entertaining but fairly narrow in scope, may be approaching some kind of market saturation. Eventually, perhaps there will be nothing more to say about the President’s competence or lack thereof. At that point, it’s unclear what will happen to this ballooning literary phenomenon. A bubble bust situation seems possible.

If you’ve bought and read a new copy of every single representative of the Trump genre over the past three years, then congratulations! You’ve spent about $1,305 on Trump books. Of course, if you’ve borrowed them from your public library, then  they have spent about $1,305—maybe a little less with their library discount, maybe a little more if they’ve gone in for multiple copies of the most notable titles. That money came from you anyway, because you pay taxes. In that sense, if you’ve bought any Trump books with your own post-taxes income, you’ve kinda double-paid. Sorry, pal.

Preorders and Legacy Hits

However, judging from America’s recent surge in political nonfiction sales , you’re not alone in your desire to possess a book of Trump. Plenty of people are grabbing the hits right off the shelves and slapping down real money for them, which has elevated several onto the New York Times bestseller list. Buyers are also ordering them ahead. Woodward’s book alone topped 1 million presale units . I haven’t even attempted to count sales of legacy books by and about the president. Older titles concerning Trump  have also benefitted from our current political drama. While these could be considered associated and possibly entangled with true Trump presidency books, they were written in a different context and never intended for the same informative purposes. Therefore, I have excluded them from the scope of my research.

So here’s the whole list of books about the Trump presidency, every one I could find published post–January 2016, arranged chronologically. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the positions these books take, and nor do I consider every single one a viable and reliable source. However, they are now an undeniable feature of the publishing landscape. For how long, who knows? When this administration passes, as it inevitably will, it will leave behind a historic trail of literary detritus. Let’s hope it’s doing somebody some good.

The Truth About Trump by Michael D'Antonio

In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! by Ann Coulter, August 2016

Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America by David Horowitz, January 2017

► The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution by Roger Stone, January 2017

How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution by Joel Pollak and Larry Schweikart, February 2017

Trump’s War: His Battle for America by Michael Savage, March 2017

► Understanding Trump by Newt Gingrich and Eric Trump, June 2017

The Swamp: Washington’s Murky Pool of Corruption and Cronyism and How Trump Can Drain It by Eric Bolling, June 2017

Rogue Spooks: The Intelligence War on Donald Trump by Dick Morris, August 2017

Trumped Up: How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy by Alan Dershowitz, August 2017

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump by Bandy Lee

All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump by Edward Klein, October 2017

God and Donald Trump by Stephen E. Strang, November 2017

Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House by Donna Brazile, November 2017

The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston, November 2017

Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win by Luke Harding, November 2017

► Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story Of His Rise To The Presidency by Cory Lewandowsi, December 2017

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing To America by David Cay Johnston, January 2018

Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth by Howard Kurtz, January 2018

Killing the Deep State: The Fight To Save President Trump by Jerome Corsi, March 2018

Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff, March 2018

► A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey, April 2018

Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other by Conrad Black, May 2018

The Plot to Destroy Trump: How the Deep State Fabricated the Russian Dossier to Subvert the President by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, May 2018

Trump’s America: The Truth about Our Nation’s Great Comeback by Newt Gingrich, June 2018

Born Trump by Emily Jane Fox

The Case Against Impeaching Trump by Alan Derschowitz, July 2018

Leakers, Liars, and Liberals: the Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy by Jeanine Pirro, July 2018

► The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President  by Sean Spicer, July 2018

The Russia Hoax: the Illicit Scheme to Clear Hilary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump by Gregg Jarrett, July 2018

► Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House by Omarosa Manigault-Newman, August 2018

Everything Trump Touches Dies: a Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever by Rick Wilson, August 2018

Resistance Is Futile!: How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind by Ann Coulter, August 2018

Under Fire: Reporting From the Front Lines of the Trump White House by April Ryan, September 2018

Fear by Bob Woodward

Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: the Thrills, Chills, and Occasional Blackouts of an Extraordinary Presidency by Major Garrett, September 2018

The Deep State: How an Army of Bureaucrats Protected Barack Obama and Is Working to Destroy the Trump Agenda by Jason Chaffetz, September 2018

Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President by Justin A. Frank, September 2018

Full Disclosure by Stormy Daniels and Michal Avenatti, October 2018

The Apprentice: Trump, Russia, and the Subversion of American Democracy by Greg Miller, October 2018

Golden Handcuffs: the Secret History of Trump’s Women by Nina Burleigh, October 2018

Trumpocracy by David Frum

Trumped!: The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump—His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall by John R. O’Donnell and James Rutherford, September 2018

► Trump, the Blue-Collar President by Anthony Scaramucci, October 2018

Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America by Seth Abramson, November 2018

The Case for Impeaching Trump by Elizabeth Holtzman, November 2018

► Trump’s Enemies: How the Deep State is Undermining the Presidency by Cory Lewandowski, November 2018

Mar-A-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace by Laurence Leamer, January 2019

► Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House by Cliff Sims, January 2019

► Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics  by Chris Christie, January 2019

books about donald trump

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Opinion | Three new books about Trump paint a scary picture

All three suggest that his final year in office — which included covid-19, a racial reckoning and a presidential election — was worse than we thought..

books about donald trump

It’s the season of Trump. Book season, that is.

Two books about Donald Trump came out Tuesday — Michael Bender’s “Frankly We Did Win This Election,” and Michael Wolff’s “Landslide.” Another — “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year” by The Washington Post’s Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker — comes out next week.

All three mostly concentrate on Trump’s final year in office, a year that included COVID-19, a national reckoning on race and the 2020 presidential election.

And what do these books tell us?

Well, here’s the headline on an opinion piece by CNN’s Chris Cillizza: “Yes, Donald Trump’s final days in office were even worse than we thought.”

Cillizza writes, “And all three (books) present what can only be described as a terrifying picture of a president consumed by personal hatred and unwilling to even consider the limits his predecessors had placed on themselves in office.”

Wolff’s book is the third he has written about Trump, following up “Fire and Fury” and “Siege.” In a review of the book for The New York Times , Nicholas Lemann writes, “Trump, in these pages, is self-obsessed, delusional and administratively incompetent. He has no interest in or understanding of the workings of government. He doesn’t read or listen to briefings. He spends vast amounts of time watching conservative television networks and chatting on the phone with cronies. The pandemic puts him at a special disadvantage; many of the people around him are either sick or afraid to come to work because that would entail complying with a regime of Covid noncompliance that Trump demands. If anybody tells him something he doesn’t want to hear, he marginalizes or fires that person and finds somebody else to listen to, who may or may not hold an official position. If Fox News becomes less than completely loyal, he’ll switch to Newsmax or One America News Network. He lives in a self-curated information environment that bears only a glancing relationship to reality.”

Meanwhile, Bender, a senior White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal, told CBS News that his biggest takeaway from Trump’s final year in the White House was “how dangerous the people around the president thought he was for the country.”

On Tuesday, The Washington Post ran an excerpt of the book written by its two reporters — Leonnig and Rucker. In it, we see how Trump dug in on the Big Lie, especially when it became apparent he was going to lose. The excerpt went into detail on last November’s election night.

One of the more bizarre moments was how Rudy Giuliani went around to some of Trump’s top advisers, suggesting they just declare Trump the winner in such states as Pennsylvania and Michigan. At one point, then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows raised his voice to say, “We can’t do that. We can’t.”

When Trump spoke at 2 a.m., he was angry that votes were still being counted and said, “As far as I’m concerned, we already have won it.”

In an interview, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Post reporters, “It was just a complete, total manifestation (of) insanity.”

And as we now know, it was only the beginning of Trump’s insistence that he had won the election. And that wasn’t the only head-shaking part of the excerpt. In fact, Mediaite’s Colby Hall has a piece called, “Just Say We Won’: 9 Most Bonkers Revelations from Trump Election Night Tell-All, ‘I Alone Can Fix It.’”

Why the title “Landslide?” Well, partly because Trump actually thought he was going to win the election in a landslide. The book reports Trump as telling allies, “I can’t lose to this (expletive) guy.”

The books appear to be a fascinating look into the final year and days of the Trump presidency, as well as what the future could hold. As Lemann wrote in his Times review of Wolff’s book: “Wolff doesn’t make a direct prediction. But he leaves us with the strong impression that Trump will be running for president again in 2024.”

This comes as no surprise: The Pew Research Center found that the average audience for the three major cable news channels (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC), as well as for network and local TV news, increased in 2020. It’s no surprise because 2020 was a busier-than-usual news year with COVID-19, the election and stories about race following the murder of George Floyd by police.

Pew found that Fox News’ average prime-time audience increased 61% in 2020 from the year before (3.08 million compared with 1.92 million in 2019). CNN went from 1.05 million to 1.80 million — a 72% increase. MSNBC’s audience jumped 28% from 1.3 million to 1.6 million — a 28% jump. Daytime viewership also was up for all three networks.

Also of note among cable viewing, Pew reported Newsmax had an average primetime audience of 115,000 in 2020. Pew also reported Newsmax made $26 million in revenue in 2020, virtually all from advertising.

Meanwhile, network news also saw growth, according to Pew . ABC’s “World News Tonight” had an average audience of 7.6 million (16% increase); the “NBC Nightly News”’ had 6.5 million (8% increase); and the “CBS Evening News” had about 5 million — a 7% increase.

As far as local TV news , Pew found viewership increased in two key time slots — evenings (4 to 7 p.m.) and late night (11 p.m. to 2 a.m.). That viewership was each up 4%. Midday news (11 a.m. to 2 pm.) increased 10%. However, the morning news time slot (6 to 9 a.m.) saw a 4% decrease.

Stephen A. Smith apologizes on air for comments

books about donald trump

Baseball star Shohei Ohtani at Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby this week. (AP Photo/Gabriel Christus)

One day after making offensive remarks about Major League Baseball star Shohei Ohtani, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith apologized again on his show “First Take.”

On Monday, Smith suggested on air that Ohtani wasn’t good for baseball and couldn’t be the face of baseball because he uses a translator and rarely speaks English in public.

Smith had previously apologized on Twitter, but started Tuesday’s “First Take” by addressing the topic and, again, apologizing.

“It’s necessary,” Smith said.

He continued, “Let me be the first to stand up and say that I want to express my sincere apologies to the Asian community and Asian American community.”

Smith then told the audience that he is a Black man who often comments on minorities being marginalized in the United States. He said that there were many in the Asian community who were offended by his comments on Monday.

“I was wrong, period,” Smith said. “There is no excuse. This is not ESPN. This is not Disney. … This was me. I said it. And the reality is I was completely clueless as to the kind of impact on this Asian and Asian American community.”

He added, “The second that I was informed about how hurt a group of people in this nation was off of what I said, that’s all that matters to me. Because I don’t intend to hurt people like that.”

He also apologized directly to Ohtani.

Smith’s colleague, Max Kellerman, said that not only is Smith not racist, but he is anti-racist.

Then ESPN did the smart thing. They had guests come on to talk about the topic and Smith listened as those guests clearly pushed back against Smith’s original comments.

ESPN baseball reporter Jeff Passan joined the program and told Ohtani’s story — about leaving his home, family and culture at the age of 23 to pursue his dream of playing Major League Baseball.

Then Passan, clearly alluding to Smith’s comments, said, “He is the sort of person who this show and who this network and who this country should embrace. We are not the ones who should be trafficking in ignorance. We are not the ones who should be perpetuating false ideas that unfortunately far too many out there believe. We should look at Shohei Ohtani as a bastion of what this country and this sports world is about.”

Joon Lee, an ESPN staff writer from Seoul, South Korea, came on the show to explain the reaction of the AAPI community to Smith’s comments, and how it perpetuated the stereotype of foreign-born people in America.

“It furthers this idea that regardless of what we do and what we accomplish in this country that we will never be American,” Lee said.

Smith created a mess for ESPN with his comments, but give credit to the network for handling the aftermath. Smith apologized. And, more importantly, the guests gave excellent insight and feedback into what was wrong with what Smith said.

Richard Deitsch, sports media writer for The Athletic, tweeted , “Just my take: Norby Williamson and ESPN senior management really owe a big debt to Joon Lee, Jeff Passan, Nicole Briscoe and some others at ESPN who were very thoughtful publicly on SAS’s comments and made their company look good amid this (expletive).”

Williamson is ESPN’s executive vice president for event and studio production and executive editor.

Megyn Kelly’s ridiculous claim

books about donald trump

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Apparently the events of Jan. 6 weren’t as bad as the media is making it out to be. That’s according to former Fox News and NBC personality Megyn Kelly.

The insurrection came up while Kelly was on a podcast with comedian Chrissie Mayr. Downplaying what happened first started with Mayr, who said, “I was there and anybody who was there on the 6th is, like, blown away by how, like, inaccurate the media coverage is. At this point, it’s like I don’t want to listen to anybody’s thoughts on the 6th unless they were like there, like physically there, because it was so, like, not a big deal.”

She also called it “extremely peaceful and chill.”

Perhaps Mayr was a different part of the insurrection? You know, the part that didn’t include breaking into the Capitol, killing a police officer and fighting other law enforcement officials?

But then Kelly said, “There is no question the media represented it as so much worse than it actually was.”

No question? I’m curious. Kelly, Mayr and others who are downplaying that day: They do realize this is all on video, right?

Meanwhile, it was announced last week that Kelly is getting a show on SiriusXM starting in September. “The Megyn Kelly” show will air weekdays from noon to 2 p.m. Eastern on the Triumph channel 111.

As far as Jan. 6, The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake writes, “Yes, it was an insurrection.”

Another bizarre statement

I mentioned in Tuesday’s newsletter that Rob Schmitt, a host on the conservative TV network Newsmax, said on air: “I feel like a vaccination in a weird way is just generally kind of going against nature. Like, I mean, if there is some disease out there — maybe there’s just an ebb and flow to life where something’s supposed to wipe out a certain amount of people, and that’s just kind of the way evolution goes. Vaccines kind of stand in the way of that.”

Washington Post media writer Jeremy Barr reached out to Newsmax to see what it thought about an on-air host saying such a thing.

A spokesperson for the network told Barr , “Newsmax as a network strongly supports President Biden’s efforts to widely distribute the COVID vaccine. It is important for the safety of all and especially those at high risk, such as the elderly. Medical professionals who have appeared on Newsmax have strongly encouraged Americans to get the vaccine. From time to time, a guest or host may not be as supportive of these efforts. However, they do not reflect the position of Newsmax.”

Covering the media

Axios’ Sara Fischer is one of the must-read media reporters out there and this appeared at the top of her “Media Trends” column on Tuesday:

“We’re considering an Axios Media Trends subscription product, in addition to what we offer for free, and are asking for feedback on what types of exclusive information and insights would be most valuable to you.” There’s also a survey for feedback.

Hmm, interesting.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Snyder, who used to be at The New Republic, The Atlantic and Gawker, is starting a new daily media newsletter that will cover New York City media. It will be called “Off the Record.” Snyder is charging $75 annually for a subscription.

Snyder writes, “There’s now a lot that happens inside New York newsrooms and board rooms that doesn’t get much, if any, reporting beyond a press release and a tweetstorm. While that’s bad for media gossip fiends, it’s also bad for the community of people who work in New York media. It’s time to bolster the bonds between people who actually care about what gets published each day and, of course, the politics and machinations behind the scenes that went into it.”

New York Times’ media reporter Edmund Lee wrote in a tweet , “That this perhaps needs to exist is noteworthy.”

Media tidbits

  • The Daily Beast’s Diana Falzone and Lloyd Grove with “Bill O’Reilly’s Accuser Finally Breaks Her Silence.”
  • This arrived in my inbox on Tuesday: “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Faculty Council will hold an emergency virtual meeting (today) at 3 p.m. to ‘discuss University administration and governance.’” One would assume this has to do with the recent situation involving Nikole Hannah-Jones not originally being granted tenure at UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and then announcing she was taking a job at Howard University after she was given tenure at UNC. The (Raleigh) News & Observer’s Kate Murphy writes, “UNC faculty chair calls emergency meeting over potential efforts to remove chancellor.”
  • Sunday’s UEFA EURO 2020 soccer final between England and Italy drew 6.48 million viewers on ESPN, making it the most-viewed Euro match ever in the U.S. It was a 43% increase over the 2016 final.
  • The Arizona Republic has a new report out today — a six-month investigation asking why the administration of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, tried to get state officials to give away $100 million in tax refunds to clients of a mega GOP donor? Check the Republic’s website for more.
  • Superb work in The New York Times from Ivan Nechepurenko and Misha Friedman with “The Dark Side of Chess: Payoffs, Points and 12-Year-Old Grandmasters.”
  • For The Washington Post, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli with “A teen was accused of abuse inside Vatican City. Powerful church figures helped him become a priest.”
  • The Emmy nominations came out Tuesday. The Ringer’s Alison Herman with “The 2021 Emmy Nominations Are As Chaotic As the Year We Just Had.” And The Ringer’s Miles Surrey has “The Winners and Losers of the 2021 Emmy Nominations.”

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QAnon ties, bogus litigation: Book details Trump and the effort to overturn Georgia election

books about donald trump

WASHINGTON − In 2020, Georgia was "ground zero for what was arguably the most anti-democratic plot in American history,” according to a new book by two veteran investigative journalists who spent two years examining then-President Donald Trump’s alleged conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election in the Peach State.

The book, “ Find Me the Votes: A Hard-Charging Georgia Prosecutor, a Rogue President, and the Plot to Steal an American Election ," by Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman, both formerly of Newsweek and Yahoo News, was released last week amid widespread coverage of its revelations, which shed new light on how the plot allegedly went nationwide , as did Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s investigation into it.

Trump and 14 co-defendants , including his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and attorney Rudy Giuliani, have denied wrongdoing. The other four people indicted by a Fulton County jury on Aug. 14, 2023, including former Trump legal advisors Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis , have pleaded guilty in exchange for their cooperation in the case. No trial date has been set.

Here are the book's 11 most important exclusive takeaways, based on USA TODAY’s reading of it and an interview with Isikoff and Klaidman. USA TODAY attempted to reach everyone named below, but many were unavailable for comment.

The authors told USA TODAY that so far, no one has contested the specific facts of their findings except a spokesman for Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who called the book's references to him "total and complete BS."

Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide

Asked by USA TODAY if he wanted to comment on the book, Trump's Georgia defense lawyer Steve Sadow replied in an email, saying, "Nope."

More: Fani Willis admits to relationship with prosecutor. What does that mean for the Trump case?

'Hunting licenses,' QAnon ties and bogus litigation

Powell, an election lawyer who spread baseless claims of voter fraud , didn’t just allegedly plot break-ins at election offices around the country to seize voting machines and software in the hopes of proving that hidden computer algorithms had flipped votes from Trump to Biden. She also allegedly then drew up “hunting licenses,” a code name for preemptive presidential pardons that could be given by then-President Trump to operatives assigned to conduct the break-ins.

Trump’s lies about the 2020 election were influenced to a far greater degree than has been known publicly by the QAnon conspiracy cult, according to Isikoff and Klaidman. They said one leader of Trump’s legal effort in Georgia, high-profile lawyer Lin Wood , was a full-fledged QAnon devotee who championed its claims about a vast conspiracy of high-level government pedophiles trying to sabotage Trump’s presidency. Wood reportedly hosted “stop the steal” strategy meetings at Tomotley Plantation, his South Carolina estate that included Powell, former Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn and, by Zoom, a Qanon leader whose online bulletin board hosted the postings that launched the movement. Trump, in turn, allegedly spurred them on, saying, “Go knock ‘em dead,” in a taped phone call with Wood and Powell that was obtained by the authors, they said. Wood and Powell did not respond to requests for a response sent to their lawyers, and Watkins, who the authors said was based in Japan at the time of the meeting, could not be reached for comment.

Trump lawyers may have known some of their consistently unsuccessful lawsuits alleging voter fraud were meritless, hoping merely to create the appearance of controversy by filing suit. In one Nov. 11, 2020, email to Powell, Wood wrote, “I have so much data for you. But we’re not going to need it. We just have to look like we’re pursuing litigation. Ha!”

Election-stealing 'Martians,' a secret tape recording and a 'stone wall' of resistance

After fighting and losing an epic legal battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to block his grand jury subpoena, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., turned on a dime “and threw Trump under the bus,” the authors write, citing a source familiar with Graham’s testimony before Willis’s secret grand jury in Fulton County. According to their source, Graham testified that if you told Trump, “that Martians came and stole the election, he’d probably believe you.” Graham's spokesman, Kevin Bishop, told USA TODAY that the authors never spoke to the longtime senator for the book. "What what they are selling is pretty much total and complete BS," he said. "At the end of the day, this is all just trash for left wing cash." Bishop did not specifically refute any of the books findings regarding Graham, but said, “As for the comment about Martians, Graham has publicly said that."

The bombshell tape of Trump telling Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to “find” enough votes for him to topple Biden in the state – more than 11,000 – was secretly recorded by a young Raffensperger aide named Jordan Fuchs. The 30-year-old political consultant initially agreed to arrange the phone call at the request of then-White House Chief of Staff Meadows, and then recorded it without telling Meadows or Raffensperger. The damning piece of evidence of Trump’s efforts to pressure state officials led directly to Willis’s decision to launch the investigation that led to Trump’s indictment. It also helped spur federal charges by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith . Efforts to reach Fuchs were unsuccessful.

More: Will Trump's trial in Georgia be on TV? Yes, it will. Here's what that means for America.

Fuchs’ taping of the call was only part of an extraordinary “stone wall” of resistance by Georgia’s top Republican office holders who thwarted Trump’s efforts to subvert the state’s election results. Raffensperger’s refusal to succumb to Trump's demands has been reported, but the book details vicious – and at times violent sexual – threats against his wife. It says others, including Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr , also held the line. Carr vowed to resign before defending in court the Trump team’s attempts to convene a special session of the Georgia legislature to anoint pro-Trump electors to replace those won by Biden, according to the book. And he refused to go along with a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other GOP attorneys general to overturn the election results. Georgia’s Republican governor Brian Kemp backed Carr on that too, saying, “Well then f*** em’,” referring to Trump and his allies. 

More: Remember Trump’s call to ‘find’ votes in Georgia? Meet Fani Willis, the DA who could charge him

Venezuelan interference, a body double and a 'terrible' indictment proposal

Willis was subjected to a barrage of vicious personal attacks and threats to her life and her family throughout the lengthy investigation, including from a digitally disguised computer voice sent to her personal cell phone mentioning the names and locations of her two daughters. On the night she announced the grand jury indictment of Trump and the 18 others, Willis’s staff grew so alarmed over internet talk of an assassination attempt as she left the building that they sent out a body double, in a bulletproof vest, instead of her.

Powell, never a formal member of Trump’s legal team, had far more communications with the president throughout the post-election period than has been publicly known, and "had no trouble getting the president on the line." After a former CIA operative brought her a videotape of a one-time security chief to Hugo Chavez suggesting that the late Venezuelan president had once rigged the kind of voting machines used in the U.S. election, Powell called Trump at the White House to say, “Hey, the guys came through, they got the stuff, we need to send it to you," the authors wrote, citing "a source at Tomotley who monitored the conversation. Trump, in turn, “seemed excited,” the source said, and Powell arranged for a flash drive containing the video to be flown on a chartered jet straight to the White House. The allegations were debunked by Trump's own campaign team, but he continued to promote them and encourage top Justice Department officials to “seize” voting machines to try to show that Venezuelan socialists had manipulated the election to benefit Biden.

The Trump campaign was more connected to one of the major counts in the Fulton County indictment than previously known – the orchestrated effort to intimidate Ruby Freeman, an African American election worker, into falsely claiming that she stuffed ballots for Biden on election night, the authors wrote. Harrison Floyd , leader of a group called Black Voices for Trump, not only dispatched Kanye West’s publicist to intimidate Freeman at her home and tell her she was in danger but was paid $136,236 in 32 payments by the Trump campaign. A lawyer for Floyd, Chris Kachouroff, disputed that account and told USA TODAY it was "defamatory." "For people holding themselves out as alleged investigative reporters," he said in an email, "one would have thought they would actually have done some investigation to get Mr. Floyd's side of the story and at least write for the sake of truth."

Private attorney Nathan Wade was not Willis's first – or second – choice to oversee the sprawling election fraud and racketeering investigation that she launched soon after taking office in early 2021. Some high-profile attorneys declined to take the job of special prosecutor or senior counsel out of fears of threats to their physical safety from Trump supporters. “Hypothetically speaking, do you want a bodyguard following you for the rest of your life?” said former Georgia Democratic governor Roy Barnes, who was among those who the authors say turned Willis down.

Willis was critical of Wade and his team, at one point berating them for doing a shoddy job. “Y’all aren’t even close,” Willis snapped as she barged out of the room after watching a PowerPoint of a proposed indictment. “This is f***ing terrible.” Last week, Willis and Wade confirmed accusations made by one defendant that they've been engaged in a romantic relationship, but said it began after he took the job in November 2021, not before, and dismissed calls for them to step down because of it.

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A rally at the Michigan state capitol in Lansing, in October 2021.

How to Steal a Presidential Election review: Trump and the peril to come

Lawrence Lessig and Matthew Seligman show where the danger lies: in the statehouses and governors’ mansions

T he Trump veepstakes is under way. Senator JD Vance and Representative Elise Stefanik prostrate themselves. Both signal they would do what Mike Pence refused: upend democracy for the sake of their Caesar. The senator is a Yale Law School alum and former US marine. Stefanik is the fourth-ranking House Republican. He was once critical of the former president. She was skeptical. Not anymore.

“Do I think there were problems in 2020? Yes, I do,” Vance recently told ABC . “If I had been vice-president, I would have told the states, like Pennsylvania, Georgia and so many others, that we needed to have multiple slates of electors … I think the US Congress should have fought over it from there .”

Last month, Stefanik said : “We will see if this is a legal and valid election. What we saw in 2020 was unconstitutional circumventing of the constitution, not going through state legislators when it comes to changing election law.”

From the supreme court down, the judiciary has repeatedly rejected that contention.

As the November election looms, Lawrence Lessig and Matthew Seligman offer How to Steal a Presidential Election , a granular and disturbing examination of the vulnerabilities and pressure points in the way the US selects its president. Short version: plenty can go wrong.

Lessig is a chaired professor at Harvard Law School . He views a second Trump term as calamitous. “He is a pathological liar, with clear authoritarian instincts,” Lessig writes . “His re-election would be worse than any political event in the history of America  –  save the decision of South Carolina to launch the civil war.”

Seligman is a fellow at the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford, focused on disputed presidential elections . He too views Trump uncharitably.

“Former president Trump and his allies attempted a legal coup in 2020 – a brazen attempt to manipulate the legal system to reverse the results of a free and fair election,” Seligman has said . “Despite all the attention on 6 January 2021 [the attack on Congress], our legal and political systems remain dangerously unprotected against a smarter and more sophisticated attempt in 2024.”

The open question is whether forewarned is forearmed. On the page, Lessig and Seligman spell out seven roads to ruin , the “inverting” of an election to force a result that thwarts voters’ expressed intentions. The authors discount the capacity of a vice-president to unilaterally overturn an election result. But they warn of the potential for havoc at state level.

As they see it, the danger of pledged but not legally bound electors being coerced to vote for Trump when the electoral college convenes is “significant”. They also hypothesize a state governor “interven[ing] to certify a slate of electors contrary to the apparent popular vote”. Another path to perdition includes making state legislatures the final judges of election results. There is also the “nuclear option”, according to the authors, which is stripping the right to vote from the voters.

“A state legislature cancels its election before election day and chooses the state’s electors directly,” as Lessig and Seligman put it, a potential outcome they call a “very significant” possibility under the US constitution.

“State legislators are free to deny their people a meaningful role in selecting our president, directly or indirectly,” they write. “Is there any legal argument that might prevent a legislature from formally taking the vote away from its people? We are skeptical.”

To say US democracy is at risk is not to indulge in hyperbole. Trump’s infamous January 2021 call to Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, is a vivid reminder. “What I want to do is this. I just want to find, uh, 11,780 votes, which is one more than … we have, because we won the state.” Such words continue to haunt.

In an episode that casts a similar pall , Trump and Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee (RNC) chair, urged election officials in Michigan’s Wayne county to block the release of final results.

“Do not sign it … we will get you attorneys,” McDaniel told the officials, regarding certification.

“We’ll take care of that,” Trump said.

Now, as he has for so many former enablers, Trump has taken care of McDaniel. She will shortly be gone from the RNC .

Among Trump’s supporters, discontent with democracy is no secret. During the 2016 campaign, Paul LePage, then governor of Maine, thought Trump needed to show some “ authoritarian power ”. In 2019, Mike Johnson , then a Louisiana congressman, declared : “By the way, the United States is not a democracy. Do you know what a democracy is? Two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner. You don’t want to be in a democracy. Majority rule: not always a good thing.”

Johnson is now House speaker. For good measure, he claims God told him “very clearly” to prepare to become “Moses”.

“The Lord said step forward,” Johnson says.

On the right, many openly muse about a second civil war.

“We’ve already had one, so we know it’s within the realm of possibility,” James Pinkerton, a veteran of the White Houses of Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, recently wrote in the American Conservative.

“In fact, by one reckoning, the English speakers have had two other civil wars in the last four centuries, spaced out every hundred or so years. Is there some sort of deep cycle at work here? With, er, implications for our own troubled times?”

The election won’t be pleasant. In late December , 31% of Republicans believed Joe Biden’s win in 2020 was legitimate. That was eight points lower than two years before. Trump’s criminal trials loom. Through that prism, Lessig and Seligman’s work serves as dire warning and public service.

How to Steal a Presidential Election is published in the US by Yale University Press

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Elon Musk offered to help Twitter engineers reinstate Donald Trump's account after they struggled with glitches, book says

  • Twitter engineers faced technical challenges when reinstating Donald Trump's Twitter account.
  • Engineers struggled to find enough capacity to revive the account, Zoë Schiffer wrote in her new book.
  • The situation got so bad that Musk offered to lend a hand, Schiffer wrote in "Extremely Hardcore."

Insider Today

Elon Musk reinstated Donald Trump' s Twitter account in late 2022 — but reviving the account was far from simple, according to a new book.

Engineers struggled to find the capacity to rebuild the account's social graph, a task requiring millions of pieces of data to be activated and updated, Zoë Schiffer wrote in "Extremely Hardcore."

The team's first attempt at reinstating the account failed, resulting in a series of urgent Slack messages in the minutes after Trump's account was supposed to go live, according to the book.

Engineers faced further issues with the "follow" button on Trump's account and the follower count when they managed to get it up and running, she wrote.

The issues were so significant that Musk , who was then CEO of Twitter , personally offered to lend a hand, Schiffer said in the book.

In a message passed on to engineers by former head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, Musk said: "Anything we need from Elon to help here? If not that is ok but wanted to confirm."

Representatives for X did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, made outside normal working hours.

Donald Trump, who has 87 million followers on X, was banned from the platform following the January 6 riots in Washington DC in 2021. Musk had previously called Twitter's decision to ban the former US President a "grave mistake."

A self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist," Musk polled users about whether to restore Trump's account — with 51% of respondents voting "yes."

Trump has tweeted just once since his account was restored, choosing to post the mug shot taken in a Georgia court in late August last year. He prefers to post on his own platform called Truth Social, even though has has just 6.6 million followers there.

Musk also reinstated several other banned accounts under a "general amnesty" announced in November 2022.

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Watch: OPINION: Media activist shares how Musk could change Twitter

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