Merk argiewe: Trumps

Five bombshells from book charting chaotic final days of Donald Trump’s presidency

Five bombshells from book charting chaotic final days of Donald Trump’s presidency
The book, Verraad: Die finale daad van die Trump Show, is available in stores

An acting Defence Department official was flabbergasted by two cold calls from Trump advisers who demanded that he take unprecedented and possibly illegal actions to aid Mr Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, inspired by QAnon-type conspiracy theories, and a former college quarterback put in charge of hiring and firing officials in charge of the nation’s security, based on their perceived loyalty to Mr Trump.

That’s according to ABC Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl’s new book, Verraad: Die finale daad van die Trump Show, which hit bookstore shelves this week, more than a year after US voters told former The Apprentice host-turned-president Donald Trump: “You’re fired”.

But even though Mr Karl’s chronicle of Mr Trump’s last year in office arrived long after other tomes by authors such as the Washington Post’sBob Woodward and Robert Costa, their colleagues Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, of die Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender pulled the covers off the roller-coaster 2020 election year and its’ aftermath, the veteran television journalist still managed to bring new facts about the former president’s pushes to purge his administration of the disloyal and overturn an election that he lost decisively.

Here are five of the biggest bombshells.

Mr Trump’s associates were cold-calling a top Defence Department official and making ridiculous demands

One of the book’s more outlandish episodes comes from a description of a pair of phone calls received by Ezra Cohen, a onetime protégé of disgraced Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn who was installed as acting undersecretary of defence for intelligence late in Mr Trump’s term.

Mnr Flynn, a retired three-star general who had twice pleaded guilty to lying the FBI during its investigation into potential ties between Mr Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, cold-called Mr Cohen in late November 2020, just days after receiving a presidential pardon.

The ex-national security adviser, who Mr Trump had welcomed back in to the Oval Office as he attempted to overturn the 2020 verkiesingsuitslae, demanded that Mr Cohen return from an official trip to the middle east in order to assist with orders to seize ballots and take “extraordinary measures” that were, in Mr Flynn’s estimation, needed to keep Democrats from supposedly stealing the election.

When Mr Cohen told him that the 2020 election “was over” and it was “time to move on”, Mr Flynn began shouting: “You’re a quitter This is not over! Don’t be a quitter!”.

A short time later, attorney Sidney Powell (who was working with the Trump campaign at the time) called Mr Cohen’s private office number to demand that he authorise a special operations mission, purportedly to retrieve then-CIA Director Gina Haspel from Germany, where Ms Powell believed she had been injured and captured during some sort of mission to cover up how voting machines allegedly switched votes for Mr Trump to be for Joe Biden.

“You need to launch a special operations mission to get her,” she told Cohen.

After he ended the call, she also emailed him to demand a “letter of marque”, an Age of Sail-era document which governments once issued to armed private ships to allow them to engage in combat as privateers against enemy ships in time of war.

According to Article One, Section 8, Clause 11 of the US Constitution, only Congress can issue such a document, and none have been issued since the War of 1812.

Mr Trump fired the Secretary of Defence on advice from the 30-year-old ex-quarterback who once carried his bags

When Mr Trump sent then-Secretary of Defence Mark Esper packing just days after it became clear that he’d lost the 2020 election to Mr Biden, he was following a course of action laid out in a 19 October memorandum by John McEntee, the 30-year-old ex-University of Connecticut football player who the president had promoted from “body man” – the personal aide in charge of carrying his luggage – to head of the White House personnel office.

Mr McEntee’s memo recommended that Mr Trump sack Mr Esper because the defence secretary had exhibited disloyalty by opposing plans to use active duty troops against racial justice protesters – or, as he put it, “put down riots just outside the White House in the nation’s capital – as well as pushing to let the navy discipline an ex-Seal who’d received a pardon from Mr Trump on war crimes charges.

Other alleged transgressions against Mr Trump included Mr Esper’s approval of a promotion for Lt Col Alexander Vindman, the army officer who’d testified before the House Intelligence Committee during the first impeachment investigation into the president, his endorsement of a defence department “diversity and inclusion” board, and his failure to stop the department’s five armed services from instituting similar initiatives to increase recruitment of non-white people.

The president asked his top intelligence official to investigate whether smart thermostats stole the election

Mr Karl also recounts an incident in which Mr Trump asked then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to investigate an internet conspiracy theory which posited that Google’s Nest-branded smart thermostats had somehow been used to hack into the Dominion Voting Systems machines used in Georgia.

The president got the idea from Jeffrey Clark, the Department of Justice official who would later propose that the nation’s top law enforcement officials sign a letter urging Georgia state legislators to intervene so the state’s electoral votes would be cast for Mr Trump, rather than the popular vote winner, Mr Biden.

'[Clark] believed that wireless thermostats made in China for Google by a company called Nest Labs might have been used to manipulate voting machines in Georgia,” Mr Karl wrote. “The idea was nuts, but it intrigued Trump, who asked Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to look into it.”

A Fox News host called the attorney general to berate him about election conspiracy theories

Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo was once one of the most respected business journalists in the country, but by the time the end of 2020 rolled around she was using her daily and weekly shows on the Fox Business Network and Fox News to promote the wild theories promulgated by Trump associates such as Sidney Powell, who Ms Bartiromo hosted on her Sunday Morning Futures program the day after most reputable news organisations called the 2020 race for Mr Biden.

Ms Bartiromo expressed outrage that the Justice Department was not investigating Ms Powell’s outlandish allegations. She asked: “If this is so obvious, why aren’t we seeing massive government investigations?”

Mr Karl reports that Ms Bartiromo would later cold-call Attorney General Bill Barr to shriek at him about how, in her estimation, the Justice Department had not done anything to prevent Democrats from supposedly stealing the election.

“She called me up and she was screaming,” Mr Barr said, according to Mr Karl. “I yelled back at her. She’s lost it”.

A Fox News spokesperson later told Mr Karl that it was Mr Barr “who was aggressive with her, yelling and cursing during the call”.

There are secret photos of Mike Pence reading Mr Trump’s tweet attacking him during the Capitol insurrection

Mr Karl reveals that a White House photographer was present when then-Vice President Mike Pence was taken to a secure location beneath a senate office building after having been whisked away from the Capitol just before pro-Trump rioters breached the Senate chamber.

Mr Pence reportedly refused to board his armoured SUV out of concern that his Secret Service detail would have taken him away from the Capitol complex, and instead passed the time it took to secure the building in a loading dock surrounded by his security detail and a few aides.

According to Karl, the photographs include shots of Mr Pence looking at a phone belonging to Marc Short, his then-chief of staff.

One of the things Mr Short reportedly showed the vice president was a tweet penned by Mr Trump after it became known that Mr Pence would not attempt to prevent certification of Mr Biden’s electoral college victory.

The tweet, sent as rioters were scaling the inaugural platform to gain access to the Capitol, all while chanting “hang Mike Pence,” said that Mr Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution”.

“Pence seems to be grimacing as he looks at Short’s phone, but I’m told Pence never really reacted to Trump’s taunt—not even privately,” Karl wrote.