Making Herself Useful
Omarosa tells how she established her Celebrity Apprentice persona (it’s all an act). Omarosa write that the show started filming in late 2007. My TV persona was baked in by that point and I was an unscripted pro. I'd learned the secret formula to getting big ratings and making headline-grabbing, water cooler-worthy scenes. On the show every argument, every confrontation, every conflict I created was working to my benefit. I knew the producers were looking for dramatic tension from the cast. They needed it to save the show.
It's All In The Genes
Omarosa says the most disgusting candidate for the show was Gene Simmons of KISS, a close friend of Donald's, and was the most disgusting misogynist she had ever met. One day he walked up to Carol Alt, a model and former Playboy cover girl, talked revoltingly about his famously elongated tongue, and then stuck it into her mouth. She gagged. The producers loved it. Trump love it, too.
During one break in the show, the off-camera outtakes in the boardroom were still very revealing. During one long break, Gene and Donald engaged in language so profane, it would have raised eyebrows in prison.
Donald asked Gene, “What do you think of Ivanka? How's she doing?” What followed was a vile exchange, right in fro of Ivanka, with Gene Simmons talking about her in a room full of people. While leering openly at her breasts, he said, “She's a very, very sexy, desirable young woman who I'm looking forward to getting to know much better if you know what I mean, with all due respect.”
Her father egged him on. Ivanka groaned dismissively and tried to get them to change subjects. Omarosa assumed she'd been dealing with this her whole life and was used to it. Everyone else in the room was shocked, not by Gene's language (we knew he was a disgusting pig), but by Donald's obvious delight in hearing it. He had complete control of the boardroom. He could have shut it down at any point. But he didn't.
Gene was a big star, and a star could say and do what he liked. Trump said so himself to Billy Bush on that infamous bus ride: that whey you're a star you can do what you want, you can grab them by [the pussy]. Gene's decades of rock-star fame, and Trump's decades as America's gold-plated deal-maker, had normalized their sexist treatment to all women.
Including Trump's own daughter.
Omarosa posits that as long as I'd known trump, I'd observed the way he hugs, touches, and kisses Ivanka; the way she calls him Daddy. In my opinion, based on my observations, their relationship goes up to the line of appropriate father/daughter behavior and jumps right over it. I believe he covets his daughter. It's uncomfortable to watch the carry on, especially during that season of Celebrity Apprentice when she was so young. For her part, she knows she's Daddy's little girl, and I believe she exploits his fixation with her to get her way.
DID THE PRESIDENT HAVE A MINOR STROKE IN OFFICE?
Not since the strokes of Woodrow Wilson has the mental state of a President of the United States been in so much question. Omarosa writes of a scheduled meeting she had with President Trump. Omarosa went to the Oval office early for her briefing with the president. She was given extra time with the Trump by Keith Schiller. In the briefings, Trump's attention was scattered. He was distracted, irritable, and short. Normally when DJT got into one of these moods, you knew to give him time and space.
But in this case she could not. Going over his speech, he couldn't retain any of the bullet points. She went over them again and again, and what he should say to the press after the event. But he couldn't remember the key points and stumbled over large words, which were scratched out and replaced with simpler terms.
The change in him since his prime was dramatic. Back on season one of The Apprentice, there had been a mix-up on one of the episodes where a contestant lost money on a task, and they were discussing figures. Donald Trump repeated a lengthy numbers sequence with no notes in front of him, calculated them in his head in moments, and came to his conclusion that the math-addled contestant should be fired. That was how sharp he used to be. Now? The blade had been dulled.
When he practiced the opener to his speech for African American History Month, he spoke only in fragments, not complete sentences. When I tried to correct him, he became frustrated and more irritable.
As Omarosa feared despite her spoon-feeding him short sentences and key points as nauseam, he went off script and ad-libbed his opening speech, spending time vamping about the election; hating on the “opposition party,” a.k.a, the media; giving a shout-out to coal miners in West Virginia; and saying outright ignorant things like, “Frederick Douglass is an example of someone who had done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.”
Fireworks exploded in the White House when news of an upcoming Time magazine with Steve Bannon on the cover broke. The cover line read, “The Great Manipulator.” Donald lost his mind over the cover. He raged at Bannon at high volume in a room full of people, yelling, “He thinks he's a manipulator? Thinks he's so fucking smart? He thinks he can manipulate me? An idiot! An asshole! Many expletives were hurled that day.
His fury was from the cover alone, since he didn't read the article. Omarosa had been on the receiving end of a Trump rage before, where there was a problem shooting The Ultimate Merger at Trump Las Vegas. When his temper flares, he does not—cannot--hold back, and it's terrifying to watch. If he'd spoken that way to a diplomat or head of state, it would have been disastrous.
What happens if re-election is Trump's best hope of avoiding an indictment?
Donald Trump — or, as he’s known to federal prosecutors, Individual-1 — might well be a criminal. That’s no longer just my opinion, or that of Democratic activists. It is the finding of Trump’s own Justice Department.
On Friday, federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York filed a sentencing memorandum for Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, who is definitely a criminal. The prosecutors argued that, in arranging payoffs to two women who said they’d had affairs with Trump, Cohen broke campaign finance laws, and in the process “deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.”
The filing emphasized the way Cohen’s actions subverted democracy. “While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows,” prosecutors wrote. And he didn’t act alone, but “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.” In other words, lawyers from the Justice Department have concluded that Trump may have committed a felony that went to the heart of the process that put him in office.
Trump’s potential criminality in this case, which raises questions about his legitimacy as president, creates a dilemma for Democrats. Assuming prosecutors are right about Trump’s conduct, it certainly seems impeachable; a situation in which a candidate cheats his way into the presidency is one the founders foresaw when they were designing the impeachment process. As George Mason argued at the Constitutional Convention, “Shall the man who has practiced corruption, and by that means procured his appointment in the first instance, be suffered to escape punishment by repeating his guilt?”
But in our current moment, removing the president through impeachment is essentially impossible, given that at least 20 Senate Republicans would have to join Democrats. Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat who will soon lead the House Judiciary Committee, told me he wouldn’t consider impeachment proceedings without at least some Republican support. There is certainly no appetite among congressional Democrats to pursue impeachment over a campaign finance case, particularly while the special counsel investigation into Russian collusion chugs on.
This leaves us in a dangerous situation. Under Justice Department guidelines, sitting presidents can’t be indicted. Ex-presidents, however, can. Experts on both the left and the right believe that if Trump is voted out of office in 2020, before the five-year statute of limitations on campaign finance violations runs out, he could find himself in serious legal jeopardy.
The conservative Andrew McCarthy, a former prosecutor in the Southern District of New York and frequent Trump defender, wrote on Fox News’s website on Sunday, “The president is very likely to be indicted on a charge of violating federal campaign finance laws.” Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat and former prosecutor, told me, “This president has potential prison exposure.”
The 2020 presidential election was always going to be extraordinarily ugly, but one can only imagine what Trump will do if the alternative to the White House is the big house. “It’s dangerous,” said Swalwell, who worries that Trump could become even more erratic, making decisions to save himself that involve “our troops or internal domestic security.”
Ordinarily, you know that a democracy is failing when electoral losers are threatened with prison. But Trump’s lawlessness is so blatant that impunity — say, a pardon, or a politically motivated decision not to prosecute — would also be deeply corrosive, unless it was offered in return for his resignation.
There’s simply no way around it — as long as Individual-1 is on the ticket, the 2020 election is set to be a banana republic-style death match. Trump will almost certainly try to criminalize his opponent — crowds at his rallies have taken to chanting “Lock her up” at the mention of virtually any Democratic woman’s name. And Democrats won’t be able to uphold the general principle that in American elections, losing doesn’t mean personal ruination, because for Trump it will and it should.
There are ways to lower the stakes somewhat. Nadler told me he plans to introduce legislation that would freeze the statute of limitations for crimes committed by presidents, so they could be charged when their terms end. Such a law would at least mean that Trump couldn’t evade justice forever just by winning re-election.
That would mitigate the peril to our democracy, but it wouldn’t come close to eliminating it. Our best hope may lie in the emergence of irrefutable evidence of further presidential crimes, enough to finally test the tolerance of at least some fraction of Republicans.
“The story’s not over yet,” Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and former constitutional law professor, told me. “We’re just at the beginning of it. After two years of hearing people say we were all trigger-happy on impeachment, now I’m hearing we’re all constitutional fraidy-cats. Give us a chance to do the fact investigation and figure out what happened.”
Fair enough. But if the president has committed felonies, we also have to figure out how Republicans might be induced to care.