I was in the White House briefing room on Thursday.
I was stunned.
I have covered every president since Ronald Reagan. I’ve occasionally been lied to or misled by every one of them.
But no president ever sought to destroy our Democracy with their lies until Donald Trump. None ever showed the American people such callous disrespect until Donald Trump walked into the White House briefing room on November 5, 2020.
Trump told the nation that mail-in votes were fraudulent. He had no proof of this.
He said he was leading the race. He wasn’t.
He wanted to stop counting votes in states where he led and continue counting votes in states where he trailed.
He gave a prepared speech filled with lies that disparaged every volunteer and worker at every precinct in the United States and dismissed how our democracy counts votes—without even appearing to know how it is done.
I watched as press secretary Kayleigh McEnany nodded along in agreement with her boss. It was disgraceful.
What comes next? Having watched this man up close for four years, I do not believe that Donald Trump will concede his loss. There might be a phone call to Joe Biden from someone at the Trump campaign. Maybe Mike Pence will deliver some remarks in lieu of a concession speech.
And if I had to guess, I would be surprised if Trump shows up for the inauguration.
His future is bleak. He may or may not be indicted. He’s staring at a debt of close to a billion dollars and that won’t go away.
Trumpism as a movement is not dead. And that will have to be addressed by the Republican party—not to mention the rest of America—going forward. But we should all understand one important thing: Trump’s defeat is a good outcome—an unambiguously good outcome—for America.
Those who expected an easy defeat of Trump underestimated the power of his personality and the problems which drove many to his cause.
It was always going to be a tough fight because the soul of America was at stake and people like Stephen Miller, once they get ahold of power, are always loathe to let it go. And Trump is the same. He called the White House a shit hole when he first moved in, but he has grown to love both the power and its trappings.
The mood in the White House has sunk each day since Fox News called Arizona for Joe Biden. I watched Kellyanne Conway bolt out of the Palm Room doors leading to the East Room, where the Trump faithful gathered late Tuesday night to celebrate Trump’s re-election.
Conway was talking on the phone, trying to deal with the fallout of the Arizona results. Like dictators everywhere, the Trump people could not believe that he’d lost a state full of “his people.”
By Wednesday morning, the numbed looks on staffers’ faces made it apparent that Trump was losing more than Arizona. There were a few souls putting on a brave face, but for most it was slowly sinking in that Trump was staring at the abyss.
He will challenge everything he can in court. He will get Lindsay Graham to bow and scrape and shill for him. He will put Corey Lewandowski on a megaphone outside of every precinct, whore house, outhouse and chicken house in the country. But there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud. And as Trump now stands metaphorically naked before the American people, fewer will follow the lesser imps who remain.
Donald Trump defiled the office of the presidency and his November 5 remarks should go down as the lowest point for any chief executive at any time in American history.
But he will soon be on his way and the soul of America is still intact. The people of the United States showed that. The poll workers in precincts across the country showed us the system is sound and people from all political parties and persuasions can work together.
The American soul is strong. Democracy is messy and working together and treating each other with respect is alive and well. Poll workers dedicated to the American dream proved that this week. We only need to excise the malignancy of Donald Trump to encourage people to work together once again.
It will be done because Donald Trump is done.
As Donald Trump walked away from us last night I asked him why he continued to lie to the American people and why was he so delusional. He flinched, but didn’t answer, and held on to a column as he rounded the corner and disappeared into the bowels of the White House.
It may be the last time I get to ask him a question as president.