So much happened during the Trump administration, so many scandals, and so many self-inflicted wounds, both to Trump and to the nation, that it is easy to forget any particular incident. It was all so exhausting. But in a new book by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, “This Will Not Pass,” we get an inside look at what some governors thought during one of those “easy to forget incidents,” Trump’s infamous group phone call to all 50 governors, in which we were told to get tougher and that they should use the National Guard or he might call out the military.
According to the book, some governors thought Trump was having a panic attack and did not sound well. The Hill has a copy of the book and published portions pertaining to that tumultuous period:
In a call with governors after nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, Trump demanded they crack down to restore order in their states. His rant was so unhinged that Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) called her husband into the room to listen in, the book said.
“You can’t make this shit up,” Brown told her husband.
Across the country, Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) called a security guard into the room to listen in on the same call.
“You gotta sit here and listen to this because I think the president of the United States is having a nervous breakdown or something, and it’s scary,” Mills recalled telling the guard, according to the book.
The book also depicts Trump as some kind of mafia Don. Trump would grant what he believed to be favors and expected favors in return. Regarding the cruise ship outside San Francisco Bay, Trump told Gov. Gavin Newsom he could unload the ship, but Trump wanted “reciprocity,” meaning that Newsom would do something for Trump down the road. Other governors noted that “reciprocity” was a word that Trump brought up all the time, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who recognizes Trump’s purely transactional approach to life; “What can you do for me?”
As another example of Trump’s petulant nature, after the devastating storms hit the East Coast in August of 2020, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) called the White House seeking federal help. Trump called back hours later with a request straight out of first grade:
“There’s something you want to ask me about FEMA?” Trump said, according to Lamont’s recollection. “Well, ask me nicely.”
Ask me nicely? Again we see the president of the United States acting like the King of the United States and where every dollar granted for emergency assistance came from the King’s treasury and was thus a personal favor rather than a job.
If nothing else, the excerpts demonstrate once again that Trump saw himself as the embodiment of the nation. He was the United States, literally like the king, or Putin, MBS, Kim, and the other dictators that Trump admired so much. And always transactional. Nothing is done according to principle. He would do something for “you” (really, your state or city) and expect a “favor” to him – not the United States – in return.
As we continue to learn how close we came to fascism on January 6th, it is important to remember that we got a taste of what it is like when Trump was president. Fascist leaders and dictators personalize the position to the point that they start wars and cause inner turmoil precisely because they see themselves as the state.
Jason Miciak believes a day without learning is a day not lived. He is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is a Canadian-born dual citizen who spent his teen and college years in the Pacific Northwest and has since lived in seven states. He now enjoys life as a single dad of a young girl, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast. He loves crafting his flower pots, cooking, while also studying scientific philosophy, religion, and non-math principles behind quantum mechanics and cosmology. Please feel free to contact for speaking engagements or any concerns.