President Donald Trump left plenty of clues that he would try to burn the place down upon exiting the gate.
The clues have spread throughout a lifetime of refusal to acknowledge defeat. They covered a presidency marked by raw and angry rhetoric, inflated conspiracy theories and a sort of camaraderie with “patriots” from the seething ranks of right-wing extremists. The clues accumulated at the speed of light when Trump lost the election and refused to admit it.
The climax of all that happened on Wednesday when Trump supporters, urged by the president to come to Capitol Hill and “fight like hell” against a “stolen” election, stormed and occupied the building in a showdown explosive that left a Capitol police officer and four others dead.
The crowds went there so emboldened by sending Trump to a rally that his supporters went live to ransack the place. Trump, they thought, was supporting them.
It was, after all, the president who responded to a right-wing plot to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan last year with the comment: “Maybe that was a problem. Maybe it wasn’t.
During the arc of his presidency and his life, by his own words and actions, Trump hated losing and didn’t want to acknowledge it when it happened. He turned bankruptcies into success, failures in power into brilliant achievements, the stain of indictment into martyrdom.
Then came the ultimate loss, the elections and the desperate machinations that politicians equated with the practices of the “banana republics” or the “third world”, but which were entirely America at the twilight of the Trump presidency.
Often with a wink and a nod over the last four tears, sometimes more directly – “We love you,” he told the Capitol Hill crowd, gently suggesting long before the clashes that they Going Home Now – Trump has made common cause with fringe elements eager to give him an affirmation in return for his respect.
It made for a combustible mixture when the stakes were highest. The elements had gathered for all to see, often in missives distributed by tweet. (Twitter banned Trump’s account on Friday, denying him his megaphone of choice, “because of the risk of incitement to violence.”)
“I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming,” President-elect Joe Biden said of the Capitol melee. ” But this is not true. We could see it coming. ”
Mary Trump saw it coming from her unique perspective as a clinical psychologist and Trump’s niece.
“It’s just a very old emotion that he’s never been able to deal with since childhood – terrified of the consequences of being in a losing position, terrified of being held responsible for his actions for the first time ever. her life, ”she told PBS a week after the election.
“He’s able to be a loser, which in my family, definitely… was the worst thing you could be,” she said. “So he feels trapped, he feels desperate… more and more enraged.” ”
Post-election problems were predictable because Trump almost said it would happen if he lost.
Months before the vote, he claimed the system was rigged and the postal voting plans were fraudulent, attacking the process so relentlessly he could have hurt his chances by discouraging his supporters from voting by mail. He has explicitly refused to assure the country in advance that he will respect the outcome, which most presidents do not have to do.
There was no evidence before the election that she would be tainted and no evidence after the massive fraud or gross error that he and his team alleged in numerous lawsuits that judges, whether appointed by Republicans, Democrats, or Trump himself, have systematically rejected, often as nonsense. The Supreme Court, with three judges placed by Trump, swept it.
“I hate loss,” he said in a 2011 video. “I can’t stand loss. ”
But the aftermath of the elections ultimately left him no fallback, except his infantry, who could not accept his defeat either.
Trump’s history in promoting bogus and sometimes racist plots rooted in right-wing extremism is a long one.
He praised supporters of QAnon, a complicated pro-Trump conspiracy theory, saying he didn’t know much about the movement “other than I understand they like me a lot” and “he’s winning. popularity”.
QAnon focuses on an alleged high-ranking anonymous government official known as “Q” who shares information about an anti-Trump “deep state”. The FBI has warned that extremists motivated by conspiracy theory, such as QAnon, are domestic terrorist threats.
In 2017, Trump said there was “blame on both sides” for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the site of a standoff between white supremacist groups and those protesting them. He said there were “good people” on both sides.
And during a debate with Biden, Trump wouldn’t criticize the neo-fascist Proud Boys. Instead, Trump said the group should “take a step back and stay away.” The remark drew a firestorm and a day later he tried to push it away.
Trump has not condemned the actions of an Illinois teenager accused of killing two people and injuring a third during summer protests on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kyle Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In October, he chose not to denounce those who had plotted the kidnapping of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat. “When our leaders meet, encourage or fraternize with national terrorists, they legitimize their actions and they are accomplices,” she said. “When they stir up and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit.”
For Mary Trump, the manner of her uncle’s defeat helped set the stage for the toxicity she predicted foresight in November.
Republicans in the Senate and House races outclassed him, expanding their minority in the House and retaining their majority in the Senate until the two Georgia elections this month tipped the scales from the Senate to the Democrats. .
His loss on November 3 was on him, not the party. “So he has no one else to blame,” his niece said. “So I think he’s probably in a position where no one can help him emotionally and psychologically, which is going to make things worse for the rest of us.”
Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, called Wednesday’s attack a “logical conclusion to uncontrolled extremism and hatred” during Trump’s presidency.
“If you’re surprised you weren’t paying attention,” said Amy Spitalnick of Integrity First, a civil rights group engaged in lawsuits for the 2017 violence in Charlottesville.
On Thursday evening, Trump attempted to respond to a unifying message, after months of provocation, saying in a video “this moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
But on Friday he had returned to looking after “his great American patriots” and demanding that they be treated fairly, and he said he would not go to Biden’s inauguration.
He recognized that his presidency was coming to an end, but did not – could not, may never – recognize his defeat.
For all the insulting nicknames he’s tagged about his political enemies – sleepy, sneaky, crying, corrupt, mad, small, brain dead, wacky, pencil, low IQ, watermelon head, dummy, deranged, sick puppy , low energy – none were supposed to sting more than a “loser”. And nothing, it seems, only stung when the loser was him.