Trump Isn’t Lying About This

Donald Trump speaks

I believe what Donald Trump says. So should you.

No, I haven’t lost my mind — I’ve never had such clarity of thought about any presidential candidate. After nearly four decades of covering politics for the mainstream, queer and feminist press, I have learned that what Black feminist writer and philosopher Dr. Maya Angelou said is profoundly true: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

I wrote close to 300 stories about Donald Trump during the 2015-2016 election cycle, mostly for the mainstream media. Not enough people believed what Trump said nor the warnings Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton gave about the election. A vivid example was Hillary tweeting in December 2015: “A Republican president could nominate as many as four Supreme Court justices. Why that should terrify you:” along with a link to Clinton’s campaign site with more information. The Trump Supreme Court will be around for about 30 more years — and it only took two to vitiate 49 years of reproductive rights when Trump’s conservative justices overturned the landmark privacy law, Roe v. Wade.

Trump promised to overturn Roe, “but her emails….” Trump is now running part of his re-election campaign on having overturned Roe — which, as he notes, “people said couldn’t be done.” So when Hillary Clinton warned about exactly how it could be done, she was ignored. As were reporters like me sounding warning about what could happen in a Trump administration. It was just as bad as I and others predicted. 

Trump also promised to leave the Paris climate accord, which he did; put migrants in cages, which he did; keep Muslims out of the U.S., which he did. He also ran the most virulently anti-LGBTQ+ administration in U.S. history, which I reported on here at PGN and elsewhere for all four years. 

Trump promised to pack the federal courts with conservatives, which he did, installing conservative judges at a record pace. Now Trump is reaping the benefits of that, by delaying his upcoming trials via judges he appointed

Yet now here we are with Trump’s record of success in making America anything but great again and he is, incredibly, ahead of President Biden in every poll, including polls of swing states like Pennsylvania, which are critical to winning the White House.

So when people say Trump lies about everything, the problem is, that’s not true. He tells Americans all the time what he intends to do and really, given his track record, we should believe him.

Trump sat down for a broad-based interview with TIME magazine at Mar-a-Lago, his home and club in Palm Beach, Florida which he had referred to as the Southern White House when was president. The interviews took place on April 12 in Florida and then in a follow-up conversation by phone on April 27.

The interviews are daunting. Many will open the document and close it back up when they see that it’s an 83-minute read. TIME introduces the piece, writing, “Over the course of the interviews, Trump discussed his agenda for a second term, which includes deporting millions of people, cutting the U.S. civil service, and intervening more directly in Justice Department prosecutions than his predecessors. He also discussed his thinking on other issues, including abortion, crime, trade, Ukraine, Israel, and the prospects for political violence in this election cycle.”

Among the issues much time was spent on issues of women’s bodily autonomy. The interviewer asked, “Do you think states should monitor women’s pregnancies so they can know if they’ve gotten an abortion after the ban?”

Trump replied, “I think they might do that. Again, you’ll have to speak to the individual states. Look, Roe v. Wade was all about bringing it back to the states. And that was a legal, as well as possibly in the hearts of some, in the minds of some, a moral decision. But it was largely a legal decision. Every legal scholar, Democrat, Republican, and others wanted that issue back at the states. You know, Roe v. Wade was always considered very bad law.”

Abortion rulings and LGBTQ+ rulings have long been linked. In his dissent in the sodomy decision, Bowers v. Hardwick in 1986, Justice Harry Blackmun invoked Roe — which he had written — and linked the privacy issues to each other.

It looks minor — maybe Trump will push for states to criminalize women for abortion. But Trump has said before that women should be punished for abortions — he said it months before the 2016 election and, again, no one took it seriously. Now all the protections of Roe are gone and women are having to go to other states for basic healthcare if they miscarry or their baby dies in utero. Biden-Harris have leapt on that issue and made their own statements about it.

But the fundamental issue that overrides everything in these two interviews — and there’s a transcript you can scroll through if you don’t care about tariffs on China and Mexico or you don’t feel you need to know all the details of how Trump would intensify the militarization of police while also saying, “We want to protect police from prosecution” — is cruelty and revenge. This is what will frame the next presidency: Trump getting revenge on his enemies and “being a dictator” like the autocrats he has always admired.

Trump has said the United States would not defend foreign allies from aggression under NATO. He’s said he will gut the federal positions, most notably in the civil rights division and replace staff in many federal positions with political loyalists. Trump has also said he will use law enforcement to target his enemies, from former President Obama to MSNBC and the New York Times. He has drawn a disturbing and dystopian landscape of a MAGA America if he does return to the White House and a civil war if he does not. Although he has said repeatedly and declaratively that he will not accept the results of the election if he doesn’t win and some of his surrogates, like South Carolina GOP senator Tim Scott have said the same

Trump has promised autocracy and fascism writ large. Scholar and historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat says Trump is a “lawless rapist racist money-launderer” and “there are few people who are criminal in so many ways as Donald Trump” and he has “re-made the party in his image” and that “Project 2025 is about re-making our institutions in his image and in a moral collapse.”

Ben-Ghiat, who has written extensively about dictators, writes about fascism, authoritarianism, propaganda and democracy protection. Her latest book, “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present,” examines how illiberal leaders use corruption, violence, propaganda and machismo to stay in power, and how resistance to them has unfolded over a century. People should listen when she talks about Trump in the context of previous and current autocratic figures. As she said last month, “Context only makes Trump’s ‘bloodbath’ comment worse. Authoritarians know that to get people to overcome taboos about committing violence.” 

LGBTQ+ people, women and people of color know where we land when a militaristic authoritarian takes control of a nation. We have seen it in our lifetimes in other countries and we have experienced the creep of fascism since Trump took hold of the Republican party. And that creep is insidious — you see Democrats applauding the militaristic response to the student protests over the war in Gaza and you see the muted response to the laws against LGBTQ people and the evisceration of voting rights and civil rights protections. The GOP Speaker of the House Mike Johnson was a radical theocratic anti-LGBTQ+ attorney for three decades prior to being elected to Congress. So when Trump tells you what he will do to us and others come 2025, when the judges people never thought he’d get positioned keep him from being tried for his sedition and for the actions on Jan. 6 and for trying to overturn the election, listen to Dr. Angelou and believe him.

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