Robert Payne, author of the bestselling biography, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler (1973), described Hitler’s “negotiating” style thusly:
“Although Hitler prized his own talents as a negotiator, a man always capable of striking a good bargain, he was totally lacking in finesse.
“He was incapable of bargaining. He was like a man who goes up to a fruit peddler and threatens to blow his brains out if he does not sell his applies at the lowest possible price.”
What was true for Adolf Hitler is equally true for Donald Trump, the 2016 Republican nominee for President of the United States.
Most recently his vindictive streak was on nationwide display during his second Presidential debate with Hillary Clinton: “If I win I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation–there has never been so many lies and so much deception.”
While this has played well with Trump’s essentially Fascistic followers, even conservatives like political columnist Charles Krauthammer have disagreed with it:
“I’m one of those who thinks there was a miscarriage of justice in not indicting her. But the problem here is the pattern from Trump.
“He has spoken about using the powers of the government to go after other opponents like the publisher of The Washington Post.
“Do we want to invest in him all the powers of the government if he acts where he seems to want to carry out vendettas?”
But making threats against anyone who has dared to cross him or has merely roused his ire is a longtime Trump characteristic.
In 2010, Tarla Makaeff, a former customer of Trump’s real-estate seminar business, filed a fraud lawsuit against now-defunct Trump University.
Trump retaliated by filing a defamation suit against her. The case was dismissed by a judge. But Trump continued to attack her during his Presidential candidacy.
During a campaign rally he assailed her as a “horrible, horrible witness,” and then posted on Twitter that she was “Disgraceful!”
Makaeff ultimately persuaded the judge presiding over the Trump University case to let her remove her name as a plaintiff.
Trump has long employed a series of hardball tactics against anyone who threatens his ego:
- Countersuits, threats and personal insults against outsiders; and
- Stringent confidentiality agreements against employees, business partners, his former spouses and now his campaign staffers.
As an authoritarian who demands the right to craft his own image. Trump furiously denies others the right to dissent from it.
In February, 2016, Trump said that he was “gonna open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”
After the New York Times published pages from his 1995 tax return, Trump tweeted that his lawyers “want to sue the failing @nytimes so badly for irresponsible intent. I said no (for now), but they are watching. Really disgusting.”
Trump claims the tax return was illegally obtained. The Times says it received it from an anonymous source with a return address at Trump Tower.
Trump is a master of “dog whistle” threats. On August 9, he falsely told a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina: “Hillary [Clinton] wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment.
“If she gets to pick her [Supreme Court] judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
The Clinton camp instantly saw it as a “dog-whistle” solicitation for political assassination.
“Don’t treat this as a political misstep,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, who has called for stiffer gun laws, wrote on Twitter. “It’s an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy & crisis.”
“This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament. This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival,” wrote longtime broadcast journalist Dan Rather in a lengthy Facebook post.
“Many have tried to do a side-shuffle and issue statements saying they strongly disagree with his rhetoric but still support the candidate. That is becoming woefully insufficient. The rhetoric is the candidate.”
Trump–and his apologists–claimed he was simply “joking.”
But Trump was not done with making threats against Hillary Clinton–and her husband, Bill.
On October 7, The Washington Post leaked a video of Donald Trump making sexually predatory comments about women (“I don’t even wait. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything”).
The remarks came during a 2005 exchange with Billy Bush, then the host of Access Hollywood.
The admissions ignited a firestorm against Trump, even among many Republicans.
Rather than accept responsibility for his actions, Trump blamed the Clintons–who had nothing to do with the release.
Speaking before a rally in Pennsylvania on October 10, Trump threatened: “If they wanna release more tapes saying inappropriate things, we’ll continue to talk about Bill and Hillary Clinton doing inappropriate things. There are so many of them, folks.”
In making this threat, Trump demonstrated:
- That there may be more evidence of his predatory actions toward women; and
- Like a terrorist, he is willing to harm others in a fit of anger or to demonstrate his capacity for cruelty.
And this is the man millions of Right-wing Americans want to entrust with the nuclear button.